First report in a couple years, still been getting out and about but just been very busy with other life admin for reports, got a day at home on the sick twiddling my thumbs so thought i would write summit up about our trip to red sands last year. Did the trip with bigjobs, paradox, riddlers, FB, slayaa and a few other guys who i think are registered but post on the forums even less than me so god knows what their usernames are.
Bit of History
The Maunsell Forts are armed towers built in the Thames and Mersey estuaries during the Second World War to help defend the United Kingdom. They were operated as army and navy forts, and named after their designer, Guy Maunsell. The forts were decommissioned in the late 1950s and later used for other activities including pirate radio broadcasting. One of the forts is managed by the unrecognised Principality of Sealand; boats visit the remaining forts occasionally, and a consortium called Project Redsands is planning to conserve the fort situated at Red Sands.
In the summers of 2007 and 2008 Red Sands Radio, a station commemorating the pirate radio stations of the 1960s, operated from the Red Sands fort on 28-day Restricted Service Licences. The fort was subsequently declared unsafe, and Red Sands Radio has moved its operations ashore to Whitstable.
Previously, forts had been built in rivermouths and similar locations to defend against ships, such as the Grain Tower Batteryat the mouth of the Medway dating from 1855, Plymouth Breakwater Fort, completed 1865, the four Spithead Forts: Horse Sand Fort, No Mans Land and St Helens Forts which were built 1865-80; and Spitbank Fort, built in the 1880s, the Humber Forts on Bull & Haile Sands, completed in late 1919, and the Nab Tower, intended as part of a World War I anti-submarine defence but only set in place in 1920.
There are seven towers in the Red Sands group, at the mouth of the Thames Estuary. These towers were previously connected by metal grate walk-ways. In 1959 consideration was given to refloating the Red Sands Fort and bringing the towers ashore, but the costs were prohibitive. In the early 21st century there were threats that the fort could be demolished so a group called Project Redsands was formed to try and preserve the fort. It is currently the only fort that can be accessed safely from a platform in between the legs of one of the towers.[
Wanted to do this since seeing bigjobs and FBs trip out their on the kayaks through the mist, if you havent seen it already definitely well worth a look, makes for a better read than mine will anyway! We didn't fancy the kayaks this time so we all got the outboards out and set sale with some horsepower behind us.....untill mine died, i say until it died, it never really got going, overheated and cut out in a puff of smoke in the first 5 minutes. That was my first outboard, i had a smaller backup outboard just in case of any such incidents as the first bigger outboard i had literally collected off ebay on the way down. anyway long outboard story short, i got towed out by bigjobs, that was once we eventually got in the water, everyone else had already been out one night but me and sarah were late to the party so we came in first thing. i say first thing, we were late to meet up with jobs and ended up chasing the tide with all the gear, would get half the gear out to the waters edge then by the time the other half was in the same spot the bloody tide had moved another 10m! We did eventually get in the water and headed out to the forts.
On the approach to the sea fort we passed through some leisure boats circling the forts taking tourists out to see the forts, no doubt all wondering what the hell was going because just as we pulled in the riddlers came zipping down the rope and landed in FBs rib like a pro navy seal. We got the boats tied up and ascended up to the forts to crack open a beer and enjoy the views! FB and riddlers decided they were going to have a pop at getting up one of the other struts to see if they could get a line across vertically with the crossbow to sort out a traverse, they got the line across but then beers and food happened so no one went for the traverse. Had a lovely evening on the forts, amazing sunset watching the freight ships chugging past. FB and jane went for a jolly out to the wind farm Time for tea and bangers and mash was on the menu but i had forgotten my camping gas, luckily i managed to bodge my camping stove onto a big bottle of calor gas which had been left on the fort, bit of rubber hose a few cable ties and a bit of dismantling on the burners part and the bangers mash was a success!
