This week I have come across a new hobby I would like to try called Urban Exploration. Urban Exploration, or Urbex for short, is the exploration of man made structures. These can be any type of structure, but most explorations take place in abandoned or derelict buildings such as hospitals, theaters or mansions, abandoned leisure sites such as theme parks, industrial sites, military sites, drains, underground sites and sites up high such as cranes or tall buildings.
Urban exploration is a very geeky pastime, with explorers taking pride in the amount of time they spend researching a site before they go, learning about what it was before it was abandoned, and scouting the location for security patterns and access points. Because of the amount of time and effort explorers will put into a prospective site, you’ll be hard pushed to find someone writing up a report giving you details of exactly how to get in. If you want to take up this hobby you will have to be prepared to put some effort in yourself. While general tips and advice are generously offered, a lot of the experience must be planned for by yourself. Of course it would be ill advised to publicise your access points anyway, as this can easily be seen by security or site owners looking for where the gaps in their fences are and stop any future access…..
Here are some examples of photographs taken by urban explorers at various sites;
The main rule of urban exploration is to ‘leave only footprints, take only pictures’. It is important to explorers to preserve the sites they visit for the next person, and most take an interest in the locations history, wanting only to document the site for future generations.
Urban exploration does come with some dangers however, as many derelict sites can be hazardous to navigate, and private property will often have security on site to protect it. Despite explorers making a conscious effort to not cause damage, their presence on private land will often not be welcomed, and if caught by security you will most likely be asked to leave. Although trespass is a civil offence and not a criminal one, it is important to take care and ensure you are clear that you are not there to cause damage to property or steal, or you could risk having to defend yourself to the police.
If you are interested in Urban Exploration I advise you to read this fantastic FAQ which covers all the basics for this wonderful hobby.
There are a number of sites you can use for information on urban exploration and forums where you can publish reports and photographs you have taken.
28DaysLater – A forum dedicated to urban exploration where people can share their experiences, reports and photographs
UK Urbex – Another urban exploration forum
The Urban Explorer – Blog by Adam Montague of the sites he has explored, mostly in the South of England
Contamination Zone – An urban exploration site by Elle Dunn that focuses on the art of photography at abandoned sites
Subterranea Britannica – A site where members post visit reports with photographs and in depth site knowledge and history
Whatever’s Left – Another site documenting visits to various sites by an urban explorer since 2006
And don’t worry if you come across the Owlman. A recent prank involved the Owlman waiting for unsuspecting Urban Explorers at an abandoned hospital, and you can watch their reactions here;
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