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Report - Roundabout Tour

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by snappel, Jan 5, 2008.

  1. snappel

    snappel BMW 4 LIFE
    28DL Full Member

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    Posted in RU because it contains one or two RU locations, plus talk about security, etc. Full reports of the more significants sites will be posted in due course.

    Part 1: Festive Season Survival Tactics

    The big 4x4 skidded to a halt, half in the bus lane, half in front of my bonnet. Clearly the driver, who looked just like Marsellus Wallace (but certainly not ‘like a bitch’) wasn’t happy about my emergency lane change. “What’s he doing?†“Sticking his finger up. And shoutingâ€Â. And there was me thinking Brixton wasn’t such a bad place anymore. It was going to be a long night.

    An hour later and I was standing on the roof of the Middlesex Hospital in Soho. Like my friend in the 4x4, I wasn’t particularly impressed. Aside from good views of London, a rather unique mortuary and a good staircase, the hospital had little else to offer. (Imagine my disappointment, getting near a PC and realising I'd missed the chapel...)

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    Later we arrived at the Royal Victoria Dock in Silvertown. It was cold, and our preserved dockside crane of choice was nicely coated in ice. Open vertical ladders, the lower-two of which had been removed, plus some barbed wire and mesh. Not very friendly.

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    To escape the tedious marketing scam that is known to us, in the West, as Christmas, I decided to put my new Garmin GPS to test and find a couple of ROC posts. Exercise completed, I'd been to Cuckfield and Steyning, before finding a tower crane in Brighton that caught my eye...

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    With Christmas done and dusted, which included the usual bouts of drinking, food-eating and general slobbery, I was off on a real adventure. A week in the South of Wales to celebrate New Year. This was when things started getting really 'roundabout'...

    Part 2: Kent Invasion

    My tour’s ‘feature presentation’ three-day expedition began in rural Kent. First stop, the historic Bellerby’s College (now closed). Suddenly there’s a bang, and footsteps. Running into a large drawing room, I was expecting to find thick velvet curtains to hide behind. Instead myself and Zero were presented with the most pathetic wafer-thin efforts ever to be made. This just wasn’t going to work. Surely enough the guard came in and saw the two silhouettes by the patio doors. Busted.

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    Next up, Benenden Hospital and a couple of reservoir outfalls. Excellent fun, especially Ardingly that required a makeshift loop ladder. I left the rest of the SRT kit in the boot. Hardcore!!

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    Finally it was an overpriced curry, more Relentless, more Red Bull and back on the road. On my own now, the M4 was calling.

    Part 3: Headstocks for Breakfast

    Shivering violently, I drifted in and out of sleep, hitting the snooze button on my phone. I was freezing to death, but kept trying to sleep. Eventually I decided it was light enough and walked up to the colliery. Here at Penallta, access was easy. Climbing the upcase headstock was not. Check where the steps start...

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    Five minutes later and I was even colder. Builders were stirring in the caravan villages, and it was getting light. My lens was covered in rain, and I was worried about how I'd grip the leg of the headstock on the way down. Managing to get it done, I escaped, now thoroughly wet-through and filthy back to my thoroughly filthy and full-of-rubbish car. Next stop...

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    My climb of the Great Western Colliery headgear was interrupted by snowfall. I'd seen it all now. Walking back to the car in my boots, mucky jeans, jacket and hat eating corned-beef sandwiches out of tinned foil, I was glad I didn't have to do this every day.

    A meeting with sinnerman was on the cards next, but not after I spotted and shut-down a fetching red and white Stothert & Pitt dockside crane in Cardiff...

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    The 'meat' of the day was found at Cwm Coke. Entry was easy, but suddenly an Alsation came to get us. Barking loudly around our legs, we had no real option but to wait for the two security guards. Waiting for the inevitable, we were amazed when they said we were welcome to stay. Ok then.

