Jump to content
Luke

Belgium What I Did On My Holidays AKA Belgium Greatest Hits Tour - June 2013

Recommended Posts

So after what has seemed like years of waiting and watching every explorer and their uncle get to taste the derelict delights Europe has to offer finally it was the turn of our motley group (bar Mookster the jammy sod as it feels like he's been over here more times than I've had hot dinners) to head on over the pond.

After barreling down the A12 from Essex and snatching up Jess, Mookster and I from the arsehole end of London, known to the locals as Orpington and to everyone else as 'don't go there, especially after dark' our heroic party consisting of the already mentioned loonies as well as Ant_43 (aka Gorilla Face) and our noble driver Bones Out (aka Bones Out) arrived at our destination and the beginning of what was to be our grand European Urbex Adventure. In Dover.

Arriving perhaps a little earlier than planned (our train wasn't leaving until 11pm) a few quick local explorers were hastily arranged beginning with perhaps truly the greatest explore ever known to mankind, the veritable mansion known as Bushy Ruff House.

This glorious site, built in 1797, is still in tip-top mint condition and comes with all it's original features such as walls and holes for windows, even some floor if you are lucky, and will leave any explorer worth his salt speechless, even ones jaded by the past glories of sites such as Pyestock will see they but pale in comparison to this mighty edifice. Worth the journey down alone. Highly recommended.

BushyRuff-6853_zps3028be40.jpg

"OK guys, everyone point to the best explore you have EVER done!"

So dazzled were we by Bushy Ruff's radiance we at first completely walked past it trying to find the bloody thing, ending up on a sheer path overlooking some tennis courts and finally in someones back garden before one member of our party helpfully pointed out that perhaps the crumbling burnt out pile we initially dismissed in the first instance was the site we were looking for all along. So back we go, acquiring along the way some strange looks from the locals playing in said courts. Like they've never seen 5 explorers loaded with camera gear getting hopelessly lost thirty feet from a derp before. Tssh.

Bellies full of fish and chips and now with a train to catch we bid adios to dear ol’ Blighty and the very confused seagull trying to hitch a lift from the queuing cars. Through the night we drive and through various stages of consciousness I slumbered until we finally arrive at stupid o’clock to our weekends first foray into continental exploring, Grand Moulins, an impressive gothic structure I have fuck all photos of.

Yes, after an hour or two of me enjoying a pleasant mooch in the dark around the grounds stupidly waiting for the sun to creep up over the horizon so I could finally get some outside shots without having to use my clumpy tripod and my camera now finally half way out my bag our visit was somewhat interrupted by the local fuzz, one of whom was, as has already been pointed out in past reports, a total babe.

Thankfully more amused than annoyed the six officers escorted us back to our car which by this point had been completely boxed in by very official looking police vehicles and another half a dozen coppers. Clearly it was a quiet night for the Lile force.

After giving Jess a half hearted telling off (she being the only one who could speak french all the rest of us could do was just try and look as sheepish as possible) we were free to leave which we did. Quickly.

So, onto the explores.

DAY ONE

Doel

A graffiti artists wet dream, Doel is an abandoned village North of Antwerp. Mostly brought up by the port wanting to expand, and left to ruin while the few residents that now remain slowly trickle out, it is now awaiting demolition but in the mean time this unique explore has become a living street art gallery with some of the finest examples of graffiti I have ever seen.

A finer place as any to mooch, the vast amount of space available to freely wander meant the group split up and met back up again several times. You could quite easily spend an entire day here but we had other fish to fry so just a very enjoyable morning it was to be.

Doel-6873_zps0480177b.jpg

Doel-6880_zps5abd99c9.jpg

Doel-6883_zps031ae583.jpg

Doel-6918_zps99134d1a.jpg

Doel-6970_zps199d0a44.jpg

Doel-6862_zps3bae1962.jpg

Bones Out lending a helpful hand by scaring away Doel's last few remaining residents.

