Through the forest, Daniel brings us to our first encounter with a building. It’s unclear what purpose it served when in use, but a huge brick-framed window offers our team a great swim-through and an obvious photo-opportunity.
Lingering to frame a shot for too long, we lose Daniel. Has he finned off back into the green-hued Forest?
Perhaps not accustomed to the endless stop-start habits of underwater shooters, we’ll lose him on a few more occasions, yet he always manages to relocate us stragglers eventually.
A few fish shoal among the submerged trees – the usual quarry inhabitants, mainly perch. A lone pike also passes us as we leave the watery woodland and meet the prison wall, complete with lamps and barbed- and razor-wire.
We are able to “fly” over this brick wall, probably the stuff of many a dream for the former inmates.
Once on the other side, Daniel leads us into a network of utility buildings.
The silhouette of a barred window is cast on the concrete floor as we enter the first building. As my eyes adjust to the darkness, I can make out buckets, spades and more boots on the ground.
Regulator exhaust bubbles spread across the ceiling, forming a layer like liquid metal. Our torch-beams briefly illuminate peeling paintwork on the walls, as we move from room to room.
Losing most of the team again, we leave one structure and fin across to another, this time entering through a gap in a partially collapsed roof.
We make a lap of the room and exit at the same point, carefully avoiding snagging ourselves on exposed metal reinforcements.
Because of its shallow depth, it is possible simply to surface at the quarry, gather your visual bearings (if without a compass) and descend once again, but pride gets in the way of doing that, of course, so we plod on, ever-hopeful.
The Bomb Shelter’s exit hatch.
Daniel gathers us together after a few minutes of following divers who look as if they know where they’re going and beckons us towards the final point of interest within our now almost-90-minute-dive – “the Bomb Shelter”.
The dive-centre have given this name to the structure, unable to identify its purpose, but it’s entirely possible that it was used as some kind of blast refuge, with its robust metal tubular design and escape hatch at one end.
Or perhaps it was a place of punishment for those caught leaning on their spades?
I’m invited to lead the way in and, once inside this poky place, I note the light streaming down from the hatch and metal ladder at one end – my exit-point. It’s a tight-ish spot, perhaps 10m long and with no significant space to turn around.
The interior is full of clutter – broken chairs, buckets and unidentifiable items I’ll simply call “equipment”.
The crawl out of the roof hatch is a snug one, and probably a space in which the cave-diving fraternity would enjoy hanging out.
I would normally be bored stiff diving most quarries, if not too cold after spending 90 minutes under water, yet here I simply don’t want to leave.