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Report - Catesby tunnel, Northamptonshire, Jul13

The Wombat

Mr Wombat
28DL Full Member
#1
King Mongoose and the Wombat bring you… the holy grail of for tunnel explorers, the collosal 2997 yards long Catesby tunnel in Northamptonshire! Turned out to be a day you just couldn’t make up, so read on.

I’ve wanted to see this for ages. With 5 airshafts, and at nearly 3 Kilometers long, this is the fifth longest derelict railway tunnel in the UK, so needed some time to explore. We weren’t even a quarter of the way down when we heard someone shouting at us (in French!?) from the portal. So we made our way back, fearing the worst. Turns out it was 2 other guys who had come to visit the tunnel and shouted down the tunnel not expecting a reply, and were astonished to see some torches coming towards them! They asked if they could join us, and they turned out to be sound, so all 4 of us trekked back in to the tunnel. The 5 airshafts are worth seeing, and I was surprised after all the dry weather we’ve had, that there was still waterfalls cascading down the insides of the shafts. Water vapour in the tunnel reduced visibility somewhat.

Its amazing the things you find in tunnels; King Mongoose found: A camera flash, a lens cover, and a mobile, with a music selection KM approved of! (he will try and get in touch with the owner of the mobile). Then on the way back, we got stuck down a country lane briefly, as someone had let a whole heard of cows out the field onto the road, and some of them had fallen in the ditch!

I told you it was an interesting day.

I’ll be brief with the history as its been covered before: Built in 1897, and closed in 1966 was on the great central railway from London to Sheffield. The line was the single biggest closure of the Beeching axe, and the most controversial. It was built not because of gradient, but because the rich owner of the Catesby estate didn’t want a railway blighting his landscape.
27 feet wide x 25 feet high, Ventilation is provided by five shafts. Four of these are 10 feet in diameter but the northernmost - 1,250 yards from the entrance - is 15 feet wide to provide greater air flow. Plans to use it as part of HS2 have now been shelved.


Explore with King Mongoose. Oh,… and 2 blokes we found at the portal.



01
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02 Flooded north portal
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03
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04. South portal
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05
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06
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07
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08 this gives you some scale of the place
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09. deep catchpits
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10 airshaft
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11
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12. one of 3 large engineer's refuges
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13
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14
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15. another airshaft
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16
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17
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18. and finally, the largest airshaft
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19. this is it from the surface
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20
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21. half way was a very long way
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22
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23
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24. the south portal
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25
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Thanks for looking! :)
 
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