Doel-6890_zps3e2ab22a.jpg

No explanation required.

Doel-6959_zpsf34d4126.jpg

Doel-6980_zps22073dac.jpg

Doel-6990_zps603d00f9.jpg

Du Parc

I rather arrogantly thought this place was a shit hole. Possibly me literally stepping in a pile of shit and skidding for a good couple of feet, nearly taking out Ant in the process, swayed my opinion of it somewhat.

Most of the explore I spent sulking with my camera firmly in my bag incase of any more poop related incidents but looking at the shots the others in the group came back with I can see that perhaps I was a tad hasty in rushing to my judgement of this site. It does have some photographic potential.

(It’s also a shit hole.)

DuParc-7034_zpsee37bbe8.jpg

I do like this picture I took though. One of the few things left standing in there.

Tapioca House

Now we are talking. Possibly my favourite site from our little weekend away.

Greeted by a local walking her dogs while we were all standing conspicuously outside the site with our big fuck off camera bags and tripods doing everything but whistling and looking aimlessly up at the sky in trying not to look like we were until about a second before planning on nipping around the fence and rolling on in.

Thankfully she was very understanding of our very obvious mental illness and spoke briefly about the site before bidding us good day and thus our planned entry continued undisturbed.

I spent a worryingly long amount of time in here and no doubt frustrated the hell out of the rest of the party who probably just wanted to take a few shots and bugger off but with this site being the way it was and me a self described ‘stuff photographer’ I was well and truly in my element and it would have taken an armed swot team descending on the site to get me to leave before I was well and truly done (which thankfully for me, but not for the rest of my group, never happened).

Mook meanwhile was having a little kip in the car. Just because.

TapiocaFarm-7211_zps68e4a1e7.jpg

In most of the rooms I got so caught up in taking close up shots I forgot to take any wides. Doh.

TapiocaFarm-7147_zpsce06ba1c.jpg

TapiocaFarm-7180_zps95900888.jpg

TapiocaFarm-7159_zps47187479.jpg

TapiocaFarm-7205_zps84068084.jpg

Hofstadt Swimming Stadium

Last stop of the day, Hofstadt Swimming Stadium, which was an unusual little explore with not a whole lot happening but still made for a couple of nice snaps and a chance to explore in the fresh air and baking hot Belgian sunshine for a change. Bumped into some fellow explorers here.

HofstadtSwimmingStadium-7243_zps8ee2bf57.jpg

HofstadtSwimmingStadium-7249_zpsba53c2c6.jpg

Pretentious arty shot ahoy!

HofstadtSwimmingStadium-7259_zps9e861a19.jpg

Edited by Luke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DAY TWO

Villa Wallfahrt

First explore of the second day and what a site to begin with. Like with Tapioca I was in bloody heaven here, to the point where I got a sad but well meaning pat on the shoulder from Bones and told not to rush as he and everyone else slowly traipsed back to the car leaving me behind knowing full well I would be snapping away happily for another hour at least.

Thankfully for them I wasn’t quite that long and emerged gleefully blinking in the morning sunshine not that far behind my since departed crew who had in the meantime gone looking for milk for tea. Which is near impossible to find in Belgium it seems.

It had not been all that long since my grandfathers funeral and I must confess the godawful furniture and decorations in Wallfaht reminded me a bit of their old house where I spent many a day over the summer holidays in and it made my eyes more than a little misty walking around this one. It just felt familiar somehow.

So much stuff to photograph here, though as the location is getting so well known nowadays you can see it’s clearly starting to get trashed around the edges. And some knob-end has nicked the pheasant. The bastards.

VillaWallfahrt-7305_zps0f3a1649.jpg

VillaWallfahrt-7321_zpsaca3697b.jpg

VillaWallfahrt-7364_zps9c33dd3c.jpg

VillaWallfahrt-7408_zps377566f5.jpg

VillaWallfahrt-7413_zps84337f75.jpg

VillaWallfahrt-7414_zps71ea5b11.jpg

Peggy Olson from Mad Men, no?

