Always wanted to start urban exploring but unsure where to start? Check out our frequently asked urbex questions below. If your question is still unanswered, then please don’t hesitate to contact us.
What is Urbex?
Urbex is an abbreviation of the term urban exploration. It can be defined as the exploration of derelict and forgotten about buildings, locations, or structures that is rarely seen by the everyday public.
Is Urban Exploration legal in the UK?
It’s a grey area. Whilst urban exploring usually involves trespassing onto private land, trespassing itself is a civil matter in most cases between you and the landowner and therefore not a criminal matter.
If a landowner has asked you to leave, then you should. It is an offence to return to the location for three months after being asked to leave by the landowner and the police can become involved. The landowner can also take court action against you seeking an injunction to be granted or for monetary compensation for nuisance caused.
Criminal trespass applies to certain locations in the UK. They include:
– Ministry of Defence Sites
– Power Plants
– Royal Palaces and estates
– Railway lines
– Telecommunication sites
– Active quarries
If you have forced entry, vandalised the site or removed items whilst out at an urbex location then these are separate criminal offences in which you can be arrested for.
Please see the section below on what not to bring when urban exploring.
We do not break the law when entering a site and neither should you. Entry is never forced.
How to find abandoned urbex locations?
By driving / cycling / walking around
Our best finds have been from simply just driving around. Keep your eyes peeled for abandoned buildings when out in public. You will be surprised at how many there are!
Google and Bing Maps
Scrolling Google or Bing maps on satellite is a terrific way to find locations. Bing also has a handy feature called “Birds eye view” which is a closer shot of an area taken by a low altitude plane. This feature is more common for large cities than rural locations though, so this feature is not always an option.
When scouting for industrial urbex locations, a great tip is to follow the railway tracks or rivers as that is where commerce took place historically. Satellite view allows you to cover vast areas in a small period.
When scrolling Google or Bing maps keep your eyes peeled of the following:
– Holes in roofs
– Missing tiles or shingles on roofing
– Collapsed walls
– Overgrown vegetation
– Fallen trees
– Burnt out structures or vehicles
– General wasteland or underdeveloped areas
When using Google or Bing maps, remember that the satellite view may be outdated. We have been to a few urbex locations that on arrival have been a pile of rubble but are still structurally intact on satellite view!
Simply searching for “abandoned building city name” can yield results.
Some recommended Google searches include:
“abandoned” + “city name”
“abandoned warehouse” + “city name”
“abandoned house” + “city name”
“city name” + “urbex”
“city name” + “urban exploration”
“abandoned building” and “city name”
Local paper websites
Use their search facility to search for ‘abandoned’, ‘derelict’, ‘decaying’ building(s).
Estate agent (realtor) or property auction websites
Check out both commercial and residential estate agent websites or auction houses for “properties in need of renovation.”
If the asking price is not in keeping with other buildings in the area, then there is a good chance it has been abandoned.
Join local urbex groups or historical groups on Facebook to see abandoned locations near you.
If you have an idea of where the urbex location is, you can use Google or Bing maps to find it.
Read Urbex Hub articles
Many articles on Urbex Hub contain the location and GPS co-ordinates of urbex locations we have visited. Get reading!
Is urbex safe?
Fundamentally, exploring abandoned buildings carries inherent risks as they are no longer maintained. With urban exploration it is never advisable to explore alone. Always buddy up and explore with at least one other person for safety.
Can I take things from abandoned places?
No. Even if the place has been abandoned for years, removing, or taking items from an urbex location is still theft.
Do you have any urbex safety tips?
Never Explore Alone
Never urbex alone and always buddy up and go with at least one other person. It is also wise to inform someone else where you are going for safety in case something happens – sharing your live location on WhatsApp while at an urbex location works well here.
Abandoned buildings are also attractive to people other than urban explorers. It is only a matter of time before you will bump into homeless people, squatters, drug users, scrap metal thieves etc. Safety in numbers is paramount here.
If you hear people when you arrive, just leave, and come back another time. It is not worth the hassle and potential confrontation.
