Frequently, I've been surprised at how fun it can be to explore smaller drains. Often the finds are less awesome, but perhaps because they require more effort to get to, they seem more incredible and worthwhile when finally discovered.
And so it was with Home by Numbers. This was actually a return trip for me, to explore in greater depth a drain I'd visited once before. On the previous trip, I had only gotten a short way inside before being rudely interrupted by some teenagers. Long story short- I don't like children.
The familiar areas of the pipe hadn't changed since I last saw them. The outfall, a 1350 RCP, slopes noticeably uphill for about 200m before entering a reducer chamber, were the pipe grows to 1650. An intersting sidepipe here resembles a mini-infall; a short, small, corrugated pipe leads to a grated opening in a patch of greenery. This lets in some welcome daylight and fresh, warm air. Not much further upstream is a junction, where a 1500 joins into the main line.
This was about as far as I'd gotten on the previous trip. I knew the 1500 didn't seem very interesting, so I decided to continue up the 1650. Strangely, the pipe soon became nearly dry, with only a trickle of standing water in the bottom, between ridges of muck. There was a very strong echo, though, and I moved quickly to find out what was ahead.
I entered a square manhole chamber, that had sloping 'benches' on the floor at either wall. Interestingly, someone had spraypainted "Home" on the wall; next to this was a chalk tag proclaiming "Shadow's Point". There was still a strong echo coming from upstream, so I moved on.
In the dim light of my headlamp, I could see something strange up ahead in the pipe. I could tell I was approaching a junction room, from the rapid echo, but I was unprepared for what I found when I stepped inside. There were four pipes opening into the room, which was roughly triangular in shape with a stubby wall in the middle. A 1650 & 1500 pipe drained into a 1500, and the 1650 I'd just emerged from was set about a foot above the floor; probably providing extra capacity in times of high flow. The junction was just boring, normal concrete; yet interesting because it makes it possible to walk a complete loop in this drain. There was a small piece of graffiti indicating the way back "Home" on the wall of the pipe I'd just exited.
Aside from the junction, there wasn't much of interest further upstream. I followed the 1650, passing through a couple manhole chambers, until the pipe became a 1350. Here, in the last manhole chamber before the size change, the walls were covered with silver spraypaint scrawls. Graffiti, apparently dated from 1976, shone "Fuck-You" from several walls.
Judging from the complete lack of echo, the 1350 seemed to travel a long way- so I gave up on it after venturing a short way in. I turned back, and headed down and out of the drain, the way I'd come. There was a pretty bad current of air gusting through the upper reach of this drain- not a sewage stink, but more of a burning rubber smell. Definitely unpleasant, the air current carried all the way down to the 4-way junction.
Besides the infrequent tags, an interesting item of graffiti in this drain are the recurring numbers: It appears as though someone numbered the manhole rooms, starting at the outfall and heading upstream. The last I saw was five, I think, although that seems inaccurate, given the number of manhole rooms I passed through.
It was only when I was shooting some photos just inside the outfall did I realize how cold I'd become. I had brought a long sleeve shirt, which I had put on almost immediatly after going underground. Over an hour later, my fingers felt chilled, and it felt really nice to emerge into the sunlight when i was done.