on site

O n   S i t e .

So, you've got to where you want to be, parked the car somewhere inconspicuous, now to find a way in!

As mentioned in "Preparation & Research", the main thing with finding ways into places is OBSERVATION. Sometimes, the way into places is quite obvious. Other times it will take a bit of time to find it. DON'T RUSH! I know it's all very exciting, but once you have established a good way in, you can always come back and find it a whole lot more easily next time round.

Note to self: Looks too clean? Then it is usually down to remarkably "on-the-ball" security. In places like this, it is worth having a "Gopher", that is someone who can go up to the security cabin and ask them if they can take photos outside and ask them questions, while a group of bods sneak in round the back! I wish we'd tried this, but it would usually end up being me...

ABOVE: Sometimes we had almost unbelievable luck! All we had to do here was move the barrier a little for some of the less athletic among us to squeeze through. This type of fence can be pushed over very easily but makes a hell of a noise to do so. In some places we have encountered, the bases have had concrete poured over them to negate the removal of the fence panels. 


Okay, so you've gotten into the grounds and you can have a look around the outsides of the buildings.

The first things to try are what might be obvious ways in: sash windows and doors. Very occasionally they might be unlocked or unsecured. The next thing to look out for would be cellars and steps down to service tunnels or basements (BELOW). In larger institutes, the boiler rooms lead to extensive tunnels, from which the majority of a site can be got to with far less chance of detection.

Boiler rooms can often be a jackpot, leading to service tunnels under the bulk of a site (As seen BELOW). Security aren't keen on tunnels: dark, full of obstacles and riddled with asbestos. This is where a Martindale face mask comes in handy. (See "Clothes & Equipment")



Sometimes,  the ways in are not at all obvious, so we need to get creative. Some Urbex afficionados advocate using tools to get into places, but this is very destructive, is highly illegal if you get caught and we do not advocate this style of entry at all! Whenever our team goes to look around a place, we endeavour to leave everything as it was before we came. If things are moved, they are put back exactly as we found them and if we cannot find a way in somewhere without the need to break in, it is left well alone. This requires a bit more work looking for ways in, but we would rather that than cause any kind of damage.


ABOVE: Sometimes there will be no visible way in on the ground floor or through subterranian means. Sometimes more luck can be had on the first floor, so fire escapes are the next thing to look for. However - tread carefully! If there are bits missing then it's probable that they are rusting and unsafe: again observation and caution are paramount here. 


Another handy thing to look out for is rotting or damp wooden boards: they tend to be very susceptable to the elements and also break down quite quickly, leaving them unsound and easily moved where possible.

ABOVE LEFT & RIGHT: Sometimes exterior walkways are clad with plywood panels, which tend to go soft with age and weather. If I were a naughty person, I would leaver one up, then push one of the inside ones in, allowing me to get into the walkway whilst leaving the way in totally invisible unless viewed from up close. However, it would be very bad for me to suggest such a thing. Yes indeedy.


Things to watch

out for Inside.

Once inside a building, it is a lot harder for anyone to spot you and there are many more places to hide! There are a few things to watch out for, though, which will give security an edge over unwitting explorers.

Some of the places we have been into are riddled with cameras outside, which are bad enough to dodge, but some have cameras outside that point in! This is especially evil, as once on camera, you will have to run and hide somewhere PDQ. Other things to watch out for are PIR sensors, which are in use in a lot of places, are less easy to spot and can alert any security present of your presence and (if you're really unlucky and trip more than one) which way you are heading. PIR (Passive Infra Red) sensors are usually used to trigger cameras or alarms, but they can be any distance away and usually in a security hut...

They are usually positioned in the corner of a room, facing a doorway. Sometimes we have spotted them covering open spaces like courtyards, but they are easier to spot outside against brickwork.



One of the main causes of injury in Urbex circles is caused by falling through floors. There are a number of ways that make sure this doesn't happen to you.

1. Head upstairs: Most large buildings such as Hospitals and Lunatic Asylums we have seen, believe it or not, have wooden floors on the ground floor and quite substantial concrete flooring on the upper levels.

2. Stick by the walls: a bit of clever science here. Do you remember in Physics classes when the teacher showed you about Levers? If you were a right little swat like me then you will remember how they worked. If you wanted to move - say - a big rock with a bit of wood, it would be far easier to use a long bit of wood than a short piece.  This is because the further away from the rock, the greater effect of a person lifting the plank up and the easier it is to move the rock.

Now then! This is the clever bit! If we applied that in the opposite direction, it will help us not to fall through floors. How? Well - the weight of a person will have less effect closer to the rock than it will further up the plank - at the end. So, if the plank were part of a floor, you would have less chance of moving close to a wall than you would standing in the middle of the floor. Clever, eh?

3. Dont stand on the edge: If you do find an area of floor that has bloody great holes in (or no floor at all, for that matter), don't go for a closer look! The edges might fall in too and a long way down suddenly becomes a long way up.

BELOW LEFT: This would be the end of the road as far as I'm concerned - the floor is shot.

BELOW RIGHT: This floor, whilst damaged, is still negotiable with care. I would stay as close to the left hand edge as possible. This photo shows 2 different types of damage to the floor: in the foreground, a floorboard has been taken up, doubtless in the search for valuable copper cable. On the right, the damage looks more consistent with water damage or falling masonry at some stage. In the middle, some previous explorers have placed felled doors over gaps. These can often be vey helpful, but can also be weakened themselves, so tread with care. The doorway in the distance is where the photo on the left is taken from.


4. Shouting causes Avalanches: A lot of the places we went to have walkways covered by a wooden roof that has subsequently rotted and as a result is about to fall in some time in the near future. Tiptoe under them, don't shout around them and certainly don't poke them to see if they'll stay up!


5. Read the Walls: Most of these abandoned buildings will end up either demolished or redeveloped. In order to do either, they need to be surveyed. In the case of redevelopment this goes without saying, in the case of demolition, it is to keep the operatives safe. Surveyors usually leave "triangulation marks" accompanied by small studs in triangles sprayed on floors in order to determine movement wihin a structure. If you spot these, or writing on any walls (as in the photo ABOVE LEFT - T5), chances are that someone has had to make their way through in relative safety to make those marks in the first place.

You may often see "SAFE ROUTE" sprayed on walls, indicating a route to be taken by contractors or security staff, or by previous groups of Urbexers, of course!

6. Watch for Windows: Windows are not always your friends. Okay, you can get in through them sometimes, they are handy for seeing what you are photographing, but you can also be very easily seen standing in front of them by any security personnel. It is advisable to stay well back in the room if you need to look out of a window overlooking a courtyard or large open area, and look out from one side of the window obliquely, so more difficult to spot. If you think security are around, try to duck under the windows if you can, again maintaining a good distance away from them into the room.