VillaWallfahrt-7422_zps8e0fe7f3.jpg

VillaWallfahrt-7425_zps56556eaa.jpg

VillaWallfahrt-7427_zps0bbc3ee0.jpg

VillaWallfahrt-7436_zpsa9c47f08.jpg

VillaWallfahrt-7444_zps9fb4555f.jpg

VillaWallfahrt-7457_zpsb2258a53.jpg

Duvel Bowling Mill

Is it a mill that was turned into a bowling alley or is it a bowling alley themed like a mill? Who the fuck knows but it was certainly one of the most unique explores I have done. We got more than a few weird looks for a local who was hovering around outside but we pressed on regardless. Mook slept this one out as well.

BowlingMill-7476_zpse44623ea.jpg

BowlingMill-7493_zpsa9690fdf.jpg

BowlingMill-7495_zps357e485e.jpg

Atelier Decor

One of the urbex classics. Went into this one thinking it would be another trashed Du Parc but as Mookster commented on his report from our weekend away, I was ‘pleasantly surprised’ at what I found.

Light was a bit funny in here so many of my photos didn’t turn out all that great but got a few crackers nonetheless. Spent a good while fixating on 'stuff' as I usually do and then found out just as we were all leaving that the adjacent house Mookster "misremembered" as having nothing in it actually contained more than a few gems to call its own so with a few groans a hurried explore of that was also called for. Sorry guys.

AtelierDecor-7569_zpse3944380.jpg

AtelierDecor-7573_zpsc2dbb7c9.jpg

AtelierDecor-7602_zpsca68b436.jpg

AtelierDecor-7608_zps48de7738.jpg

What... I don't even...

Our entire trip was soundtracked by Mookster shouting at his phone to work and by a song that the radio station was clearly being held hostage and forced to play repeatedly at gun point which appeared to consist entirely of the word ‘Formidable’ (my rusty school days french translated that to ‘great’ which the song, like my French, definitely wasn’t).

Other incidents of note worth mentioning included the Sat-Nav containing all our sites breaking the moment we landed on enemy soil and started working again the moment we packed up readying to leave, discovering a Mario Kart like shortcut by taking a private service road while driving down a motorway tunnel, crashing into the site of the Eurotunnel train (or did the train crash into the side of us)...

BonesOut-7633_zpsf79d7443.jpg

...the discovery and shortly after conquering of Battery Island, which I suspect is where the government disposes of the dead batteries they use to power Belgium (haven't they heard of these so called rechargeable batteries that exist in this 21st century we live in?)...

Dunkirk-7635_zpsba6dfb5d.jpg

...and the 2013 British invasion of Dunkirk by Cyberbones (fatty at the back is not amused)!

So there you have it. Landed home safe and sound without a scratch (though perhaps a slightly dented wing mirror) and we are already in the early stages of planning the next one. Now I can see what all the fuss is about, Belgium really does just work for explores.

If you have made it this far thanks for sharing my journey with me ladies and gentlemen, I hope you have enjoyed our humble tale of swashbuckling adventure, human tragedy and laugh out loud comedy. I know I certainly did.

Good company and good explores, you really couldn't ask for anything more!

A quick shout out to Mookster for playing tour guide so graciously even when the chips (or in this case Sat-Nav) were down and a huge debt of gratitude to the one and only Bones Out for driving us the 650 mile round trip to the far ends of the earth and back without a single grumble to his name. His generosity knows no bounds.

Edited by Luke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a better write up than a Neil Gamon / Tom Sharpe novel fella.

fannytastic stuff, your pictures are spot on and bring back fun memories, what this hobby is all about!

Cheers Luke, I want moar.........

