Once again my exploring took a bit of hiatus due to covid restrictions. But even through lockdown I was always on the look out for new places to go once I was allowed, both online and on my daily walks. On one walk I discovered the entrance to a very interesting looking culvert.
I’d known this culvert existed for a long time, but I hadn’t realised it was possible to get in there. After my success at the Tower Burn culvert in Dunfermline last year, I decided to go and check this one out. I was excited to see that the entrance was wide open and large enough to walk into. Almost as soon as lockdown was over, I was back with my wellies to see what lay inside.
The culvert takes a burn underneath some housing schemes. Over a mile of the burn was culverted around the late 1960s for safety reasons, after two boys drowned in it when it was in spate. Over a mile of the nearby canal was culverted too, but while the canal was later de-culverted and now runs on the surface again, the burn remains hidden underground.
The construction took the form of a concrete box culvert. It was quite spacious, nearly tall enough for me to fully stand up in, with only an inch or two of water. From what I’ve read I suspect that there might be some older culvert further in, or maybe even a forgotten bridge or two incorporated into the structure, but I didn’t get far enough to see any of that. I may go back later and venture further inside.
It’s very hard to tell how far you’ve walked underground, since GPS doesn’t work and there are no obvious points of reference. It felt as if I went quite a long way, but in reality it was probably only a few hundred yards at most. There were several long straights with corners in between. Occasionally a smaller watercourse would join the main burn through an opening in one of the walls, though none of these were big enough to get into. Considering the location and how easy I’d found it to get in, I was surprised that there was no graffiti whatsoever on the concrete walls. I guess the presence of the water puts a lot of people off from going inside.
There was quite an atmosphere in there. By the time I’d rounded a few corners, the only sound was the roar of the water surging along the floor, louder than I expected due to the confined space, and without my torch it was absolutely pitch black. (I’m always careful to bring at least two backup torches with me when I’m going underground, but on this occasion I discovered afterwards that both of their batteries had run out! It wouldn’t have been the end of the world since I still could have used my phone torch, or even felt my way out along the wall if that failed as well, but I’m glad it didn’t come to that! I was careful to make sure they were all fully charged after that).
After emerging blinking back into the daylight, I decided to follow the burn upstream a little way and see where it went. I found a very tumbledown looking old footbridge that must have once gone somewhere, but now lost in a sort of no-man’s-land with the canal on one side, a new road on the other and office blocks at the end.