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Thread: Disused airfields you can walk around.

  1. #1
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    Nov 2006
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    Disused airfields you can walk around.

    Hi all

    Like most of you Im sure I find the history of disused airfields fascinating and would love to do a bit of exploring round some in the spring. Just walking along the disused runway etc soaking up the atmosphere!

    The trouble is I think most are on private land. The only one I know of which is open to the public is Kenley.

    Do any of you know any more? Preferably in the South East but Im happy to travel.

  2. #2
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    Davidstow Moor in Cornwall was always open ... I learned to drive there
    Martin

  3. #3
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    Blackbushe.......although the main runway is still in use the other 2 aren't and are open to the public.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2005
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    You might want to check out our recent B-24 base tour.
    https://www.facebook.com/The-Aviatio...1481417702348/
    We are up to No.10 of 25 visited just before Christmas
    https://ww2aircraft.net/forum/thread...k.47769/page-4
    We will be adding previous tours once we've written up this one.

  5. #5
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    Jan 2006
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    While outside your original suggested sphere of travel I would recommend a visit to these two evocative sites in South Kesteven, Lincs:

    RAF North Witham – runways still intact, watch office, various other features & a strong D-Day heritage

    https://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry...estTwyfordWood

    RAF South Witham – various building bases and structures still present relating to its weapons storage days

    https://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry...estmorkerywood

    More information here as well http://www.southkesteven.gov.uk/inde...articleid=9042
    Find out what's happening at newarkairmuseum.org
    Please help move Chinook ZA717 to Newark Air Museum

  6. #6
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    Jan 2008
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    Try the New Forrest airfields, Stony Cross, Beaulieu etc there's even the bombing range at Ashley Walk with target markings still to be found and a pond that is a Grand Slam crater.

  7. #7
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    Oxford, via Great Sampford
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    The perimeter track at Great Sampford is absolutely intact, to the point where some of the drains still run, but there's next to no infrastructure left - it's just tarmac in a field.

    RAF Wethersfield is pretty much all there (though mostly Cold War rather than WW2), but you'd need to arrange a visit as its still (just) MOD land - the museum there has a Facebook page.

    trouble with the south east is there's been lots of roads built, and where better than a disused airfield to quarry hardcore...

    Adrian
    "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

  8. #8
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    As you say, so many runways were crushed to make hardcore for motorways. I still remember Hunsdon when it had a runway.
    Engine Failure:.... A condition which occurs when all fuel tanks mysteriously become filled with air.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2011
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    Tangmere; very evocative. Five miles distant, parts of Westhampnett or, Goodwood to give its other name.

  10. #10
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    Sep 2014
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    17
    if you decide to venture down tangmere it is a very good walk round on a sunny day, you could also visit ford airfield which is only a few miles away, goodwood is definitely worth a look but the access inside is quite restricted although you can walk round most of the outside of the perimeter- they have built up grass banks on the majority of it though to stop people getting a free view of the revival so you wont see much of the airfield- the bonus with goodwood is if the weather's ok there will be a fair chance of seeing one of their warbirds flying, the bonus of tangmere is the museum- even if you don't have time to go in or don't want to pay the entry to look inside the car park has got a few interesting exhibits to look at, the drawback with ford is that depending on when you visit there may be a carboot or the ford market to upset the tranquillity

  11. #11
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    Apr 2011
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    South
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    Kenley.
    One of the most complete Battle of Britain stations left with at least one fully restored blast pen and many of the original buildings still visible.
    Just keep outside of the fenced off areas!

  12. #12
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    Mar 2006
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    Andover
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    Hornchurch is now a country park mostly, but not much left of the buildings.
    Chilbolton still has some paths around it, and a bloody great weather radar where the runways crossed, therefore it has not been built on much, still a few remnants around. You can also check out the nearby 'Abbot's mitre' pub for some Sound Barrier memorabilia.
    My old local airfield was Bradwell Bay, still used by learner drivers I believe and the control tower along with some buildings survive, although now a house.

    John
    Toodlepipski

  13. #13
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    Reading
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    Possibly not what you are after, but Greenham Common is a lovely place for a walk- some impressive infrastructure left but it's also a huge and very impressive heathland restoration project.

