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Gallery 3 > Special Feature Galleries > otterburn training camp, northumberland
In May 2017 I visited an abandoned T-33 Lockheed Shooting Star airframe, on the military base that is RAF Spadeadam, on the border between Cumbria and Northumberland. This 'Urban Ghost' was a fascinating subject to see up close and also to photograph. It was a daytime recce visit, with a view to revisiting at night to attempt some astro photography. The plan came to fruition, with two night time visits that resulted in some fine star trails and milky way captures. Following on from this, my mind turned to another location where military hardware was also accesible - Otterburn Training Camp, Northumberland.
After studying the M.O.D website,I learned that Otterburn T.C was accesible on most weekends, when non-firing days were pencilled in. So off I went, armed with the main tools - a Google Map of the training base, a camera and some walking boots. Upon arrival it was all systems go as I drove past the first raised barrier, then another, and another. Despite knowing it was a non-firing day, I half expected that I wouldn't reach my final destination and that there would be at least one barrier preventing me from reaching the abandoned military tanks. I'd previously picked out an area on Google maps where 3 tanks lay idle, next to the roadside, which had a parking layby. After driving across single track roads for at least 15 minutes, I arrived at my chosen spot and was greeted by the sight of over 20 tanks!! Wow, this was very much unexpected. I was literally spoilt for choice. Where to start?
It really was a sight to behold. Military hardware, strewn all over the wasteland. I quickly left the car behind and headed over to the first tank - a Chieftan, in a sorry state and peppered from top to botton in ammunition holes. It was a mangled wreck to say the least, with its heavily sloped rusty hull and turret, which must have been at least 12 inches in thickness. Its hatch was raised, so I climbed onto the tank to take a closer inspection. Inside the hull was a sight for sore eyes, with ripped out wiring installations and the smell of decaying metal, amongst other things.
During the next hour or two I covered most of the abandoned hardware in the immediate area, photographing it as I went. There was an array of tanks, all of different sizes and designs, plus the remains of armoured vehicles, all of which are shown above. Massive bomb craters littered the area, mostly filled with water that had gathered over the passage of time - a constant reminder of the mimlitary exercises that had taken place here.
I stayed until darkness and ran off a 60 minute star trail. Clear skies and an almost full moon provided an opportunity that I couldn't resist. As it was mid-May, it wasn't dark enough to shoot until around 11.30pm, and there was barely a breeze, just warm summer air and complete silence. The fog rolled in around 1am, so I quickly headed back to the car. When I got there I looked behind me and I couldn't pick out one single tank, due to very poor visibility. Thick fog had well and truly closed down any additional photography, but the shots were alreay in the bag! Mission accomplished !
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