We started at the south end of the Ouseburn, not far from the Farm, and scrambled down the embankment. I had hopes of keeping my feet dry for as long as possible, but that was not to be, as I slipped slightly on one of the rocks and *sploosh* went my foot into 6" of water! (I've since then bought myself some better boots and some waterproof trousies, for next time!)
We clambered up into the top half of the culvert, above the river itself. This part is girdered with iron which gives it a wonderfully post-apocalyptic sci-fi feel!
|Someone had a party!|
Further along, the character of the tunnel changed to a concrete lined, high ceilinged passageway. This would have been the area used as a bomb shelter in WWII, as evidenced by the blast baffles at intervals along the tunnel, and the pots in the floor in some parts! These are towards the edges of the tunnel, over the sewers which run either side of the Ouseburn.
|Blast baffle (used with permission from Jo)|
Some of the holes in the floor are less deliberate and more dilapidate:
We had to tread carefully to avoid these gaps in the floor. A sprained ankle here would not have been pleasant.
We found a variety of objects along the way; a burned mattress, a toaster, also charred, and a caster; possibly from the same bed that the mattress came from:
Further along was some interesting graffiti!
|Right over the sewer!|
|Gut party, ja!|
The tunnel ends in a 'room' with a shaft up to the surface, but we did not investigate this, as the rungs in the walls looked somewhat rickety, and the manhole cover at the top is usually locked.
So we retraced our steps to a section where we could gain access to the river itself:
|MIND YOUR STEP|
The edge of the tunnel we were now in was fairly dry, but sloped, and after the first time I slipped and nearly fell in to the water, I decided that my feet couldn't get any wetter, so I'd wade. The footing was easier, as the floor was flat in the middle, which made the going much better.
|The water was knee deep! (Used with permission from Jo)|
|An artistic shot (used with permission from Jo)|
|A storm drain (used with permission from Jo)|
When we reached the end of the Culvert, the tunnel opened up into a broader passage for a few yards, and beyond that was a waterfall. To one side were more of the rungs, set into the side of the tunnel and leading up to a fence. I looked up with some trepidation. No one had told me about this bit, and as you'll remember from my experience at the climbing wall, I'm not very good at this sort of thing. However, I shimmied up the rungs with no trouble, and, trying to keep out of mind the thought of falling into the river from a great height, I made my way along the narrow ledge, clinging to the fence like grim death!
|Clambering out! (used with permission from Jo)|
The final obstacle was a curved spikey bit of fence, designed to stop people from doing exactly what we were doing. To make matters more complicated, the ledge dipped inwards at this point. I was told that it would bear my weight and to just swing around it. I swallowed, took my courage and the fence in both hands, and went for it. It was a huge relief to get back onto terra firma but I felt so elated that I had managed it, and I had a grin on my face for several hours afterwards!