St. Lawrence Tunnel

Retro post from : Summer 2011

Most years we make it across to the Isle of Wight at least once. On this visit the busy agenda included a quick pop to Osborne House, some geocaching, climbing some hills, some dinosaur fossil hunting on the beach, and catching up with a great friend for several hours … oh and little bit of family friendly exploring!

I’d seen a little report on this tunnel from an exploring friend, and checked about its location and family suitability. We rocked up torches in hand, quickly found the tunnel and were in. Five seconds later son#3 (then aged almost 7) said “Dad, I’m scared”. Another five seconds later son#2 (then aged 12) said “Dad, I’m a bit scared too”. Hence Mrs ® Andy, kindly offered to take them out again whilst son#1 (then aged 13) and I took a look. Her offer did of course come with the condition “but don’t be too long!”

StLawrence-05It’s a nice old tunnel … a little longer than I’d expected at over 0.5km with an incline and curve to the right from the bottom portal. It was used for mushroom farming after the line closed in 1952 before being abandoned more recently. Hence it’s full of polythene tenting of various types along most of its length with more complete/newer equipment towards the top end where ultimately it’s blocked with some mad max style fencing a little way from the top portal.

StLawrence-11We walked the length and in the middle, where the curve ensures no light from the portal makes it, son#1 got to experience the curiously fun sensory deprivation that is an environment without a photon of light. I took a few pictures on the way back, and of course in typical exploring fashion we’d totally lost track of time which is why it was no surprise as we approached the bottom portal I heard Mrs ® Andy’s voice calling in to the tunnel to chivy us along!