Urban Exploration – What lurks in the shadows?

We’ve all, well most of us anyway, had our own experiences relating to urban exploration which is the exploration of abandoned or derelict buildings, structures and facilities in an urban envir

We’ve all, well most of us anyway, had our own experiences relating to urban exploration which is the exploration of abandoned or derelict buildings, structures and facilities in an urban environment. Though some people’s experiences may be from more rural areas it’s a similar exposure to an architect’s nightmare: Decayed structures and buildings.

Urban Exploration

What lurks inside?

I remember an eventful day, years ago when Freddo’s were still 10p, I was visiting a friend (We both lived in the countryside) and our curious mischievous selves decided it would be a good idea to look in this old abandoned farm house that was just up the road.

A short five minute walk down a recently tarred, yet very mucky, lane we came across it in it’s not-so-healthy looking state. All the windows were boarded up, the front door broken off and rotting on the floor, and many of the  moss covered slates were absent from the roof. Despite the poor condition of the house we ventured inside with nothing more than weak torches and an intense mix of excitement and anxiety. After carefully treading through the initial room, which was a long ago burnt down kitchen, we came across creaky-wooden steps that lead to the rest of the old musty place.

The rooms were almost pitch black, the paint was peeling off the walls and the whole place felt like something out of a horror film. We didn’t stay in there much longer but did have a quick look around a couple of stripped out rooms before vacating. It was an interesting and unique experience, that probably helped influence my current devotion to urban exploration. Though later on we would be on the receiving end of artillery fueled parents, whom at the time seemed as if they would probably have been less upset with us if we had robbed a bank.

Urban Exploration

Grey buildings? Must be in Aberdeen, Scotland!

Exploring abandoned buildings and facilities didn’t become a firm interest until the moderately dull summer of 2010. It wasn’t until after a friend asked to stay the night so he could go to this old factory in Aberdeen, which as I understood it, was a photographer’s gold mine.
Though I shared some interest in photography it wasn’t nearly as profound or devoted as my friend’s own interest; but the idea of exploring this ‘abandoned factory’ certainly peaked my interest in accompanying him. Unfortunately due to some bizarre reason or other, that escapes me, we didn’t end up going to the old factory that day. However my interest had grown greatly after some online research into urban exploration and I began planning my own expedition there with a few of my similarly intrigued friends.

A couple of weeks and a powerful yet lightweight torch purchase later, we were on our way to explore some abandoned buildings. 
We began by going to this old factory in the centre of Aberdeen.
The first things I noticed after getting there was that the grounds were enormous and it was bloody dark! There were no nearby streetlights in most areas so it was a case of exploring by moonlight or torchlight. The main complex was composed of dozens of buildings; some of which were up to five stories high and as long as a football pitch. It was daunting at first, where would we start? What if someone else was here?

Exploring a large abandoned place for the first time was certainly thrilling and full of wonder and due to it being so dark when we visited, quite the creepy atmosphere too. There were literally hundreds of dark, cold, and musty rooms. Many of which were cluttered with various things the previous owners had just abandoned just like the buildings themselves had been.

Some of the things carelessly left to decay included: Rolls of coloured fabrics, furniture, hundreds of damp files and even an old broken wheelchair. Some rooms were so large that our torches, which were pretty powerful for their size, only gave us a small impression of what was on the other end. It was a place of mystery and interest. Why was there so much stuff left here? Did they leave in a hurry? What will happen to this site in the future? Where some of the questions that ran through my head as we pressed further into the dark ancient complex.

Urban Exploration

A look into one of the larger rooms on the bottom floor of an old warehouse

Occasional noises from residing birds or the just the wind gets the heart pounding and the adrenaline going, but you soon get used to it. Depending on the group you are with, the experience can sometimes be like something out of ‘Most Haunted’ or similar, quite frankly ridiculous, shows.
”What was that?” “We definitely should not go up there… it’s a bad idea! ” “I gotta bad feeling about being here.” “Did you hear that? Someone’s here!” are all phrases trembling group members have muttered anxiously in my previous expeditions.  

We were not there to hunt any supernatural or paranormal entities… we were there to explore! So on we continued to trek provided it’s safe to do so…

Unfortunately not everyone who visits places like this is lucky enough to contain the same levels of interest and curiosity. Some people seem to have poorer values and have no respect for other’s property and see locations like this for just one thing: A playground for destruction.
Despite there being probably significantly over a hundred windows, I doubt there is probably even a dozen left that haven’t been partially or totally broken by these ruthless vandals…

The path of destruction left by the vandals and that by the forces of nature does mean explorers need to proceed with a high level of caution and take special care when exploring these abandoned buildings. They can often be laden with minefields of glass and over time wooden floors and structures can rot from moisture damage for example. If anything looks too risky or is potentially dangerous… Do not risk it! Sure that room at the end of the corridor partially missing floor or the mystery at the top of the rusty ladder may look inviting but is it worth risking a broken leg over? Absolutely not.
Despite the potential dangers, as long as you stick to the less suspicious areas there is much excitement and thrills to be generated out of exploring these old places. To see what stories these buildings and their contents tell by their previous inhabitants; to see the toll Nature has on buildings long forgotten by man; to boldly go where people no longer goɉ۬

Urban Exploration

An abandoned School in Aberdeen, Scotland which is being demolished to make way for a new aquatics centre.

There are many different online networks and forums available to urban explorers who want to get into the hobby and want to find others who also share their interests in exploring. Or for those who just want to see what it is like in these old forgotten places; there are hundreds of sites dedicated to urban exploration photography.
There are many fantastic websites out there for either of the above, some feature some truly outstanding photography of derelict sites all over Britain.

If you do decide to take up urban exploring please do so with caution and be well prepared! Research what you’ll need, the place you want to explore and be sure to go in a group and not on your own. Start off by looking up a guide such as this one: Here

Did you ever explore nearby abandoned places when you were younger? Share your experiences in the comments section below!