A quickly organised explore meant that plans for Saturday were made quick and we were off to this location to meet up with another 6 guys who are all Facebook and Flickr contacts and explorers.
The explore we were on was to a well known industrial testing facility for jet engines and concorde amongst other aviation engines and is now well-guarded as it is also being demolished fairly shortly. I was last there in November 2011 so I knew what to expect but how access stood and getting to the “tourist” or more common part of the sites I missed last time was where we needed help today.
The drive was uneventful and with a quick toilet stop meant we were there in just over 2 hours. After a quick drive around, we decided to park on the next street near to the meet point and wait for the 30 minutes before everyone was to arrive.
Several Facebook messages and texts resulted in everyone parking in the same street and 6am was getting to be a flurry of activity. One car, then two, then three, four, five, then six. Four guys walked past us while we were all exchanging handshakes and good mornings. It seems that we wouldn’t be the only ones exploring this morning, we were aware that this site was being demolished but also explorers in their droves would be here today and the coming weeks. Tell-tale signs of lads (and girls) walking around with camera backpacks and tripods kind of gives the game away!!
Once everyone was accounted for, we made a start by walking through the woods with torches ready as the morning was still dark. After a slight diversion, we found our access point and it was time to pass the kit through and scrabble through to the other side.
Thankfully we had a great guide and after some quiet moving through, we accessed the main part of the site and got off the roads. We then proceeded to climb up several ladders and through the network of pipes whilst watching for any security activity before making it to our sunrise location, the Airhouse.
After a serious climb up and across the gantry, 6 of us, all with tripods lined up set up and captured the scene above. We made it through to first light and spent some time up here before climbing back down to ground level.
One of the machines on ground level.
After a mooch around here and more photos, the eight of us went through the interconnecting walkways and back outside to negotiate through to testing Cell 3. When we got there, we found the other 4 guys we saw earlier down in the cell so decided to go to Cell 4 and spend some time there.
On the way, we bumped into a guy who was there on his own and going to Cell 3. We met him later and joined him for an hour.
The 3 images below were taken in Cell 4 which is an impressive piece of engineering. Some climbing was involved for the crane and the first image but there was lots of room for everyone to wander round without getting in each others shots.
“Pipework Cell 4”
After this, we took in turns to pose in the “chamber to the abyss” and act as the others shutter presser. This was an impressive area and was very happy with the final image.
After we all had finished and some food and drink was consumed, we moved back towards Cell 3 and down to the infamous doors. These were used in the film Sahara and are basically untouched to this day. Access was a rickety old ladder but was better than the old method of access last time I was here.
A video showing the Cells in Sahara is here:
I personally didn’t take any photos here this time and just helped out. The doors and the facility is in a chamber with very minimal light and I managed to get some I was happy with last time I came here. Plus its a little diffiicult with 9 in the one small area. Cell 3 is on my Flickr set somewhere if anyone is interested in viewing them.
After everyone was finished, we headed back through the labyrinth of pipes to aim for the computer rooms and the control panels. As we rounded the corner, security spotted us and we made a dash for the nearest place to hide. Most people accessed the building close by but as we had to be back home for around 2pm, we decided to make a run for the fence where we came in and leave.
After saying goodbye to everyone, we made a dash back the way we came but saw the jeep going on its rounds and had stopped on the road so decided to cut through another way. After finding a gap in the internal fence, we walked the perimeter fence back to the access point.
At this time, we spotted border security patrolling the fence. A quick dash into the ferns, hearts beating we watched the security guard walk past. He didn’t spot us as he was too busy talking on his walkie talkie even when two deer ran past us at speed!
After this, we found the way out and bumped into one of the guys who got busted from the 4 who we met earlier. He was escorted out and details taken. We all walked back to the car, said our goodbyes and on the drive home, we heard that our guys got busted half an hour later going to the power station by security on their rounds.
More photos will be added to Flickr in due course but this place is a great site for exploring and will be a sad day when it is demolished.
Thanks for reading.