Every explorer has them, those that say they don’t are probably lying. Furthermore, many of the exploring blogs that inhabit the web appear to be epic success after epic success. Failure doesn’t generate interest, no one wants to hear about hours of trudging about in the undergrowth and fruitless leads, or standing looking forlornly at a building that is just out of reach. So why are we writing this? Well, we have had our fair share of failures over the years, it is part of the process. We have turned up to sites more times than we like to admit only to be thwarted by fresh new hoarding, security making a sudden appearance or land pirates stripping anything that is or isn’t nailed down. Our favourite is well timed a passer-by who walks by at the very moment you wish they hadn’t, shattering the confidence of the moment.
So here it is, a brief catalogue of our most memorable failures whilst exploring.
Pyestock, our very first. Having visited Pyestock on a number of occasions, we were the cock of the walk and decided to take some of our university friends along with us. Having barely even made it into the first building before we encountered another soul walking about snapping away from the gantries around a test cell. We thought we had lost him when he walked off and out of view from where we stood in Test Cell 3. Only to have him suddenly bear down upon us in a high vis, talking into his radio saying “Got ’em”. Game Over. Startled. Unsure how this had happened. Looking back it was a rookie move, one of the forums (28Dayslater) had organised a mass invasion for the same weekend. Being seen by the site owners, they were compelled to act. We had walked into it with out realising. A quick murmur from one of our friends asking if 28 Days Later was a film left them wondering what was what and let us on our way.
Roll on a few years later to one of Europes largest brickworks, Stewartby Brickworks. As it was derelict, we decided to pay it a visit. A vast piece of industry in Bedfordshire that was responsible for building half of London with its London Stock yellow bricks, now lay derelict, arms thrown open to intrepid explorers. With the introduction of emissions regulations by the EU and the subsequent closure, we decided to head up and have a look with a fellow explorer, KingRat. We were prepared, we had information that said to cut through the bushes.In our wisdom, we entirely ignored this and instead we sprinted to an old workshop in the middle of open ground. We should have followed the advice given. One jumpy security guard later and we had the old bill roll past, stop and asking to look in our bags.
London. There have been many a successful explorers in London, a small group cracked the city like a nut and feasted on the inside a few years ago. We will freely admit that we don’t have to cart our balls around in a wheel barrow, they aren’t big enough to see us climb down into the guts of the underground. However, we have had a few good explores in London. We have also had many failures. A few years ago, one half of TheTimeChamber found themselves dropping down the inside of the wall of Lots Road Power Station only to land next to a security van with a sleeping guard in it. Cause and effect. We scrambled back over the wall and a quietly sauntered off into the distance as if nothing had happened. Comparatively, there is always a slight sense of fun when you drop over a wall, startle a few passersby and disappear into the Underground.
Longcross Barracks. This is probably our finest moment. We were wet behind the ears and after Pyestock we thought we knew what we were doing and that life was easy. After arriving, we set off around the perimeter fence looking for a way through the razor wire tangle. We walked and walked. Even walking a little too close to a motorway looking for a way in. Becoming dark we called it a night, petrol burnt and legs scratched for nothing. It was only when a friend showed us around did he make it look so simple, we had come within feet of entry.
We don’t want to admit how many miles we have wasted following a lead. It is all part of the fun. There are many more stories, we have hidden in cupboards, beneath floors and around corners because an unexpected noise has reached down into a primitive part of the hind brain and made us have a rethink. Embarrassingly, some of these noises have been dripping rain water from a roof collapse and onto a metal surface.