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Exploring the abandoned bunker


WARNING: Even by my standards, climbing into a disused, 50 year old flooded underground structure in the remote countryside is a really dangerous idea. But you're probably going to do it anyway, so here's the rules. Never do it alone, always have someone at the top, bring a rope, phone, torch and appropriate footwear, and make sure your tetanus jabs are up to date !

This picture shows a little bit of history hidden away - and one I've been meaning to explore for ages ! In some remote woodland outside my village is a fenced off clearing, where there are three tiny structures. Two are no bigger than a tree stump, and the third looks the size of a sheep trough form a distance. This is a place that was designed to be difficult to find - and also it's a bit of local history you may find near you !

This is it. Doesn't look like much, does it ?

The hatch in the middle almost looks like the hatch from the TV series Lost.  It is almost as strange: it is an old, abandoned military post that is sixty years old. The roof of the hatch was ripped off many years ago, which had led to bigger problems inside, as you'll see.

When you look down the hatch, you can see a rusted old ladder leading down into water at the bottom. The water is collected rainwater over the years. 

This is one of the small structures at the top, used for air ventilation, meaning that it helps to cycle the air that was in the bunker. 

There are hundreds of these around the UK: these are ROC listening posts, all built to the same design.

What was an ROC listening post ?

ROC listening posts were a network of over 1,500 small bunkers hidden all over over the country, first built during the Cold War. Each one was built about 15 miles away from the next one.. They would have been run by volunteers, who would measure nuclear blast waves and radiation in the event of a nuclear strike on the UK. The concrete in the roof provides protection from nuclear radiation. There's a good piece about them on the BBC News website.

They have a 14 foot shaft going down into a small bunker and a toilet, and were designed for three people at a time. Of the 1,563 posts that were made, half of the posts made have been demolished and most of the others are either vandalised or flooded with water. Only 70 of the posts have been preserved to have they would have looked when in use. One was even made into a cellar.

This was the pipe that lead towards the surface that held the equipment that measured the nuclear blasts.

Only an idiot would think about exploring such a dangerous place. Luckily, I'm a bit of an idiot.

Climbing down

The entrance is quite small, so when I went down, my back was rubbing against the wall. The shaft is about 15 feet deep.

As I was going down , I saw a safety sign on the inside on the hatch door. Because in the event of a nuclear war, the main safety issue might be bumping your head.

I think there was about 20 steps on the ladder, but the last five were under water. When I reached the lowest step I could without getting my feet wet, I could see the two rooms below me. I brought my phone down for pictures to begin with, but they were not very good, so I ended up using dad's camera instead.

The rusting, as you can see here, is very bad. The ladder is holding at the moment, but I don't think it will last much longer. 

This was the room directly behind me as I came down the stairs. I think that this is the room that had the toilet in it. If I tried to walk into the room, that water would be up to my waist.

Down the ladder to the right was a small switch that was attached to a small pipe going up the length of the entrance. I'm not sure what this could have been. The only thing that I can think of is that I could have controlled the air vents at the top of the shaft.

This was the main room to my left. You can see how bad the flooding is because the water is at the level of the desk:

All of the work would have been done in here. On the far wall are the controls to the air vents and there is a weird red box to the right containing a fire blanket.

It's hard to imagine three people living and working here for long in the event of a nuclear war. The air system wasn't filtered, so radiation would still have come in.

Volunteers of the ROC would have trained often in the bunker, planning for the three weeks there they would spend after a nuclear war. They would have had a radio, food supplies, but not much else. There's a good record of what equipment would have been in there at the ROC Heritage website, including a massive radio aerial which would have been stored in the shaft.

This is the view coming back up.

Although this is not one of the biggest or oldest places I have explored, it is definitely one of the coolest. I'm hoping to go back in the summer and go explore the bunker - even if it means that I'm going to get wet !

And if you like this one...

Fancy living in one ?

Two of the nearby ROC posts in Doune and Blackford have long been demolished. But if you want to buy one, the other nearby one at Cultybraggan is for sale now !

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