I thought at first that the huge tire tracks were from machines that had come in to cut wood, but it turned out that actually, they had come in to clear the paths. There were a LOT of fallen trees: so many have come down this year. Fierce storms....
Fortunately most of the trees fallen across the paths had been cleared by the Heroic Monster Machines of the Duke of Cornwall (for these are his woods). But there were a few left that we had to leap. Brythen leaped the trees with no reservations, but I had to encourage Rosie.
And here is the Excelsior Tunnel! In 1877, someone thought it would be a good idea to join up the Kit Hill North Engine shaft, which goes down through the tall hill to the south of this wood rather like a 112fathom core through an apple, with a tunnel that would go straight into the bottom of the hill. Unfortunately, it turned out that Kit Hill sticks up like that because it's made of seriously tough stone. The original tunnellers gave up in 1885. Several other companies gave it a go after that, but none of them managed to join the level tunnel to the shaft, although by 1938 they had got it to be a respectable 730 meters long.
Then it had a brief career with the Atomic Energy Authority, who wanted to know if explosions in a tunnel under a hill would be easy to detect (ie can we be sure what other countries have got nuclear weapons because we'd see the bangs? Or might we not see the explosions if they were underground?)
Here is the entrance. Quite a lot of water was running out of it while we were there. I was interested to see how bashed about the gate had become compared to this photo from 1999. It looks like someone has piled rocks in front of it to prevent people breaking in, too. Or to prevent something from breaking out, of course. And now I begin to wonder exactly what it was that knocked all the trees down...
There's a fairly well-preserved building to the right of the entrance, which you can see below. Well, under all the moss it looked fairly well preserved, anyway.
No bluebells here either, but I liked the lighting.