GES087 - Northern & City Lines (upper & lower)
It may appear that it's very easy and straightforward to get into some of the places on here, but it's certainly not. For sites like these, the biggest obstacle is workers present in the area. Because you really DON'T want to be caught on the tracks. As such I think we'd visited here 3 or 4 times before we got a clean attempt. The first time we turned up, there was a layer of snow on the ground, and the feeling was we'd be too obvious. Lucky really, as after we walked away, a gang of workers turned up in trucks. Sometimes instinct is good.
We'd been swapping bits of detail for awhile, and GE086 should get a mention for his input. However after a look around by GE077 and I during a drizzly Saturday afternoon, it would require a hands on approach. GE077 set about doing that, by locating the access point to the NCLs. So all that was left was a worker free attempt. We turned up for another go, and found the gates to the tracks open. This wasn't right. And as GE007 creeped down the path, we spotted a car parked under a bridge. Sitting between where we were and where we needed to get too. There was a guy just sat in it doing nothing. Oh well. We wandered off the long way back and as we passed the gates we noticed that a padlock was snapped shut, rather than open as before., Hmmm. A cursory check showed that the track gates were locked up as well. Suddenly our downbeat mood changed. We got in and wandered down to the access point area. On getting to the bridge, we were relieved to see no car there.
We ploughed on through the damp claggy mud, and kept our eyes darting at the many ways we could be spotted. As we entered an area with a mish mash of tracks crossing each other and disappearing underground. GE077 dropped down to some tracks, and we followed him into a tunnel. The pir in the entrance clearly not working. Ahead of us stretched out a very much not live tube tunnel. The tracks were scrappy at best, with rails missing here and there. Another tunnel ran parallel to this one, which had tracks with ceramic cups still in place.
A cross through passage into the other NCL tunnel.
As we progressed up the tunnels towards North London, we passed through a door in the tunnel. On the other side was a live storage area, with varying sized bits of track all stacked up.
A more intact section of tunnel
A pipe ninja gives props to those that came before him and left their tag.
Difficult to see in this shot, but there is a high ceiling at the far side of this crossover. Just over the rickety shack like structure that serves little purpose.
Not too far up from here we came to quite literally the end of the tunnel. Steps lead up on the left to the Viccy Line and a path lead out on the right to the Viccy line. This is a shot of the very much live Viccy Line through the path on the right.
The tunnel up the stairs on the left was different in construction and obviously newer. You can see reinforced concrete is used rather than iron tubes. Also there's a nice little path to walk down, so you don't get squished by trains. While taking these shots and talking to GE007, we could a here a fairly repetitive thump thump thump type sound. GE007 put this down to being a machine being used up the tracks, and to be fair, it did sound like one. I didn't think much of it. I went down to the other tracks again and wanted to take a pic of the end of the tunnel layout. When I heard the thump noise get louder. And then I noticed a torch beam bouncing off the walls and tracks. The obvious became reality, the noise was a line inspector walking down the tracks. Shit! GE077 was near me and we were grabbing our stuff as I called quietly up to GE007 who was on the upper level. We all legged it as quietly as one can do on loose stone floor back towards the access point.
At this point I wanted to grab a shot as below, as I hadn't managed to get one. Thinking a quick flash shot wouldn't be seen by the line inspector in the other tunnel. I quickly tried to fish out the flash and was attaching it to the camera when the thump thump noise was parallel to where I was. The inspector was coming right past. I stood in the darkness expecting the inspector to walk through the crossthrough near the shack like structure in a photo above. The others were way off down the tunnel. However the inspector kept on going without sticking his head around the corner. As i heard his footsteps disappear off down the Viccy line tunnel i gave a sigh of relief. After giving it a few minutes, I got the shot I wanted below. As you can see, it was totally worth almost getting caught for!
I regrouped with the others and we headed back to the access point. Stopping i the bottom section of the tunnels where there was no way into the Viccy line (and any inspectors) to do some light painting. And with that we exited the way we came in. Thankful no workers had turned up in our absence underground.
Having completed the upper NCLs, it was now a case of visiting the lower NCLs. Easier said than done. As the area is a maze of tracks and tunnels. Working out where they are isn't easy. We had a tip off from GE010 that it involved going through some allotments. A glance at googlemaps, and we had some idea of where we were looking.for them. Cue a while later, and a night of tunnels was planned. I studied the area closely from googlemaps, and favoured going through a car park and then some woods. As we entered the car park we found there were some infrared lights that illuminated the whole car park. A quick dash for a gate into the woods, and as I was about to go over, a nosy neighbour walked down their garden to see what was going on. So I spent the next 10mins hiding behind a bush until they left. Popping down through the woods I met the others. They'd had a cursory look around and not found anything. GE007 and I decided to go check out the tunnel we were near. A jog through the gloom, and we emerged a few minutes later out the other side. This just didn't seem right. The tracks went on into the distance, no sign of any old tube tunnels. So we jogged back to find GE077. However he'd vanished. Texts and phonecalls unanswered. Stood around wondering what next, I favoured going underneath a bridge in the opposite direction to the tunnel we'd emerged from. We walked down the loose paving stones making too much noise as they rattled beneath our feet. On emerging from the bridge we found we were next to another tunnel just below us. I did say this area was a maze! So GE007 bravely descended a rather precarious looking descent. And had a quick look around. He came back saying it looked a goer. So I carefully stood on various cables and dodgy looking cable mounts to get down. We were in the entrance to a twin bore mainline tunnel, which sat directly behind an overground station. The stairs descending down the middle of the pic below leading onto the platforms. GE007 just to the right of the stairs, and behind him is the wall we descended.
With my back to the stairs and overground station, this was the view into the tunnel. A mixture of live rails and mainline rails leading into two tunnels.
We chose to go down the right hand tunnel and see what we found. We went about 50m, and came across this cross through section. I recognised it from another explorer's photos, GEO042, so I knew we were in the right area.
Another 50m - 100m or so, and the tunnel opened up to reveal a second tunnel next to the right hand tunnel. The Lower NCL tunnel.
I have to say, compared to upper NCLs, this was definitely the weaker of the two. It was basically a 100m long tunnel with nothing of particular interest. This is looking at the doorway into the shot above.
A cross through passage into the lefthand tunnel from the overground station. The NCL tunnel sits between the two mainline tunnels passing either side. As we sat outside the NCL, we could hear station announcements coming from further down the tracks and the odd sound of activity, so we didn't linger, and set about exiting. We got a text from GE077 finally, saying he was at B&B (GES088) our 2nd of 3 explores that night, along with MR tube station.