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Underground Passages
Ranked #10 of 124 things to do in Exeter
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Dating from 14th century, these medieval passages under Exeter High Street are a unique ancient monument: no similar system of passages can be explored by the public elsewhere in Britain. The Passages have long exercised a fascination over local people, with stories of wars and sieges, plague and pestilence! Their purpose was simple: to bring clean drinking water from natural springs in fields lying outside the walled city, through lead pipes into the heart of the city. The pipes sometimes sprang leaks and repairs to buried pipes could only be carried out by digging them up as we do today. To avoid this disruption the passages were vaulted and it is down some of these vaulted passageways that visitors are guided.The Passages are dark and narrow with a fascinating history. Visitors can experience interactive and educational exhibits in the Underground Passages Heritage Centre and watch a short video presentation before their guided tour.
Reviewed 13 August 2014

Lived in exeter all my life of 37 years and don't think I've ever been before. I will most defiantly be going again. I went with my two girls who thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the tour and seeing there dad squeeze and bend in some small spaces

Thank Silee1977
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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312 - 316 of 482 reviews

Reviewed 13 August 2014

If you are looking for something quirky and different from the usual museum visit then this could be for you: a guided tour through the medieval underground passages which used to carry the city's water supply. It would be a squeeze for anyone of six foot or over, as well as those of medium height but substantial build as I'm 5' 4" and still had to stoop for much of the tour. Thankfully we were all kitted out in hard hats so there was no cranial damage! Our guide gave us an interesting commentary on the history of the passages and there was a sense of adventure as we weaved our way along below the traffic which could just about be heard above our heads. There's a short film before you go in and a very well presented little museum to look around while waiting, including some hands on stuff for kids. It cost £6 for adults and £5 for concessions, which seemed pretty decent value. The only reason I've downed it a star is that, in truth, there's not a great deal of variety to what you have to see down there. It's a network of tunnels - fun to scamper around, especially if you're brave enough to crawl through an optional section which is only about three foot high. But as you might expect of a functional hole in the ground it's exactly the same all the way round. One thing to note is that the tours do fill up quickly so it is best to book in advance if you want to avoid a long wait or missing out. Another is that the Park & Ride stop is conveniently right outside the door.

1  Thank norfolknobs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2014

For £6 it is worth a visit underground to see these historic underground passages. A short guided tour under the streets. The tours are at set times and get busy so we had to go back later in the day, but wasn't a problem.

Thank Dave P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 August 2014

The underground passages give an interesting insight into life in Exeter as well as historic construction techniques. There is a small museum at the start of the tour and a DVD presentation about the history of the tunnels which was a good way to hear the story prior to stepping into the tunnels themselves. The tour was informative, we saw the medieval sections of tunnel, built to supply the cathedral with water, and later sections built to supply water to the city. The tunnels had a strategic importance too, going under the city as they did, so it was interesting to hear about the way they were guarded too. At the end of the tour there is a choice of two routes, one of which meant crawling through tunnel one metre high. Not an attraction for the claustrophobic! The tunnel tour lasted about half and hour, though with time spent in the museum allow a little more time.

1  Thank GeorgyH1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 August 2014 via mobile

We have visited several times and despite loving fairly locally the kids always ask to visit when we are in the city which is great because as being fun it is educational this is a great way for them to learn about the local area in a hands on fun way however it is also great for us adults!

The tours are based right in the city centre and is a great option if you are looking for something dry to avoid the Devon showers!

The your starts with a short video explaining the history if the tunnels before you are taken on a guided and informative tour, hard hats are provided and very necessary for the low roofs in some locations however this makes it more fun for the kids!

The tour is fairly flat so should be ok for the majority of people even my mother in law made it however it does get quite small and low in places and could be uncomfortable if you suffer with claustrophobia, I guess it depends on individual preference as we have never had an issue!

The tour costs £18 for a family of four but we consider this good value for the experience - they do get very busy in the summer holidays so we would suggest booking ahead if possible.

One observation (although this could be our imagination!) we have done the same visit several times in winter periods and actual tunnel tour seemed longer than in the summer possibly as they were busy?

Over all a great adventure for adults and children, locals and tourists alike however maybe select a quieter period for a longer tunnel walk!

Thank cashaxl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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