Urban explorers scale skyscrapers, jump fences, lift manhole covers – and break the law. Robert Macfarlane joins fearless urbexer Bradley Garrett on a night-time jaunt, and discovers the thrills of this illicit and dangerous pastime.
Urban exploration: a guide for the uninitiated. Urban exploration, urbex or UE is recreational trespass in the built environment. Among the requirements for participation are claustrophilia, lack of vertigo, a taste for decay, a fascination with infrastructure, a readiness to jump fences and lift manhole covers, and a familiarity with the laws of access in whatever jurisdiction you’re undertaking your explorations. Archive and web skills are useful too, for acquiring the schematics and blueprints that will inspire and orient you. Among the sites in your sights are disused factories and hospitals, former military installations, bunkers, bridges and storm-drain networks. You should be content on the counterweight of a crane 400 feet above the street, or skanking along a sewer 10 yards under the asphalt.