Upon driving up to the site, we immediately knew access was going to be tricky. Our sat nav told us that we need to carry on straight ahead at a 5-way junction, but the road straight ahead was blocked by a giant metal fence with a large warning sign nailed to it: MILITARY FIRING RANGE- KEEP OUT. Other enlarged warning signs labelled: ‘DANGER’, ‘STAY OUT’ and ‘QUARRIES ARE NOT PLAY AREAS’, make it pretty clear the landowners are not open to unexpected visitors.
Other explorers of the area had not written much about the firing range. But any doubt about the legitimacy of the signs was soon dispelled, as the echoing shots of gunfire could be heard rolling across the Wiltshire hills.
After a little location scout, we found a small entrance through the main area of the quarry. We scurried through and after a few paces came face-to-face with a sheer drop, in its entirety in front of and below us; the vast chasm of White Horse Quarry presented itself.
The chalk pit was operational from 1962 up until 2009, with the excavated material used for producing cement. Since then the site has been abandoned, though it was reportedly used as a filming location for Mission Impossible in 2021, with Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg spotted filming at the site.
Around 20 million cubic metres of chalk had been extracted from the ground, leaving a white scar in the Earth that covers 100 acres of land, is 60 metres deep and has a 1.75 mile circumference. Obviously, this is tough to visualise, so let’s put it another way:
– The quarry nearly as long as the worlds tallest building is high.
– This quarry is deep enough to house a 17 storey tall building, with room to spare.
– The quarry is wide enough that it could comfortably house the worlds longest ship ever constructed, with a little extra space.
Staying low to the ground, we looked around as the pit before us. Our eyes’ peripherals weren’t wide enough to take the entire landscape in from our vantage point. During our short stay, we were able to confirm one thing: the quarry’s buildings which have been referenced and explored by previous explorers no longer exist. We were in a good vantage point with the ability to see a large part of the pit, but even seeing the entire bowl shaped landscape before us, all that littered the white terrain was rocks, scattered light bushes and the occasional tree.
With people walking around the circumference of the bowl, vehicles coming and going and an active military presence that directly borders the quarry, we decided the time was right to make our exit before we tried our luck further. The quarry still awaits its next visitors, whether they are explorers or the next big Hollywood blockbuster is to be seen.
Last Updated on 10 May 2023 by Michael