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Report - Boats, Barriers and Big Fat Drains

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Do. Find. Drains.
28DL Full Member
Whooops, I left Yaz to post his report first then completely forgot to post mine at all. Oh well, here we go! :D

"This is how roadtrips should be" - These are the exact words spoken by Yaz after I explained my extreme hangover and resulting lateness in apologetic tones. I would have laughed had I not been desperately trying to hold down a torrent of pure evil. The sight of zero's post-arc photos weren't exactly helping matters, nor was the mammoth task of fitting ridiculous quantities of junk into my small car. Thankfully the ever trustworthy tactic of repeated swallowing prevailed and I was soon on the road, destination Sheffield.



Day 1 - Sheffield - Megatron

Arriving at a rather disgraceful 6pm I met up with Yaz and we headed over to Macca's for some wader lubricating grease, 26 nuggets and a large fries being the order of the day. With the standard of food quality set for the rest of the trip, we made our way beneath the rails and roads of Sheffield, down into the heart of the very watercourse that gave this city it's name: The River Sheaf.

Megatron really needs no introduction, housing one of the largest sections of drain in the country it's a place that will make any drainer weak at the knees...that is, if the walk through the debris hasn't already. Let it never be forgotten that it was actually the failure of this giant tunnel to cope with flood waters that caused Sheffield station to close last summer. Rain much?


Every brick

Day 2 - Derby - Captain Birdseye's Flo Selecta

For those people who might be unaware of the recent news floating around the east midlands like a london turd, Severn Trent Water appear to be less than impressed with the draining antics that are going on around the country. Having pondered this situation for a while I've come to the conclusion that this unwelcome hate is most likely caused by their distinct lack of exciting drainage infrastructure when compared to other water companies such as Thames Water, Yorkshire Water and United Utilities. In a desperate bid to rid them of this extreme jealousy, me and Yaz set about cracking open something new and exciting in Derby, and boy were we impressed!

Originally constructed in 1938, with a length of approximately 2.1km, the Markeaton Storm Relief Culvert was always going to impress. Despite tales of heavy modernisation in 2006, the sight of two of the largest infall structures in the country and whispers of an original 12ft brick horseshoe construction left us certain that this had to be explored no matter what. With the words of Severn Trent employee Ben Usher casually thrown aside by most explorers, I decided to take the upper hand and act on his advice that we were ill equipped, making sure to pack the car with every piece of kit I owned that could possibly assist with access. 24 hours later as we calmly floated into the drain on HMS Culverteer's maiden voyage I couldn't help but crack out a big dirty smile. Cheers for the tip Ben!


HMS Culverteer

Now as much as I would like to complain about how the bottom half of the horseshoe tunnel has been ruined with a layer of somewhat less exciting concrete, it really isn't my place to do so. Especially when you come across the awesome wishbone style junction. Ill.


Flo Selecta

The rest of the drain is mostly straight for it's entire length, but a few 8 storey manhole shafts scattered around break up the walk and provide sufficient awe at the depth of the drain. Around 100ft for you number fans!


Latest craze

Each shaft is not only decorated with a vertical ladder setup, but also contains a curious large set of concrete stairs that zig-zag their way up. Strangely, each staircase ends abruptly at the walls of the shaft and therefore provides no means of passage whatsoever. It seems their only purpose is to transport a trickle of run-off from the road above. This is madness!


[Photo by Yaz]

Oh, and did I mention the two infalls? Well...that's just something else entirely...


Day 3 - Milton Keynes - Gash

Every person I talk to seems to have heard some sort of a rumour about storm drains under Milton Keynes. Normally I would take such stories with a pinch of salt, but given it's status as a "new town" of the 1960's it has to be said that the odds really stack up in favour of big drains. With one source being somebody who actually worked on the drainage system the possibility of information straight from the horse's mouth exists, but call me old fashioned, it just feels like cheating. So me and Yaz did the right thing (tm), picked out a selection of the most promising outfalls from the hundreds visible on Google Earth and set about finding new tunnels. It's been a long time since I spent some quality time driving from place to place checking out endless lists of dud outfalls, but this was straight back to the good old days. Hours passed, darkness fell and we left empty handed. We just have to remember that we didn't fail, only tightened the net. MK is in dire need of a dedicated drainer!

Day 3 - Brighton - Colossus of the South

With our original plans for a weekend of London exploration overruled by the possibility of a fairly impromptu group explore of COTS, we headed down to B-Town for a bustup of the second largest tunnel-bored drain in the country. 6 minus 1 strong we dropped into the lower section, a suitably face-melting coddle of 6m diameter tunnel and giant plugholes. Shits and giggles were had and bird noises represented. Sadly Loops couldn't make the trip, turning up a mere 2hrs30 late as we were leaving. Maybe next time!


Smile for the camera


Turd tube





Day 4 - London - This is it

Day 4 turned out to be a rather slow day. A fantastic fry-up provided by our legendary host Loops filled the gap and I spent the entire afternoon drooling over maps and pictures of London's main drainage system. Feeling revived we headed over to Siologen and Zero's awesome new find, the Charlton Storm Relief Sewer aka "This is it". The distinct lack of high vis wasn't perfect, but somehow using barriers as our only credibility prop kept the passing cars happy and in we dropped into yet another sick horseshoe tunnel leading to the famous overflow chamber on the southern low level sewer.


Sewer slide

With the rising Thames tide threatening to block us in from the downstream end, and the rain above ground threatening to cause the sewer on the upstream end to overflow, the situation was really somewhat less than ideal. Worried that we were on the way to destruction we made our time and took off every ladder, returning to colder climates above ground.


...Ya rly

Day 5 - Weak

Pretty tired by this point me and Yaz slept like we'd never slept before. With vague plans to get up early and bust up the Beck Valley Culvert in Nottingham on our way back north, Loops "Didn't have the heart" to wake us up. If I'm going to be honest...thank god. Sleeping in cars and warehouses had taken it's toll on the mind and body so we made our way straight back home sans drainage.

Big thanks to people that provided much welcome accommodation and laughs on the way! Now, what happened to my cold fucking nuggets.