Colossus of the south. A major storm and drain network located in Brighton which is built on two levels. The main and older section above containing the sewers and storm relief’s. The lower level being a 3km storage tunnel buried more then 100ft beneath Brighton’s coast. The two networks are linked together via a “Glory hole”, a monster plughole known as “Eddies Vortex” which drops the flow down into the storage tunnel.
One night we were thinking, Lower cots has almost five plugholes yet we had only seen one of the systems above. So what was at the top of the others?, and could we get to the via rope?. This fleeting idea quickly turned into, “hey as were here, why don’t we just abseil down the Cots vortex?”. The idea seemed crazy enough to work, so we set a date and ventured forth to Brighton.
Today was the day. Myself, Dsankt, JD, Loops, Littleelvis and Alias were kitting up near our entrance. The weather was perfect, so no need to worry about rain and floods. We headed over to our entrance, popped the manhole and down we went into the moist underbelly of Brighton.
Now i am not a “climber”. I have never abseiled before in my life, apart from a brief hour lesson on a rock climbing wall at school. Even that was no more then 15 ft high, with three people basically doing all the work for me. I was hoping to get some kind of practice before the main event but we decided to adhere to a “learn on the job” style.
After a brief look around we headed towards our main target, and after 40 minutes or so of discussing future plans we arrived to, well a vertical sh**storm. Although the water flowing from the top was minimal, when it hit a small piece of overhanging rust it sprayed everywhere, causing a mighty cascade of water. Serious doubt started to form.
We climbed up above the plughole to a small metal platform, from here we assessed our options and decided, hell why not its just a little bit of water. Master craftsman Dsankt began setting up the first rope, but due to it being short of reaching the bottom we had to use the backup rope too. Once the ropes were attached i was given a crash course in abseiling. “pull this level to go down, let go to stop, simple!”. Dsankt was first to go. Climbing up and over the railings and after a quick double check pushed off.
The descent was to be undertaken in two parts. The first from the platform to the lip of the vortex where we would transfer to the longer rope and descent further down the plughole. It was now my turn to go and i was nervous. My blood was pumping through my system so fast my fingers were throbbing. A final check of the gear and i climbed over the barrier. This was it, with my heart in my mouth i could taste its meaty freshness. I pulled at the level and began descending into the black abyss.
Woah damn. I looked down to see the pit of never ending darkness beneath my feet, a small bit of rope the only thing holding me in place. I paused for a few seconds, and off i went soon joining Dsankt on the platform. After a quick change over i was good to go. Now, owing to the fact the second rope was tied a bit too far down you had to jump into the plughole and wait for the rope to tighten and catch you. You only fell 2ft or so but it felt like 20ft.
After posing for a few photos, i continued down. Slowly and steadily entering the spray and getting covered in Brighton’s finest. A few moments later i felt the touch of concrete on my boot, safe. Phew, i was relieved to have my feet on the ground but the adrenaline rush was insane. My body told me to go again and i had no choice but to obey.
Back up on the platform JD was ready to go. After taking a few pictures he set off into the vortex. Once he touched down i made my second descent. This time armed with the mighty cape!. All was going well until an excruciating burning sensation swept over my thigh. It got worse and worse, and I’m pretty sure i shouted things that would make the baby jesus cry. I had to get down, and fast. Any control of the lever went as the pain kept increasing. It got so bad i decided to crank it open and drop the last 3 meters, crawling out from under the spray. After a careful inspection, i was displeased to find two, foot long rope burns along my thigh. Ouch!
Having lost a portion of my skin i called it a day. I re climbed the stairwell and joined the others. It was now 4am and we were all very, very wet, but we had enjoyed it. We headed back to the car and after a quick lift to the station went our separate ways. Id like to give a big thanks to both JD and Dsankt for supplying the kit and teaching me how to do this crazy stuff.