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A large number of transatlantic submarine cables make landfall in Widemouth Bay, near Bude in Cornwall, UK. I have some questions about visiting this site:

  • What does a cable landing point look like?
  • How close can you get to one?
  • Where is the infrastructure that carries the signals further inland?
  • Is it possible to see one online? I see just a beach when I visit Widemouth bay in Google Maps (though the GCHQ listening station nearby is obvious enough...)
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    I don't think you can see anything, as they will be entering inside a building that is closed to the public, and onward infrastructure is probably also buried into the ground. – gerrit Dec 15 '17 at 14:15
  • According to Wikipedia entry on Widemouth Bay most of the repeater station is below ground. Sadly there is no picture so this is just a comment not an answer. – mdewey Dec 15 '17 at 14:32
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You won't likely see much on the beach though sometimes storms expose parts of cables, which may or may not be in use.

Much of the heavy communications infrastructure in Cornwall is hidden underground and in nondescript industrial buildings, bungalow-like buildings, down small roads that claim to lead to farms and such like. Partly security through obscurity.

Also the new cable landing stations may be a few km inland with splices hidden underground. There are locked manhole covers on the surface but little else that is visible.

Here is a (apparently) disused cable landing station with underground bunker for TAT3/TAT8 just up from Widemouth beach (photo from Google Earth street view):

enter image description here

Right on Widemouth Beach, you may be able to see evidence (such as manhole covers right on the beach) of the Europe-India gateway cable & GLO1 landing near the lifeguard station.

The actual landing building for those cables is a couple km away, and you won't be able to get close enough to see very much:

enter image description here

  • Is "security through obscurity" really at play here? The facilities you describe are not obscure to the point of evading detection by potential saboteurs, since they are obvious to us who have only a casual interest. I rather suspect that their design was driven by other considerations. Underground facilities are better protected from weather. Nondescript buildings are less costly to build. – phoog Dec 17 '17 at 16:29
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    @phoog In the days before Google Earth and bloggers with peculiar interests it would have been a lot harder to discover this stuff without actually skulking around. The exact locations of landings etc. were explicitly not made public for security reasons. I have seen similar installations in the US- military quality roads built to look innocuous from the air but capable of carrying heavy equipment and surveillance disguised as cacti. Of course they are not fooling countries with strategic nukes, but it might slow down some players and allow them to track the probing- maybe I am on a list now. – Spehro Pefhany Dec 17 '17 at 17:01
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I have a beach house in New Jersey near the landing points for several cables. The only thing to see is a rusty sign saying DO NOT ANCHOR HERE. This web site says the sign at Widemouth Bay says TELEPHONE CABLE: http://www.picturetheuk.com/uk-tourism/things-to-do/widemouth-bay-telephone-cable-cornwall-4663.html You might enjoy the museum at Porthcurno, all about the early telegraph cables that landed there: http://www.porthcurno.org.uk/index.php

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