A Shortish Guide to Urban Exploring in the United Kingdom

I have been meaning to write this for some time and the details forthcoming are based on my own experiences, which compared to some are not so extensive.

A few HIVE commenters have expressed an interest, and I for one would love to see some more content within the HIVE Urban Exploration community which is here.

I will support and upvote good content with votes and re-hives, and will consider giving out @curie votes for anything good I see posted.


...'seeing creepy images like this in the flesh, er stone.., geneuinly gives you a thrill, it's up to you if you want to continue and try and extend the adventure'...

There are more detailed and better guides than the one I will present to you which will be pinned to the Urban Exploration Community, and I have to emphasise that other countries have different attitudes and laws about civil trespass.


This guide is SHORT, there is a LOT more to it than what you read, and a full book would be required to spill my brains on all the little tips I have picked up.


Dealing with Busybodies

Urban Exploration constitutes civil trespass, it is NOT a criminal act so long as you don't break-in, or break anything while trying to access a building or location.

If you do get inside, then DON'T steal or take anything, no matter how minor it appears to be. We are there for the photography and to take in the atmosphere (and toxic fumes sometimes).

If you are challenged by a member of the public (ie.. a busybody), then ask busybody if they are the owner of the property or security. If not, then I personally would continue with the explore.


...'in the event of a crazy bastard approaching you demanding you 'get off their fucking land', then use common sense, pick up your skirts and run'...

In the event of busybody creating a scene, then explain civilly what you are doing and your intent, don't be rude or arrogant. In most cases, you can win them over and they will bugger off back to their mundane boring lives to spy on some other unsuspecting passers-by.

Occasionally they may threaten to call the police. That is their choice. Whether PC Plod and his pals turn up is inconsequential. You will have probably finished your explore and are gone by the time they arrive, that's if they can be bothered.


...'if you are a true Urban Explorer, the cops will know. They have in-built sensors and can smell lies. You don't have to explain civil trespass to them, they already know and the worst that can happen is them telling you to leave'...

Generally, Plod are little concerned with Urban Explorers, and if they do turn up, they will simply ask you to leave. You have to obey Plod or the cuffs will come out.

I have done well over 130 explores now, have NEVER had an encounter with the Police and have always managed to turn the conversation with busybodies in my favour.


Stealth and Silence

This is one of the reasons why I do it, you have to be a sneaky bastard and make as little noise as possible. It's best to try and not alert the local busybodies if possible.

...'being a sneaky spy creates tension, and heightens your adrenaline'...

If your target is truly urban and in a town then it can be particularly tough. Scout out the building, walk around the perimeter and check for weaknesses.

Better still, do the scouting before you leave, using google maps or google earth as much as possible.


...this 8-feet wall would have been tough to climb without that portable urinal placed down there. Avoiding the piss I managed to scale this wall'...

Urban Explorers are a considerate lot and leave behind many ways to climb or crawl through a window or hole.

I see upright pallets, ropes, ladders, and piles of dodgy looking bricks often used to get in places, and after doing a few the tell-tale signs are often apparent.

Is the grass squashed down, is there a rabbit path? All signs that other explores have trodden the path before you.


The Buzz Factor

The sights you see make this one of the most fun things to do. By balancing on the edge of the law, it's exciting and you get a great buzz, especially if you can infiltrate a building unseen.

There is always that fear in the back of your mind, as you consciously feel you are doing something illegal, but to counter this, you can tell yourself that you are technically not.


...'oh the joys of walking through massive nettle patches, you simply cant beat the experience'...

It's like being a kid again. Traipsing through long grass, over battle-torn land, with obstacles getting in your way takes you back to your teenage and prior days.

You remember what it was like when you are eleven or twelve years old. That’s a powerful emotional feeling, trust me!


The Photography and History

What you see in places left and forgotten can be amazing. Sometimes it’s a disappointment but there’s always something in each and every one of them that will stay in your mind.

Look for angles and steady your shot before taking anything.


...'hoarding is more commonplace than it seems. Sights like these I see very often and if you like to rummage....'

I don’t see myself as a great photographer but I’m learning all the time. Focus on the details, and look for items of personal use.

I love things with dates, old tins of food that trigger memories from years gone by, and handwritten notes.


Get Fit

It’s not an easy hobby, I’m more fat than fit and after a full day, I’m more fit to drop.

Climbing is something you took for granted when you were a kid, its hard work now and lifting your body weight with your arms can be a disappointing experience when you first try it.


...'getting over this spiky bollocks-piercing fence may be possible, but spending the rest of my life in there is going a touch far. Sometimes you need to weigh up worth vs reward'...

I can just about manage it now, but I feel losing 6 or 7 pounds would make things easier.

There is no doubt its great exercise, and a full day will net you over 15,000 steps.

Many places are walk-in’s so don’t feel you need to be super-fit to do it. If you can’t climb, more places will be off-limits to you.



Scotland is the Mecca, there are not even any trespass laws in the frozen lands to the north. If you are sure it's empty and derelict, then jump in without fear.



Before setting out, make sure your target is derelict. If it's not then don't go.

Use the internet to track locations down. Facebook and it's many groups and pages are good places to check.


...'Google Earth is great for doing virtual flyovers. Use it extensively before setting out and potentially wasting your time'...

Don't ask for locations or you will get slammed down by whole communities. Do your own research, it's not hard and many other bloggers, GoonTubers.. er YouTubers, and article writers give away lots of information.

I like the GoonTubers, honest!


Why So Secretive?

For a very good reason. There are true Urban Explorers, and then there are mindless vandals.

Keeping the vandals away is what we desire. I condone this abhorrent behavior and it gives the true people and community a bad name.

I generally don’t give out information on access points and locations I feel should not be shared.

If its Camelot (which is now being demolished), then I will say its Camelot. Everyone knows where it is and I don’t feel the need to withhold a location such as this.


...'don't go to Camelot, you have missed the boat. It's being demolished'...

As I'm now well over 1000 words, I will leave it as is. Look around, search the internet and you will find locations in your area.

Go out and be a big kid again, and get some adventure in your life. Once the bug bites, you will find it hard to resist.


Some Websites that I get locations from:


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