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Monday, 7 January 2013

North and South Casemates, Western Heights, Dover - January 2013

Welcome to my first explore of 2013! To mark such an occasion I teamed up with Giacomo to attempt a site that we both failed at way back in June, when we went for quite some walk and missed the site by about 200-300m, annoyingly. 




Some history:

During a new fear of invasion from Napoleon III two new dry moats where added to the existing citadel defences. The northern and the southern moat both had their own casemates built. Between these there was also a defensive caponier built, but sadly this was filled in during the 1960's by the Dover Corporation and they gradually destroyed many parts of the Western Heights. The northern casemates are a lot larger than the southern casemates, with six separate rooms whereas the southern casemates had eight.



The day's explore began with Giacomo showing up to Dover late, and then heading up hill to Western Heights. Once at the top we made our way along the North of the Citidel, past currently sealed tempters such as Detached Bastion and the North Centre. Once when we got to our destination access was actually surprisingly easy, and we made our way in.



We made our way down to the bottom floor of the South Casemates, and began with the photos. The Casemates themselves aren't exactly in the greatest of condition. The floors of the upper level are long since removed, creating artificially large chambers. I found the stairs to be particularly photogenic. 


Giacomo and I both agreed that the lighting was amazing, it did a lot of the work for us. Unfortunately about four photos in my camera battery decided to go to one bar left, so I had to be careful and balance getting the right shots with not using the battery up. 


 After a search for my remote for some time (it was roughly where I started searching for it), we did a couple of people shots involving the window then went to make our way to the North Casemates. 




Here began the true test of the explore - the North and South Casemates used to linked by two Caponiers inbetween, which were filled in. Now the only way to get through is by crawling for 30m, the 'highlight' of which is an eight foot long pipe, which has about a ten inch diameter. When we got to that point it was literally a case of coat off, and genuinely wondering if we would get through. I managed to get through eventually, and then, leaving Giacomo the other side with all of our gear, went to the end of the tunnel (which got ridiculously low again) to make sure that we could get out and that it was worth it. 


We could and it was, so after getting all of the gear through as well as Giacomo, we made our way up to the North Casemates, breathing heavily having exerted a lot of energy for 30 meters. 
Also, check out two of the only bits of graffiti to make it into the North side - MUFC and Stretford End. Giacomo was not happy. 


The North Casemates were similar to the South, although smaller and had a few different features. Below shows some original iron railings coming from the wall from the Casemate's original days.



We ventured outside at this point, partly to get photos, partly to see if there was an alternative method to getting out, as I was under the impression that it was not possible from the North side. 


The North side was also missing its floors on the upper level. 


Well, apart from this bit around the corner. 


The staircase leads to a sealed wooden door, and some very slippery steps at the top. 


No, we didn't use it.


Tried messing around with some light-painting but the composure sucked. 


We did a people shot, then another when Giacomo said he'd be blocking the light to my face in the first one, then got our stuff together and made our way out. 



It was nice to get the Casemates done are getting so close last time when I basically guess the way towards them without actually doing any decent research. What I liked about this explore too was that it got me back out quickly after doing Pyestock last week. Before then I hadn't done a proper explore (not one worthy of reporting at least) in over six weeks, which I put down getting a bit tired of solo exploring and probably having to cycle a lot of these places! But yes, all in all a cracking little explore with a very strenuous crawl. 

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