We woke up to fairly choppy waters, made for a rushed and slightly tense departure in the morning, the choppy waters had snapped one of the lines holding the boats in position ready to ab down into. The boats were now drifting about 10m away from the bottom of the ab rope. cant remember who it was now, either fb or riddlers had to ab down and try and drag all the boats over back in line underneath the ab rope and then get a line out to replace the snapped one. We got lucky with the rope that did snap, if the other line had snapped the current would have dragged the boats into the struts and the barnacles would have torn the boats to shreds and we really would have been up shit creek. oh yeah i forgot, at this point we had yet another dead outboard! the riddlers pull chord had snapped off the day before, i went on the hunt round the forts and found a rusty old socket set in an old toolbox so the first job once back in the boats in the choppy sea was for law to try and get his outboard sorted. luckily the sea did begin to calm down as we were all abing down into the boats and we set back off without any major incidents. It was a big realization just what a relentless and unforgiving force the sea can be, as an awesome and adventure as this is its one that can go wrong very quickly. There had been plenty of prep and investment gone into this adventure, we made sure everyone had suitable life jackets, radios, flares, everyone had rope experience, big help having someone who knows their way around an outboard engines etc etc, its certainly not a walk in the park operation! big thanks to jobs, for getting everything all rigged up prior to our arrival, it sounds like you all had a rough time of it getting up there the first night!
Riddlers doing his navy seal impresson
Right tools for the job.
bed for the night
The bangers and mash will go on!
Thanks for reading and bigger thanks to everyone who made it happen. see you again in 2 years for another report!
Albania is one of those countries where I didn't really know what to expect. Recent history saw the collapse of communism in the 90s which caused the economy to crash. Since then It has made remarkable economic progress, growing from one of the poorest nations in Europe to a middle-income country, with poverty declining by half during that period. We travelled from north to south and back again taking in a few places along the way. The people are friendly, the food is good, it has decent weather, and everything is extremely cheap. Here's some of what I got up to with Adders, extreme_ironing, Otter and Reenie.
In the main square of Tirana the National History Museum has this famous mosaic called 'The Albanian' on the front. It tells the story of how Albanians have fought against invasion and occupation throughout the centuries.
Just down the road are these colourful government buildings
In the middle of the countryside we passed this communist monument, the 5 red stars symbolising communist ideology
Shëngjin Naval Base
After an epic fail elsewhere we headed to this small naval base which turned out to be pretty cool. I've already written a separate report on this so I won't include much about it here.
Fier Power Plant
Fier Power Station was Albania's largest thermal power plant having 6 identical groups of 31 MW each, totalling a capacity of 186 MW. The plant was decommissioned in 2007. Much of the site next to it was a fertiliser factory powered by the plant. The whole site has been completely stripped now, leaving just bland shells of buildings. The imposing chimneys and cooling towers however remain visible for miles as a reminder of its former importance.
Old security office next to the original gate
Always wanted a shot of adders pissing
Cooling tower ladders have long since been removed
The best bit about this place was taking in the views from one of the factory towers, although the staircase was a bit of a headfuck
Factory buildings below
The turbine hall. Amazingly two security guys appeared from nowhere and made us leave before we could grab any shots of the inside. You're really not missing much though as the turbines have been removed along with everything else. Why anyone is securing it is completely beyond me!
Kombinati Metalurgjik, Elbasan
Elbasan is located about 50km from the capital of Albania, Tirana. The Kombinati Metalurgjik steel works, a flagship of the Albanian industry, was built between the 1960s and 1970s. The complex was built by Chinese engineers with the assistance of Albanian specialists. The levels of pollution caused by the plant were the subject of much controversy in the 90s. The size of the site is colossal but only a few buildings remain operational today. Much of it is derelict beyond repair or has already been flattened.
Most of the buildings you see in the distance here are barely standing. You can see the remains of a blast furnace to the left.
The only buildings worth a look were located right next to the live site. This one was locked up tight with several dogs acting as security inside.
Next door a few buildings were wide open
Buckets for pouring molten steel
Small control room. After this we went back to the car and found an old man shaking his walking stick at us angrily so we left.
There were a few more buildings full of stuff that we didn't manage to get into as they were well locked up. Definitely a bit more to see here I think but nothing too epic.
Përrenjas - Locomotive Graveyard
The country's first standard gauge line was built in 1947. From then on the construction of the country's rail network underwent significant development as Albania was considered to be the only state in Europe not to have standard rail service. By 1987, 677 km of railway had been constructed in total, linking the main urban and industrial centres for the first time since the end of World War II. Train transport was the main transportation method until 1990. After the collapse of Communism, and increase in use of motor vehicles, the network fell into disrepair. Today the country's rail network is almost entirely defunct. In Përrejas we visited this group of abandoned diesel ČKD T669 locomotives.