PS, that last shot, it is isnt it, like it is France's version of little britain?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Scattergun

Wooo yeh, holiday fun :) I enjoyed that. Glad you had such a successful first trip!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BOOM British invade and well,cracking shots Luke and what a great write up, looked like a fun packed weekend I can't help but wonder why you bought a picture of the man :PVilla Wallfahrt #5 (sorry bones) look forward to seeing some more thanks for sharing Luke :cool:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Dubbednavigator

That my friend is possibly the best write up ive seen on a forum. What an effort :thumb

Quite gutted i couldn't come now, Bones did mention you were looking to do it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Similar Content

    • By KnM
      My first post to this forum.
      Today we visited a factory somewhere in Belgium. 
      It used to be a plant where soda but mostly water was bottled and then prepared for distribution to grocery stores in Belgium and surrounding countries. 
      The factory stopped being productive because of  a severe collapse of the roof. 
      We didn't have any hightech-equipment so I used my iPhone to make some pics. enjoy!
       

       
       

       
       

       
       

       
       
       
       
       
       
    • By Arborshate
      Hey everyone!
       
      It's been a while since our small Belgium/Luxembuorg/France-Roadtrip in September, but now I finally had the time to recall this one and edit some of the images.
      As I'm totally new to photography, I would be very delighted to hear your opinion on the photos and processing! (:
       

      1st day:Usine Barbele

      The entrance was quite easy. The place where the hole in the fence should be seemed to have been closed a few times already; but everytime a new hole was opened just a few steps further. Arriving at the heart of the plant, we quickly made our way up to the rows of coking furnaces.
      It was a rather dark day, clouds hanging heavily in the sky, and we stopped many times when some loose parts made loud crashing noises, moved by the wind. We did not feel comfortable here, it seemed like we were not welcome.
       

       

       

       
      After taking some portraits at the big fans, my girlfriend told me she was hearing engine sounds, and we decided to rush into a small cabin at the side of the  road and hide. And really, she was right: A black Dacia made its way slowly around the plant, passing the shed where we were hiding. We heard it stopping somewhere, opening and closing it's doors again, and we were in complete agreement we should leave this place as fast as posible. Hiding behind everything we found, we fled along the side of the way, stopping and quietly peeking back every now and then.
       

      2nd day: HFB

      We decided to be quick with this one when thinking back to the day before. We made our way to the blast
      furnace, took some photos and left again. We'll have a look at the rest of the site on our tour in march.
       

       
       

      ET Phone Home

      I found this one online just the day before, and after a short research, I had the coordinates. After having a
      stop at a small park to have a look at a sculpture we wanted to see, we quickly headed over the fields
      toward this one. We arrived at sunset, and after strolling through high grass and climbing the small fence,
      we stood in the middle of those antennas. I really liked the view, but I'm not at all pleased with the
      pictures I made. Maybe we'll repeat that one someday.
       

       
       

      3rd day: Diesel Power Plant

      Not much to say. The door that was said to be open was closed again, so we moved on to the sea and did
      not any exploration that day.
       
       
      4th day: Salle des Compresseurs
       
      We made our way in from the west. According to the parts we found in this wasteland, it used to be some kind of power station. There are also some basement structures where you can still find some electrical gear.
      The compressor house was a nice little place - nice machines looking like ducks, rust, peeling paint, plants. Beautiful.
       

       
       

      5th day: Power Plant X

      The access to this one was said to be "a bit dirty", but i really enjoyed it. We took some shots in the boiler room and moved on to the pumping room in the next building.
      Sadly we didn't get to see the big hall with the gas motors as renovation work was going on - the space was lit up like a soccer field and plastic sheets were covering windows and machines. Let's hope it gets well preserved for the posterity so they can enjoy that view too!
       

       

       
       
       
      Terres Rouges
       
      This one was easy. We heard stories of police driving around and were careful, but luckily nothing happened. The place isn't as impressive as HFB or Usine Barbele and in a quite bad shape, but there were some nice perspectives.
      It was raining cats and dogs, so we didn't have much time to shoot the nice reflections.
       