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    Having been skeptical, I was gobsmacked. Cwm Coke is an absolute gem. With security clearance granted, we targetted the offices, rummaging through drawer after drawer of documents. Treats included some 1950s/60s era Cwm Colliery documentation, and file-loads of 1970s Bryan Donkin brochures.

    Sinnerman had to leave, so as daylight faded, I went on to Clydach ROC post to find it largely empty. Reaching my home for the night nearby, I managed two Budvar's and a Jalfreizi before falling asleep...

    Wales day two, and Sinnerman was up for more fun. This time both headstocks at the Cefn Coed Colliery site. Pretty rusty though - unfortunately painting them is too expensive.

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    By now my trip had taken a firm 'coal feel'. Something different though now - a little treasure in Ammanford, the Betws Anthracite Washery.

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    Before saying goodbye to sinnerman, there was time for two more visits. First the ROC post at Kidwelly, which was pretty empty but in good condition. Be warned though - the mother of all mean looking spiders hangs from the inside of the hatch on the thinnest, weakest looking web you'll ever see. I spared zippy the trauma and neglected to photograph it.

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    Next, the Morlais Colliery headgear, moved to the industrial museum in Kidwelly having been donated by the coal board. Tricky to start as there was little or no grip on the leg, but well worth it. Sinnerman slipped and took the most significant injury of the day, injuring his ankle.

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    Onwards then, I stopped at Dryslywn ROC post to find it virtually empty before continuing on to where I would be staying for the next week.

    Part 4: The Dragon Sessions

    Firmly in South Wales, the bulk of my exploring was done. I'd managed to tick off most of the places I'd planned to visit, but had time for a couple more excursions. First of which was an unexpected find - a Royal Navy armaments depot near Milford Haven, very similar to Trecwm. Lots of storage tunnels, narrow gauge railways and blast walls, a big wooden pier and some factory buildings.

    Signs could be made out saying things such as 'Buoyant Mine Stores' and 'Machine Shop', but the buildings had been thoroughly trashed. Two of the tunnels at least are accessible. With no tripod and not much of a torch, I didn't venture far. I later found out from an old chap in the town that he walked down a few of them once and they only go a few hundred yards. Mines were shunted in and stored, presumably in WW2, before being loaded onto ships from the pier.

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    My hosts for the week know how to party. Thankfully I found time for an excursion down to Tenby to see the mortuary. This was scary though - I hated it. I found it by chance after messing up the map, but people were walking past it and there was a van blocking the lane right in front of it.

    Waiting for a quiet moment, I sneaked down and in, the door making a hellish screech as it ran over the remains of the long-smashed window on the floor inside. Once in, everything echoed, especially my noisy Nikon shutter. I kept expecting the law to turn up. I got out unseen, and made a swift getaway.

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    On the way home I decided to swing by another ROC post, my 'count' now in double figures. Llanboidy was the post of choice, high up on a muddy hill. The post was in a pretty damp state, but had some good maps left in it.

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    Hopes of an early start on my last day were destroyed my a final night of drinking, games and inappropriate jokes. Consequently I binned plans to visit the Mid Wales Hospital and met sinnerman for a return to Penallta. Winding house and downcast headstock 'conquered', and it was back to the cars, the bath house being inaccessible.

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    We had one last stop at the derelict ruins of Crumlin's colliery before sinnerman had to leave. I stopped by the Big Pit museum briefly on the way home, but then decided I couldn't put off suffering the weekend motorway drivers anymore and headed southwards again.

    Thanks...

    ..to Zero for joining me for the southern antics. Also to sinnerman for ensuring I had an informative tour of the remaining Welsh Coal sites - much appreciated. Thanks also to those who provided help, late night phone call answers, etc - dad(!), CM, IC, OT, Robsey and DF - there may be others. Also thanks to those who put me up in Wales.

    Tomorrow I return to the colder, wetter north, and I'll have done over 1600 miles and 24 explores this Christmas. Fuck buying presents and all that crap.
     

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