  14. #14
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    Dec 2007
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    BOLTON Lancs
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    Hanwell Park........... Some buildings from the airfield survive, I think!!!.

  15. #15
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    Chichester, Blighty.
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    Blakehill farm near Swindon used to be mildly interesting.
    It's the one you don't see that gets you (usually)...

  16. #16
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    home counties
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    28
    oakley, bucks.

  17. #17
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    Feb 2007
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    I would agree Beaulieu airfield has miles of lovely walks on old runway and tracks. You can still find recognisable bits from the wartime airfield, https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=be...SbPZ5Y_Bnj7BM: Also taking in nearby Roundhill campsite which still has the original second world war water tower.

  18. #18
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    Mar 2004
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    Harlow Essex
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    Deenthorpe, Northants for a wander down its last runway before a new town gets built on the site,

    Quite a few airfields in Oxfordshire have retained peritracks and runways. former RAF Oakley, Wescott, Barford St John (some scenes from '12 o clock high' shot here) Moreton in the Marsh,(fire Brigade Training centre) Pershore, (was MOD until recently I'm led to believe)

    Bradwell Bay, Essex still has the main, parts of the secondarys, a full peri track, blister hangars and a control tower.

    Rivenhall, Essex was a jewel until aggressive aggregate quarrying destoyed it

    Wymeswold, Leicestershire mostly complete but covered in solar panels.

    Finmere near Buckingham is largely complete.

    As with all old airfields, permission must be sought to wander as most form part of farm or industrial estates.
    Hertfordshire Airfields Memorial Group
    http://hamg.co.uk

    Hunsdon, Sawbridgeworth and Matching Green airfields..
    http://www.wartime-airfields.com

  19. #19
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    Bradwell Bay has been mentioned at least twice - considering a flaming great nuclear power station was built on one side of it, there's a lot left to see.

    Adrian
    "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

  20. #20
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    Black Six
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    ISTR wandering quite freely around Lavenham. Nice control tower there.

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

  21. #21
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    May 2005
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    Bourn, used to exercise a lurcher there chasing rabbits.
    If anybody ever tells you anything about an aeroplane which is so bloody complicated you can't understand it, take it from me: It's all balls. RJM.

  22. #22
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    Had a wander round Harrington airfield near Kettering in Northants. Interesting remains of the airfield and Thor missile site and a museum to visit too ( Harrington/Carpetbaggers Museum)

  23. #23
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    Jan 2004
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    The former RAF Grove near Wantage - the top secret (at the time) Vickers Windsor crash landed there whilst out on a test flight in 1944!
    BOLTER, BOLTER FULL POWER! Keith, if he bolts again we'll have to divert him to St Mawgan

  24. #24
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    Aug 2017
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    46
    So far as Grove is concerned it will shortly disappear under 2500 houses. As phase one is about to start it presumably means land ownership has changed and the 'private land keep out' signs erected by the previous landowner may not be 'policed.' Still private land though.

    Public footpaths give access to the former World War II airfield at Chedworth in the Cotswolds. More here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/gloucest...00/8674751.stm

    The footpaths continue into the outstanding surrounding countryside and pretty villages, the best preserved Roman villa in the UK is also close by.

  25. #25
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    Feb 2006
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    Denis;

    Is there a timscale on the development at Deenethorpe? I must get there for a last look around before it's too late! If you contact the local historical society, they very kindly give you a guided tour. Just glad I was there before the tower was demolished.

    Agreed on Rivenhall. It was a lovely site and as you say, a real gem. Wonder if the Ops site is still accessable? That was well worth a look as well as the old hospital site (with permission as it was a pig farm last time I was there (very smelly, but there was still hospital equipment in there!)

    Steve
    Last edited by RAFRochford; 18th January 2018 at 11:19.

  26. #26
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    Re. Grove - is the SW corner where the 2 runways meet safe at the moment? I'd thought with the business park there it might be OK?

