Report - - Ashperton Canal Tunnel, Herefordshire - September 2016 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Ashperton Canal Tunnel, Herefordshire - September 2016

Bertie Bollockbrains

There is no pain
Regular User
I've done a few derelict canal tunnels this year either by boat or swim, so making the most of the end of the summer season and the few remaining warm days, I couldn't resist popping into this 400 yard tunnel when driving past from somewhere up north with the wife. I approached this tunnel hoping that it would be a pleasant romantic boat cruise with the wife:


Unfortunately it was discovered that the tunnel is flooded to within a few inches of the ceiling. All thoughts of using a boat was out. It had to be a very unpleasant swim:


The wife was not happy with me at all and is still yet to speak to me.


Ashperton Canal Tunnel lies on the partially restored Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal. That canal also had the much longer Oxenhall Tunnel (2192 yards). If you must follow, please go that tunnel which can be done by canoe or inflatable and not this one. A third canal tunnel of 440 yards lies at Aylestone in Hereford city itself and was recced by myself and Oort about 6 months ago - it's bricked up at the only accessible portal.

Anyways here's the history plagiarized from an Oxenhall report posted by some tit called Bertie: The Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal is a canal in the west of England which ran for 34 miles from Hereford to Gloucester, where it linked to the River Severn. It was opened in two phases in 1798 and 1845, and closed in 1881 when the southern section was used for the course of the Ledbury and Gloucester Railway. It is the subject of an active restoration scheme.

The first plans to construct the canal were made in 1777, but nothing much happened until 1790 when the route was resurveyed. It was decided that a branch would be built to Newent where there were minor coalfields. Some of the promoters began to think that improving the River Wye might be a better option, but the announcement of new seams of coal at Newent resulted in a decision to obtain an Act of Parliament, which was granted in April 1791.

In 1792 the route was re-surveyed again, and recommended a diversion to Newent. This route required a 2192 yard tunnel at Oxenhall, and another act of parliament was obtained in 1793 to sanction the new route. By late 1795, the initial section was open to Newent, but the tunnel was causing major financial problems.

In order to build the tunnel, twenty shafts were sunk along its route, so that there could be multiple working faces. However there were considerable difficulties caused by the volume of water entering the shafts. Horse-powered pumps proved inadequate, and eventually steam-powered pumps were employed, but this added to the cost, and the tunnel was a large factor in the failure to complete the canal.

The canal was opened to within one mile of Ledbury in 1798, but stopped there as the cost had far exceeded the estimates. The Coal Branch to the mines at Newent was never a success as the coal was of very poor quality and the branch fell into disuse very quickly.

The second stage of the construction of the canal was completed in 1845 but the canal had cost far more to build than was originally planned. The whole canal had been estimated at £69,997 in 1790, but the section to Ledbury had cost in excess of £104,000 and the second phase had cost £141,436.

Traffic on the canal increased to the extent that a timetable for the transit of the Oxenhall tunnel had to be introduced in 1849. This was not always successful, as the Hereford Times carried articles in May 1851 about an incident in which boats travelling in opposite directions had met in the middle, and neither would give way. There was deadlock for a period of 58 hours.

On 17 January 1862, less than 17 years after the opening to Hereford the canal was leased to the Great Western and West Midland Railway, with a view to converting it to a railway. This did not take place immediately, but on 30 June 1881, half of the canal was closed, and sections of it were used for the course of the Ledbury and Gloucester Railway. The Hereford to Ledbury section remained open, but gradually became disused. The Canal Company continued to receive rent from the Great Western Railway, which it distributed to its shareholders as dividends, and was not formally wound up until the railways were nationalised in 1948.


Spoil heaps can be seen making the route of the tunnel

As I approached the canal, it soon became clear that this canal is very derelict and boat entry would be impossible

And very overgrown. The tunnel portal is in there somewhere.

I really should had turned around at this point.

First view in. The water is too deep to stand up in, and the gap between the water and the ceiling never much more than about 1 foot. Why I carried on I don't know.

Photo fails from this point on. Difficult to make photos when in water too deep to stand in, no tripod and desperately trying to keep the camera dry.



At about this point, there was a big shaft which was about 2-3m in diameter and capped at the top. It was impressive and similar in size to the sort of shaft you would expect in a railway tunnel but taking photos at this point was impossible as there was no foothold on the walls to stand or rest on. Anyways I carried on. Approaching the far end, the water became really mucky. I'm amazed I haven't come down with Weil's disease since.

And finally I made it to the far portal.

Then it was back to the car and driving home with the wife complaining of me smelling like a sewer.

We will call this explore a brief moment of madness on my part and please don't follow me



Fear is the little death
Regular User
I knew you were doing this and helped with basic recce, but actually seeing it... Fuck me, Im not sure if I should :Not Worthy or :confused::confused::confused:

Either way, awesome effort dude and great pics considering the conditions!


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
awesome-you either have guts or truly are nuts. me and the boy have recced the hereford city tunnel which is also flooded but yet to do it so admire your 'go for it' enthusiasm!!


I Go Where The Drains Are
Regular User
Least it wasnt sewage... Good effort, defies my 'why explore it when its 70% underwater rule' so fair fuckin play!


Definitely not a Cylon
28DL Full Member
Holy crap, that's almost certainly the worst cost/benefit ratio of anything I've ever seen on here! Respect for your completionist balls of steel though.