The great Royal Observation Corps post hunt of 2008 had been long talked about and oft postponed but eventually happened on Saturday the 4th of May. In fact just a few days before it had been cancelled due to the commitments of one of the group. I got a vague message on Friday night that it might be back on and came home on Saturday to a message from Knelf that we were going in the next hour! So Fire, Rob and me congregated round Knelf’s place and got the GPS co-ordinates of some likely looking sites and off we went.
The first place we ended up was Spondon and we headed off for a lovely walk in the wrong direction before working out that we could actually go through the menacing looking gates as long as we left our cars behind! Eventually found our post at the top of a hill behind some trees. The post wasn’t locked but unfortunately was quite flooded. No one fancied wading so just snapped a few pics and headed off. Cue a quick stop for Jonny to fly his micro kite in an attempt to blend in!
The Post is actually at the top of this hill.
Unfortunately this one is completely flooded so we couldn’t get down.
After the slight disappointment of Spondon we carried on to Ambergate. This post was much more exposed with houses nearby on one side and a farm on another. The lid was held shut with a couple of rocks so it was a quick job to get them off, open the hatch and head down. Predictably the post itself was in pretty bad shape. Very little of the original equipment and fittings remained. At some point recently it had been set on fire, you could still smell the smoke. Still, there was enough left to get a good idea of what it would be like to spend time down there. With the hatch closed it was very dark and isolated.
We paused outside for a few group shots, more relaxed now that we had managed to get inside our first post of the day. Then it was off towards Matlock for the third.
The only way in and out is via this ladder.
You can see the evidence of fire and other vandalism but a lot of the original fittings remain.
There also were bunks for 2 and a generator down here when the posts were operational.
This sign warns you not to bash yourself on the lid counterweight which makes the already narrow shaft harder to climb, especially with a backpack!
Exiting and trying not to fall unceremoniously out of the hatch.
The surroundings of this post, from the road and even walking past you’d never know it was there. I wonder how many people living in these houses know what it is.
After that, it was on to Brassington. It was starting to get late in the day now and this one took a bit of walking to get to. We first drove right by it (although we did not know it) but were unable to find anywhere to park. So we had to double back and park by a public footpath. So we had a nice walk for a mile or so along the High Peak/Tissington Trail before we found ourselves in a field somewhere in the vicinity of the post.
Then came the dilemma of whether to climb the barbed wire and drystone wall or to find another way round. Jonny opted for the first option while the rest of us waited to see what he would find. After about ten minutes Jonny returned to berate us for not climbing over the wall and to report that he had found ….nothing!
There was nothing for it but for the rest of us to go over the wall (very carefully so as not to damage it) and see what we could find. The answer was an air observation post and a locked ROC hatch. Oh, and the remains of a log dead sheep.
This is the road we drove along. The ROC post is on the right but there is nowhere to park, hence our scenic walk.
This is an observation tower associated with the post but we can’t find the actual post yet.
Rolling hills and grazing sheep surround this post.
Closer to the observation tower but we’ve come to see underground bits.
These stairs are so steep we had to climb them like ladders.
Reservoir in the distance.
The underground part of this post is in this picture. You can just make it out, surrounded by a wire fence just to the left of middle. This one is actually securely shut so might be nicely preserved inside, since we have no intention of breaking in we just have to speculate on what it is like.
Sheep remains near the observation tower.
It is starting to get late.
We thought that we were pretty much done now and started to head home. There was still one more post on our list though. It was in Cotgrave and that is practically on the way home! So, for the last post of the day we ended up wandering through the rape fields of Cotgrave in the worsening light looking for the last post. We eventually found it in a small copse in the hedgerow between 2 bright yellow fields. At least we didn’t have to wade through the rape to get to it.
The hatch had been poorly tied down with some heavy duty chain which made it hard to get in but actually easier to get out. I stayed above ground on this one and got some good shots of the guys making their way in and out.
We have to walk along this field of rapeseed to get to this one.
It is hidden in the middle of a copse of trees, many of them flowering like this.
You have to push through the trees for a bit to get to the entrance hatch.
This hatch was once secured with a large chain but some previous visitor has actually detached the hatch at the hinges and swung it out of the way making the chains useless.
And that was that, the end of a successful, and somewhat unexpected day of searching for nuclear observation posts.