Be mindful of the structure
Check out the condition of the floors and beams before walking over them. Also, when walking across, walk in a single file to avoid too much weight being transferred onto the potentially weakened structure. Be especially vigilant if the roof is leaking as this accelerates decay.
Be on the lookout for asbestos as older buildings usually contain it. Bring a mask and know how to identify asbestos.
Whilst asbestos is usually only harmful if you have been exposed to it for an extended period – it is better to be safe than sorry. Mesothelioma is no joke.
If exploring by car, always park out the way. Parking right in front of the location usually means the police are swiftly on scene. Be discrete!
Only ever explore drains during the day. Remember, drains can quickly flood, and urban explorers have drowned when exploring drains. We recommend you stay away from drain exploration as not only is it illegal in many places to explore drains, but stagnant water also carries so many health risks as it is a breeding ground for both mosquitos and bacteria.
Wear old but robust clothing
It is inevitable you will end up ripping or tearing your clothes, but it is better to rip old, robust clothes than your skin. It is advisable to wear long sleeved clothing and trousers / jeans to mitigate some risk of cuts from abandoned locations.
Stay away from stray dogs.
If you hear dogs in a building or see them on site, then leave. Stray dogs can be dangerous, scary, and very unpredictable. They are faster and stronger than you and not worth the risk.
Is the residential urbex location really abandoned?
It is quite common in rural settings for families to build new homes beside or nearby an existing abandoned one. Always scout ahead and check local records to ensure the property is truly abandoned.
What equipment do you need for urban exploration?
When out urban exploring we recommend the following equipment:
We use a wide angle 10-22mm for interior shots and a 17-55mm or a 24-105mm for everything else. A 50mm is also a recommend purchase as it takes up so little room in a camera backpack and is great for up close shots.
First Aid Kit
Accidents can and do happen when exploring. A compact and waterproof first aid kit will not break the bank and could potentially end up being a lifesaving purchase. Remember to replace any items that have been used and to check the expiry dates of items within the kit when packing for an explore.
Flashlight or headlight.
Once the electricity goes off for the final time, most locations become quite dark. Always bring a torch or headlight to ensure you can safety manoeuvre around an abandoned location. Additional batteries are always recommended as you never know how long you will be exploring for!
Old buildings and industrial units are filled with sharp objects and broken glass.
Older buildings usually contain asbestos and, in some cases, lead based paints. Always bring with you a mask. We recommend an n95 mask or a respirator.
As mentioned above, some locations can be quite dark. To take long exposure camera shots to counter this, we recommend a travel tripod or a Joby Gorilla Pod / Manfrotto Pixi Mini.
A waterproof bag is necessary for protecting your camera equipment and gear.
Water and snacks
It can get hot in abandoned locations once the air conditioning is no longer turned on. Bring water and snacks to stay hydrated and to keep the hunger pains away.
Surface and baby wipes
It is inevitable your equipment and hands will get dirty when urban exploring. Pack these to clean your gear and yourself when at an urbex location.
What equipment should you NOT bring?
When going out to urbex locations please remember to ensure you have not packed any of the following:
– Spray Paint / Markers
– Knives / Screw drivers etc
– Plies / Crowbars / Hammers etc
– Lock Picks
This is where civil trespass becomes criminal trespass as the police will assume you are “going equipped” or “with intent” to burgle or vandalise a location.
Always check your bags before you set off exploring!
What is the “Urbex Code”?
“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”
The “Live, Laugh, Love” of the urbex community but it encompasses the core ethos of urban exploration.
Why does Urbex Hub only give out some locations and not all?
Here at Urbex Hub, if we have not shared the location then this is usually to protect the site from theft, arson, general vandalism, or squatting. We never share the locations of residential buildings due to this.
If the location has not been shared on the post, then please do not ask us for it.
Do you swap locations?
Only with fellow urban explorers who we have been on adventures with or know. If we are unsure of who you are, we will not swap any locations with you.
Do you have any social media accounts?
Can I use your photos or articles?
The photos and text on Urbex Hub may not be copied, reprinted, hosted, or otherwise distributed by any means without explicit written permission.