Having grown up in the region in which the rusting theme park sits I had first had experience of it in it’s former energetic glory. School trips every year to ride on “Excalibur 2” and “Knightmare”, to have banquets, cheers on a jousting contest and exploring the medieval past in an exciting and thrilling park. However as the years went on and other UK theme parks grew as well as more and more of us heading over to the giants of Orlando, Camelot struggled to keep up.
The park faded into the background of the new rides of Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and budget trips to the US. When others were investing in new and state of the art rides Camelot’s owners lacked the interest or investment to build bigger and better. Knightmare, the rollercoaster which still towers over the area and can be see from the passing motorway, remained the largest and most exhilarating ride for over 5 years.
So, on to the visit! After almost forgetting about it’s rotten existence deep in the overgrown forest of Chorley a number of new articles started popping up documenting it’s current state. It seemed that for a time the security paid to keep the site safe had either been removed or become woefully lax after the sale of many rides and attractions.
A freind who was new to Urbex had seen the park from the motorway and knew we would be the ones to ask! It’s nice knowing we are the ones to call when adventure is on the cards (Just like the previous weekend in the Lake District!)
Getting in was as easier as it ever could be, after climbing up the side of buildings, abseiling down riverbanks and traversing across rotten bridges to get into places this was a walk in! But with openness comes company, from all angles we could hear the sound of glass crunching under foot, often you never know what type of person you might come across in these abandoned places.
As we scurried around the site trying to keep a low profile we came face to face with some older looking people inside one of the food tents. Initially they appeared not to be your typical explorers and we wondered if we had been rumbled, instead they warned us of a car patrolling the grounds as we cautiously moved on.
One of the first items which really caught our attention was the old Dragon Flyer ride, we all remembered the trips around the circumference of the park on this tame but unique mini rollercoaster. One of the only diesel powered rollercoasters in the world it was strange to see it rusting and overgrown. Following the tracks deep into the undergrowth of the forest the ground below dropped steeply!
After exploring many of the other buildings and tents, wondering what each was for and recalling how sad it was that this place with so many happy memories was rotting in such a way we turned our attentions to the main prize…the huge rollercoaster! Not many of the rides still stand in this park having been sold off, but ironically this multi-million pound coaster is still the main attraction!
As we worked our way closer we had to dive behind a set of false dry stone walls to avoid the security car. We glanced over to the rollercoaster to see two fellow explorers perched on top of it’s 80ft peak as the car in questions screeched to a halt below! At this point we wondered whether our aim of scaling it for ourselves was over!
But as we edged closer and we saw the two explorers being escorted off the premises we knew this was our time to strike, whilst the guards were distracted and busy with other matters. Stepping onto the rusting stairway the nerves and excitement began to build, we quickly gain half way height and hid behind an emergency platform. From here on in there was nowhere else to hide!
Looking down we realised just how high we was, the metal of the rollercoaster creaked and cracked as it expanded with the heat of the day. Something usually covered by the screams and shouts of happy park goers, for us every little noise broke the eerie silence yet again! Gone is the medieval sound track and whooping teenagers, instead the noise of gradual dereliction, crunching glass and the overtaking wildlife.
Now we rose to the highest point on the ride, towering 80ft high we could see for miles. Gone was the protective tangle of metal and cables, here we were exposed! The wind whistled through the aging park and whipped around us as we teetered on the edge of the rides highest drop.
As we heard the security vehicle returning back to the park in the distance we decided it was time to count ourselves lucky and make a quick exit to reflect on a eerie but exhilarating exploration. There is just something about an abandoned theme park which, alongside hospital, schools and asylums are both terrifying and yet irresistible to the explorer!
For us exploring our hometown/ region through alternative means is a way for us to experience some of that sense of discovery we get when we travel. It’s all part of the same desire to see things differently for us and you know…to be renegades!
Have you ever done any urban exploration, or what do you do when you aren’t travelling to satisfy your adventurous side?
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