Përrenjas abandoned station. There was a man inside there who didn't appreciate us climbing on the trains
Pyramid of Tirana
On 14 October 1988, the pyramid opened as a museum about the legacy of Enver Hoxha, the long-time leader of Communist Albania, who died in 1985. When built, the pyramid was said to be the most expensive individual structure ever constructed in Albania. After 1991, following the collapse of Communism, the museum closed and for several years it was repurposed as a conference centre and exhibition venue. During the 1999 Kosovo War, the former museum was used as a base by NATO and humanitarian organisations. Since 2001, part of the Pyramid has been used as a broadcasting centre by Albanian media outlets Top Channel and Top Albania Radio. Numerous proposals have been made to demolish the structure but the majority of Tirana's citizens are against the demolition. In 2017 it was announced that the pyramid will not be demolished, but refurbished. In 2018, a new project was unveiled that would turn the Pyramid into a technology centre for youth focused on computer programming, robotics, and start ups.
Inside I bumped into a sleepy eyed squatter who invited me to take a look around.
We meant to have a pop at this under construction skyscraper overlooking the main square but unfortunately ran out of time
Not a particularly impressive view from up here but certainly a unique one
A few friends we made along the way
A bunker full of goats all set for the apocalypse. Just one of the 173,371 bunkers in Albania!
Thanks for looking!
Visited with 3 non members not really knowing much about the place other than it looked pretty cool from the outside. Damp and water damage had done a pretty good job on the place but it was still well worth visiting and the start of an amazing day.
Can't really find much on this place but before its abandonment, it was owned by a local water authority in relation to the nearby reservoir of the same name.
these animals were positioned exactly like this when i found them, honest...
Alright, this is my first post on here but I will get right to it. This hospital is trashed beyond belief but was still fun to explore.
It was shut down in 1992 after the USAF pulled out of George AFB following the end of the cold war. These pictures were taken in December of 2018.
A night in the Paris Metro
My first report for a while and I felt that my photos from each location wouldn't create a substantial enough report. Because of this I decided to compile them into a more lengthy post documenting the night in which we explored various sections of the Paris Metro. I hope you enjoy reading my story and seeing the images I managed to capture.
After arriving in Paris with @Letchbo for a short weekend break, we decided to begin our night of exploring by hitting a classic metro spot. Once we'd safely entered the area we wanted to photograph, we hid in an alcove for a short period of time. Patiently waiting for the end of service with front row seats to watch the last remaining trains hurl past us. As soon the service concluded for the night, we eagerly got our cameras out and started shooting. Fortunately we managed to grab a couple of decent photos before we heard what we presumed were track workers approaching nearby. We quickly concluded it was best to abort mission and keep moving ahead. Photographing sections of track as we progressed down the line, until we reached the next station and swiftly departed unnoticed. By the time we were back out above ground the night was still young and we headed onto our next location.
View of a train passing on Line 10
The double raccord
We'd visited this spot earlier in the year along with @Conrad and @DirtyJigsaw after visiting another of Paris' famous ghost stations. But when we arrived at this one, we noticed a large number workers across the tracks and decided to give it a miss. Fast forward to October, we thought try our luck again. My partner made his way over the fence but as I was about to climb in and join him, someone abruptly stopped me in my tracks.
The rather authoritative looking chap approached me and continued speaking to me in French (to which I didn't fully understand.) I politely explained we were English. He then proceeded to pull a badge out and clearly stated to me the word every urban explorer wants to hear on a night out exploring the metro.
That's when we thought the night had sadly come to a prompt conclusion. Fortunately for us after a brief discussion with us claiming to be photographing the canal, he decided to allow us to resume our business and once he was well out of sight we made our way straight in.
Onto a bit of history, Arsenal station was officially opened in 1906 and is located in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. In addition to this, it is also situated on line 5 between the Bastille and Quai de la Rapée stations. After 33 years of operation, it was closed in 1939 at the start of the Second World War. This was due to French resistance members allocating the area as an ammunition depot. Once Paris had been liberated from German forces August of 1944, a battle more commonly known as Battle for Paris and Belgium. It was decided reopening Arsenal would be inefficient. This was on account of its close proximity to neighbouring stations which limited the flow of passengers. For 75 years the station has been largely abandoned aside from graffers, urban explorers, photographers and avid thrill seekers, such as ourselves.
Once we'd grabbed a few shots of the abandoned Arsenal Station, we continued photographing another small section of track further down the line. It was quite photogenic and was a welcomed bonus to what had already been a predominately successful night for the both of us.
Before long the morning was fast approaching, coinciding with the threat of the service resuming. We reluctantly called it a night, making our way out and back to our accommodation, covered in metro dust and feeling pretty relieved we managed to pull it all off after a few close encounters.
As always if you got this far, thanks for reading