Exploring with Bob
Personally I think Culvert Street could make a fantastic modern rival to Sesame Street.
I hadn’t managed to get out exploring for a couple of weeks and wanted to do something with a bit of northern charm. I knew @elhomer12 was up this neck of the woods and since he’d done the notable Medlock culverts downstream, we hooked up to do the notable culverts upstream. Cracking to meet up with another drainer again, having originally met on Punk’s Megatron excursion.
I'll mix history, facts and shenanigans for this explore, if you don't mind .
The Majestic Culverts are a series of three culverts that set the Medlock River off on its way to becoming the well explored and documented stretch of water that flows from Strinesdale above Oldham to meet the River Irwell in Manchester.
The culverts are named after the mill that presides over the third culvert, the fact it was originally explored on coronation day, and because your crown jewels get a good dipping. Twice as it happens on this trip, in what I'm told would be known as a double dipper.
The mill looking up from the approach to the outflow of the final culvert.
In choosing my weapons, I selected wellies, as I wanted to recreate the experience of the original explorers Ojay and TLR.
The original water works is now occupied by the RSPCA. Elhomer and I checked the inflow and decided to make our way downstream to the outflow. There we were met by an outflow that would make the world limbo champion baulk at the thought of wriggling under. It was undeniably a stoopy start. A quick flash of the torch suggested it wasn’t going to be terribly far, but now would not be a good time to crack open the safety brews. We waddled awkwardly inward. My crown jewels got their first dipping of the proceedings. From here we explored upwards checking out the series of tributaries that connected to the main flow, before meeting the first inflow, a series of small waterfalls taking the excess from the reservoirs above us.
Making our way back down, the culvert is lined with stone blocks. There are a couple of pipes running from somewhere into the main flow. But fuck knows where from. All over would be my best guess.
There is a very nice feature that follows; a pipe that creates a gushing waterfall from the ceiling of the culvert. Sadly my snaps did not come out because of water spray, so hopefully elhomer has a nice capture.
The stone lined culvert carries on until it reaches the newer (and considerably lower) brick extension.
It get's progressively smaller and smaller, like the room in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But you are greeted with a beautiful outflow. Albeit it small. Size never matters.
And that was the end of culvert one. On to culvert two, which now runs under the school. I decided to walk along the river. Elhomer took the sensible option; walking along the embankment. I was stung, bitten and scratched walking down the river. But I kinda felt like I was in a jungle, so it's all good.
We went in the inflow this time, assuming the outflow would remain unblocked. This involved a climb down a surprisingly grippy (not slippy) but short waterfall, and into my first standing wellie breach (my limbo under the stoop of the first culvert had resulted in much water breach already). The water was warm though, so it was just like having a paddle.
A snap looking back up the inflow.
As others have said, the stone lined culvert has been subject to a sprinkling of spraycrete and this starts from, more or less, as soon as you enter the second culvert. It's fair enough I guess because it now supports an academy on top. Happily, some of the spraycrete is starting to form into prettier features. There seemed to be this perma-mist as well, which was fucking annoying.
It was again like Roald Dahl was penning our adventures, as the culvert shrunk and we started to stoop, the spraycrete masking the beauty of the stone. On we went, unable to drink our safety brews (of epic proportion).
We knew we'd hit the road that ran in front of the school when we discovered the first man hole. And this was a welcome respite from the second bout of stooping. Bit of a fucker to snap, but snapped all the same!
And then another nice couple of features a few meters up - a pipe waterfall and an older manhole.
So the story goes, you need a selfie to demonstrate scale. So here I am demonstrating scale without being narcissistic. This is one of my favorite features to be fair, where the stone lined arched culvert meets this awesome stonelined tube.
The outflow of the second culvert was in sight, with two balls from the school caught in some branches. Time for a quick snap before heading off into deep silt and water for another dip of the crown jewels.
Out of the second culvert we made our way to the final section, running under the mill. We weighed up the best plan of attack and while we were doing that a remarkably grey looking man collared us from the pub next to the inflow. He was so grey looking in fact his skin matched the plumes of smoke exhaling from his lungs. Death probably looks a lot healthier. "You're not going under that bridge are you", he sneered. Cheeky fucker. A short exchange followed where he mocked, "...and that's your hobby, is it?" Cheeky fucker. But he stopped sneering at the mention of cave spiders. He winced in fact. And he wasn't bothered we were going in, more perplexed because of, "the smell", and, "rats". But he gave a wry smile and a nod when I said, "It keeps out of trouble, well kinda". And off he scuttled back in the pub.
We made our way downstream and in the outflow, exploring the very interesting set of culverted sections that run under the mill. The first section is a bridge that has been modified to act as a culvert. This then morphs into rectangular stone lined sections supported by rusting beams. As you walk towards the outflow on the right is a sewer (notably so because of the toilet paper snagged at it's mouth). I'm quite surprised to find stuff like that connected to rivers. Really never would have thought it before exploring and reading the reports on here.
This carries on, with most of the water running through a central channel. A look back up towards the inflow.
This section runs into one of the prettiest parts of the whole series (in my opinion); a brick and stone lined arched culvert.
Elholmer working his magic.
As we find our way towards the final outflow, the culvert changes shape and form again. Rusted beams support the concrete slabs above us, and a mix of concrete and stone hold them up.
And the final outflow of the day. Some silt (but not crown jewel dipping deep), a bit of a stoop, but not that bad. And that was that. A few hours spent exploring the best culverted sections at the top of the Medlock.
We hadn't had chance really to crack open the safety brews until we got to the embankment. So we cracked them open at last and drank them on the way up to the inflow. A cracking evening explore in good company.
This report was brought to you by the letter M and the number 3.
Thanks for reading.