    Not been there for a while now, but it's always nice to let your imagination run away a little and think of all the high powered piston engined aircraft that powered up on those sections of runway... would love to find some pics taken at Grove in WW2, but not many to be found...
    BOLTER, BOLTER FULL POWER! Keith, if he bolts again we'll have to divert him to St Mawgan

  27. #27
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    May 2005
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    Re Post 20 - Lavenham

    As Moggy says, many buildings remain, some in use, some derelict.

    When I went there a few years ago, you first had to visit Lavenham village Tourist office, and they will happily 'register' your vehicle details and phone them through to site owners, so that the site owners know you are coming. But, it costs nothing, and the tourist office then provide details of how to find the airfield and enter the site.

    I didn't venture across the 'active' runway, but was free to drive/walk around the area around the control tower (which is restored and in use as offices). Other parts fo the old airfield may also be accessible or visible from public rights of way, but I had limited time.

    Much evidence of Rackheath Norfolk still remains, and some can be found within the Industrial estate. Runways are long gone, but the tower is another that has been restored as offices and can be found tucked down one of the side roads in the Ind Estate. Public footpaths run from tower across the main airfield and former runways etc. Many old airfield buildings can still be seen if you look round the industrial estate - which was open to visitors rather than 'barrier controlled' entry etc.

    Hemswell Lincs seemed pretty intact inc Hangars a few years ago, and is another Industrial estate - the 'atmosphere' of an old RAF station panorama can be sensed without entering the Ind Estate - but I am sure you could ask at the barrier, and might gain permission to enter the Ind estate (Or perhaps contact estate owners and 'pre-arrange' a visit?).

    Others have mentioned Goodwood (Westhampnet), Tangmere, and Ford Sussex - these are accessible to varying degrees, and from various points (do some research using google maps and OS maps to find rights of way etc) but being so close you could easily visit all three in a day. All have some remaining buildings and/or parts of runways and perimeter tracks and hardstandings etc.

    As said above, the New Forest airfields are easily accessible, but I have found few buildings remaining - and runways have mainly gone - however hardstandings, peri tracks, water-towers etc often still exist, often serving as minor roads or bases for camp/caravan sites etc. Although most of the runway surfaces and some peri-tracks have been dug up, their lines can often still be seen as distinct 'ridges' in the soil, and the old runway light housings tend to be hosting small gorse bushes, which also helps identify the runways. I have walked the full length of Beaulieu's main runway, and then half way round the peri-track. Again, use Goole maps research and OS maps to help find the best points of access etc.

    Dunsfold Surrey is pretty intact including runways, albeit with many post-war mods, and very occasionally hosts events open to public - they used to host an annual super car-based Fathers Day event for one of the local charities, and you could even purchase a trip round the 'Top Gear' track in an exotic car, with entry fee and ride money going to the charity. This gave some access to the areas around the hangars, and fairly free access to much of the airfield. Of course, given proposed redevelopment into new housing, then that may not be an option for much longer :-(.

    Enjoy your wanderings - even where little 'hard evidence' remains, a little research, and some imagination, can often work wonders on many of these old airfields... many of them still seem to 'hold' a real sense of what went on there...
    Last edited by Paul F; 18th January 2018 at 11:59.

  28. #28
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    Aug 2017
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    46
    Hi Nick. Robs Lamplough sold Grove Technology Park two or three years ago and I do miss his low flybys and displays overhead in P-51D Miss Helen. The new owners have ambitious expansion plans, these are awaiting planning approval so more of the airfield may disappear.

    Have you got a copy of Don Summers 'A Short History of Grove Airfield 1941-1996'? Been out of print for some years, lots of pictures in there taken over this period.

  29. #29
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    Jan 2004
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    Hi 3M
    I'd not heard that - doesn't sound like good news then :-(
    Not seen that book, so will have to keep an eye out for it...

    At the start of runway 04 you can just make out a very old large H painted on it - I suppose an old helicopter landing pad, but I've always wondered who it was for - any ideas?
    BOLTER, BOLTER FULL POWER! Keith, if he bolts again we'll have to divert him to St Mawgan

  30. #30
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    Oct 2006
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    Cranfield used to have a public footpath from the village to the domestic site.... straight across the active main runway, that used to cause a few missed heartbeats to see someone plodding across it on finals.

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