December 27, 2013 | Posted in ARE, Cordite, DERA, DRA, DSTL, ExploreMobile, Holton Heath, MoD, portland, Qinetiq, RAE, Red Bull, Reservoir, RNCF, Royal Navy, RSRE, Underground, water, WW1, WW2 | By sYnc
It was six in the evening and I was hanging, I’d been awake for 2 days and no amount of Red Bull or caffeine was going to improve the situation. My synapses were popping slowly and muffled, as if in the distance….in my brain everything was going 5 frames a second instead of 40 and I think I piloted the ExploreMobile the 30 miles to the final site using Jedi Power alone.
We parked up in a layby carpeted with broken glass waiting for Newage’s crew to arrive, eating anything and everything we had left to try and boost the energy reserves. I really really needed to go home and sleep but we were here and home was a solid 4-5 hour drive. ‘Here’ was RNCF Holton Heath with the sole purpose of exploring the 3.5 million gallon underground reservoir in the middle of this vast complex. The RNCF was setup during WW1 to manufacture cordite for the Royal Navy, it then closed briefly but was brought back into service during WW2 and then after the war the explosives manufacturing areas were shut down and the remainder of the site used by the Admiralty Research Establishment in the 1980’s. The Admiralty Research Establishment (ARE) then became the DRA (Defence Research Agency) and eventually in the late 1990’s the entire site closed down.
Unrelated for this site but of possible interest is that the DRA, which also contained the RAE, A&AEE, RARDE, RSRE became the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) in 1995 (with other agencies) who in turn evolved into DSTL (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) and Qinetiq.
A massive amount of the RNCF site still survives with many interesting structures still standing but this visit was just a quickie, maybe one day we will return.
We fought our way through gorse and other thick undergrowth to spend and hour shooting the pair of resi’s, both curiously of slightly different design before staggering back to the ExploreMobile and pointing it north, finally getting home just before midnight.
P7.2, 320 lumen…nuff said 🙂
For all the Fenix waving Lenser hat0rz out there every single underground shot on this blog is either partially or exclusively lit with a Lenser P7.
I’ve owned many, some are at the bottom of mines and mysterious shafts where they will lay for eternity (yes I feel super guilty about those decaying batteries), some have been lent to people and never returned, some were submerged for months, assumed MIA and then found (working) months later and the surviving ones ones are permanently attached to Cetacea Coil Landyards to prevent anymore waist deep *PLOP* “Oh Shit!!!” moments 🙂
(Need solution for tripod now as last *PLOP* “Shit!!!” moment involved a CSO and a pricey tripod….)
So Lenser released this updated version, this guy is 320 lumen instead of standard 200 lumen so should make some big improvements, he will be coming out on the next underground trip for some testing.
Apologies for the lack of updates, been a lot going on in the last month or so…
This pair of wad0rs didn’t last long, they’ve had a couple of leaks for a while now but I suffered a full ‘blow out’ 250ft from dry land in four feet of stinking, fetid, skanky water yesterday.
In epic Kit Fail stylee at the same moment my 40D started sinking on its tripod, I dropped a Lenser P7 and a P3 in the water (that should have been clipped to me on Paracord…) and flooded my Thrunite Catapult. Water then came over the top of my wad0rs just to add insult to injury. I could feel the Lensers around my feet and could have dived to retrieve them but with the 40D in the other hand it was an easy decision to make….walk away and go buy yet another Lenser Twin Pack…
Three lights down and soaked to the skin we continued the trip and was glad to get out of the wad0rs once away from the location. Suffice to say they went straight in the wheelie bin after I took these shitty cameraphone pix of the damage…..(cheap wad0rs suck by the way).
Their replacements were ordered last week so should be here soon….black Gimp Style rubber with an industrial boot this time 😉
We’ve been hitting this place up for six months now and despite making great progress elsewhere in the mine these pesky arches have been just out of my reach for ages. First time I tried to reach them there was around eight feet of water and they just sat there in the distance teasing me (Picture 1 below), then a few months later the water level had dropped four feet and I was able to get quite close but had to abandon when water was lapping at the top of my tripod (Pic 2 below).
We’ve not been here for a while but on last weekends visit we were amazed to see the water level had dropped totally by the arches and we could walk right past them into virgin territory.
Now we could get down there we shocked as to their purpose…..the mine ceiling was supported on massive wooden cogs built on top of the arches and was at least 8-10 feet above the now buckling steelwork!
If you look at the third shot below you can make out the first two cogs above the steelwork.
Apologies for no more photo’s from this trip, the rest of the day was spent negotiating truly giant, unstable roof falls and getting stuck in three foot deep mud in a very low heading way out in the west. We did find several more Plant Rooms and some curious ‘dams’ that I need to find out more about…
More water filled fun this week which ended up in a near ‘over (chest) wader’ moment in which my tripod disappeared and I nearly played submarines with my Canon. From here its likely to be Inflatable Tenders all the way on another trip to this area to get any deeper though…
(Once the tripod was drained though it seemed happy enough so its passed the test in my book.)