With a heavy heart I have to say that one of the first urban airsoft sites I went to known as the Outpost or Drakelow tunnels is now closed. I have visited there many times over the years. I would just like to share some of my memories of this place as a tribute to how good it was.
My first time there was 20 years ago when I had recently passed my driving test and I was able to drive my team to the site from North Wales in the UK. Anxious and excited we eventually found the location hidden away in the hills near Kidderminster, England. As you walk into the site through a cut out in the rock and pass through a thick blast door into a corridor taking you deep under the hill. The safe zone is an allocated room just off the main corridor. We soon felt ready once we geared up sporting our cheap tactical gear and TM G36’s and P90’s.
I distinctly remember being in awe at the size of the site. Consisting of four large tunnels with interlinking smaller passageways. Two of the tunnels were in complete darkness. It was a combination of fear and safety using these two tunnels, not knowing if the enemy were there waiting for you but on the flip side you know you probably would not get seen.
It was in these dark tunnels where our team were trying to flank the enemy (we were green and the enemy was red, indicated by tape on our arm) were cautiously walking through the darkness. You literally struggled to see your hand in front of you, every now and then you would make out a shape of something or someone. Trying to be as quiet as we could, I walked straight into someone, saying, “sorry mate.” Then pausing to think….. hang on, I was point man so there should be no one in front of me???
I said “what colour are you mate? We are green” . . . Silence just the sound of awkward footsteps trying to separate some ground between us then a quick response. “RED”!!! This was followed by a burst of fire from one, two, three…… too many positions to count. We all responded firing in the direction we thought the fire came from. Some of the enemy had tracer BB’s. This was my first time seeing them. It was similar to a scene in Star Wars. I was so impressed. Obviously I was hit fairly early on in the engagement.
I returned from respawn to the same tunnel, again in a deathly silence. You could hear people trying to walk, crawl or move around anyway they could. I had to find my team, my friends somewhere amongst all these people on edge with twitchy trigger fingers!!!
Luckily the first person I came across was one of my teammates. We decided to return to the office section of the tunnels which were lit. Eventually we managed to regroup with the rest of our team.
Later visits our kit got better along with our tactics. Armed with weapons which had torches, mainly MP5’s, shotguns and my friend still had his trusty P90, we also had BFG’s (blank firing grenades) and MK5’s. room clearing got easier and lighting up those dark corners were a huge bonus. Our radios worked but there were issues between tunnels if we split up.
One occasion our entire side not just my team was stuck at a doorway with a double door that opened in both directions. Anytime someone opened the door they were dropped instantly. Eventually we managed to sneak a couple of grenades through. This cleared the guys who had the doorway locked down but a guy ran to just behind the door, tucking himself into the corner in a position where he would be able to hit anyone of us coming through the door.
I asked my friend for his P90 and handed him my MP5. Then I rolled through the doors in some kind of un-graceful forward roll which startled the guy enough for me to shoot him mid roll, only I had the P90 accidently on auto not semi as I intended and got the poor chap from his groin up in a matter of seconds. I was followed by countless guys from our side that pushed through as I apologised to the guy, I still don’t think he believed me it was accidently on auto as he was holding his crotch!!
Lastly this place introduced me to mouseholes and skirmishing in public bathrooms.
Both usually end up painfully. I remember our team doing rock paper scissors to see who is going through the mouse hole first. Just having to crawl on all 4’s through a hole in a brick wall into a room with heaps of cover expecting the enemy to be waiting, pointing their guns at the hole…. Or on one occasion with a pistol waiting right up against the wall shooting you just as you stick your head through. They also act as a great shortcut and sneaky entrance allowing you to get behind the enemy if they are not expecting it. Always a gamble, just do not lose the rock paper scissors!!!
The bathrooms in Drakelow were always a bloodbath for both sides. Limited cover and literally one way through. The only way to break ground is grenades and throwing people at it. OH the pain and the sacrifice but if you ease up you lose.
Drakelow will always be in my memory as one of our go to urban/CQB sites. I hope many of you share such great memories of the place and look forward to more unique sites opening soon. I.G