GES168 - Mersey Metro Network, UK
I seem to have made a habit of late, of being dragged kicking and screaming out of explore meets and parties by GE074 and GE063. However the rewards are worth it. On a rare excursion out of London, I went up to an explorer's birthday in Manchester. After sneaking into a hotel's clock tower and sharing some beers, laughs and stories, It was time to check out, and climb into GE074's car. Driving down the M62, with it's marvellous 50mph speed limits for no apparent reason, we sailed through Liverpool, and headed under the Mersey to Birkenhead. Chewing up the datarates on GE074's iPhone, we found what I thought would be a good entrance point. Sometimes the difference between what seems possible on googlemaps and reality, can be a let down. On this occassion, it wasn't.
Negotiating with my favourite type of fence, a palisade, we all made it in without shredding too much clothing. A gentle slope lead down to the tracks, and we carefully sat taking in the ambience, and listening out for trouble. All good, we started off down the poorly lit tunnel. Not wanting to use torches, we had to stumble along in the low light. The tunnel had an eerie silence to it. Unlike London, there wasn't the strange noises that float along the tunnels, or the gentle hum from machinery somewhere.
It seemed a fair way, but eventually we came upon our first station. It confirmed we were following the route I'd expected, and we sat and watched the station for awhile, to be aware of sounds or even sight of someone who should be there. Not being convinced there was an imminent threat, we climbed up onto the platform and shifted down, conscious we were on camera most of the way. As we reached the surface access exit points, it got brighter.
A pause for a group shot, and we sauntered off back into the tunnel. A feeling that this was maybe a bit too easy. It was really odd that bearing this in mind, there wasn't huge amounts of graffiti daubed everywhere. This played on my mind as we pressed on into the tunnel.
Not long after leaving the previous station, we encountered a split in the tunnel. A seemingly older brick tunnel on the left, and a more modern round concrete tunnel on the right. Common sense would have said to have taken the tunnel on the left, but we opted for the one on the right with less clearance and more certainty of debilitating injuries if we met a train in there.
The tunnel seemed to be a long curve, initially I thought it would curve underneath the other tunnel, and go down to the river.
However as it opened into a well lit station, I realised that wasn't what was going on. The well lit station prompted a sense of fear, and we didn't dawdle as in the previous station. Instead we ran through on the tracks.
As we did so, we took a glance up into the station, hoping not to see a glimpse of fluorescent orange. An ever present dome cam sat on the ceiling.
On exiting the station, the tracks reunited. It seemed odd to split the tracks like this, especially the difference in height, shape and size.
Turning around 180 degrees from the above shot, we looked down the tunnel into the distant gloom. The tunnel here continues underneath the Mersey. With time approaching 4am, we decided we wouldn't have enough time, so turned around to head back.
Just before we started back through the station we'd just run through, there was a ladder to investigate, that ran up towards the surface. GE074 stepped forward, and climbed up into the darkness. He wasn't gone long, and reported back it was a utility cable tunnel. I took the shot below while I waited for GE074.
We ran back through the station when re-united, and traipsed back the way we'd come. Sleepily we climbed into GE074's car, and ended a second late night on a busy weekend of exploring. Props to GE074 for staying awake and getting us back to Manchester. And to GE063 for the illicit substance supply!