       

       

       
       
       
      That's it for now. There aren't so much images as we also did a bit of sightseeing and I sorted out a bunch that I didn't like or weren't able to process to the point where I could post them with a good feeling Hope you still like them!
      If you like to see some (but that's not THAT much) more images, you can hit up my flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/152392524@N08/albums
      We'll do another tour in March (Be, Lux, Fr, Es, It, Ch) and hopefully we'll come back with more pictures. Maybe I'll also add some of my older images.
      And of course, thanks a lot to the people that helped me with the locations and confirmed my researched coordinates - it's really nice to know how to get in and somebody has been there recently. I won't publish the names here so that you don't get flooded with requests, I hope that's ok. You rock!
       
      best wishes from Germany,
      Nico
    • By franconiangirl
      It´s a special kind of silence that´s being felt all over that place. It´s peaceful. Heather´s growing like a carpet and right between all the weathered stone crosses. Once made out of plain stone, they now mark the human remains of former patients of the nearby psychiatric hospital, who deceased between the years 1921 - 1981. As the cemetery was opened in '21 the hospital was still named "Rijkskrankzinnigengesticht"  ("public mental hospital") - a customary term at that time. Around 1750 - exclusively male - patients were buried here. As mentioned above, the last one in 1981.

      The graves itselves are designed pretty simple. The individual stone cross only contains a metal plate with the name as well as the date of birth and death of the patient in respective. You can´t help it but ask yourself what kind of lives they might had had. It was not uncommon that patients had to spend a significant part of their lives in such institutions, not to say even their whole lives. One thing is certain at last. They all had to spend the rest of their lives within an institution, which excluded them from society.

      The graveyard itself is located right in the middle of the woods. Thanks to the sunny weather of a late summer´s day, it helped to find the atmosphere more peaceful than anything else. The sun was shining and created an immense heat between the stone crosses and the heather growing all over the place, just helped to add friendliness to the whole scenery. I´m sure a cold, misty November´s day would change the whole atmosphere completely. Yet, the friendly weather that day couldn´t delude me from that gloomy mood arising deep down. All those seemingly perfect stone crosses in a row, those bleached out plastic flowers on some of the graves and further, partly indefinable objects being found on the site - remnants of an unique culture of memory - made me feel quite uneasy. 

      Shortly before leaving the grounds, I spotted a pretty new-looking plushie, a mouse. Sitting right on one of the crosses, already with cobwebs on its head. It really appeared out of place. My gaze settled on the fence around the burial site. Right in the middle of the woods, I could see a woman standing on the other side of the fence. Rooted at the spot and gazing at me as well. Or maybe she wasn´t even looking at me, but the whole scenery itself. I started to feel a bit uneasy, as I feared she wouldn´t like me to be right in the middle of that burial site. Yet, when I started to approach her, I was able to recognise her as a patient of the still existing psychiatric hospital nearby. Apparently, she was on an excursion through the woods with other patients, but had left the group for a short time. I really asked myself, what her thoughts were. I´ll never know. Coming nearer, she disappeared in the thicket and I left the cemetery grounds. 




















    • By Baldrickthecunning
      This was an odd explore, from the front of the building it looked like a standard office block but the inside told a different story.
      First off, some fairly standard looking CNC machines - but the further in we ventured the clearer it became. There was an entire production line left in situ for making alloy wheels!
      Each stage of the build process had its own machining area and the wheels were transported from one area to the next on a huge conveyor system - everything from milling, shot blasting, heat treatment, lacquering and pressure testing. Many of the machines had lot numbers attached and it was my guess that it wouldn't be long before everything including an immaculate rack of machine tools were auctioned off.
      We gradually made our way to the front of the building, where the only notable room was a small laboratory - still half equipped. An enjoyable explore and a good end to the day.
      Visited with Jaff Fox and thanks to H for his info.














      This sign, roughly translated means: food and drink are strictly prohibited in the lacquer plant.




      Mr. B!
×