With 800 caves carved out of the sandstone under Nottingham, visiting the City of Caves tour was top of my list of things to do while in the city. This attraction used to be under the Broadmarsh shopping centre, but that’s been knocked down and something else is being built in its place. However, the Nottingham caves tour is still open with the new entrance down multiple steps behind Nottingham Contemporary.
We paid online booking at the time I wanted, but people did just walk up and pay at the entrance. We arrived a little early so hung around watching the skateboarders and checking out the colourful street art.
The Nottingham caves tour seems to run every 20 minutes, and lasts around 45 minutes. There were 11 people on ours although the tour guide did say he’d had one tour with 20 people. That would definitely have been a crush. We’d booked in advance the night before, but others were paying on the door. There were quite a few young children on our slot given it was school holidays. But it’s not a scary tour, so no worries if you’re worried about ghost stories as there weren’t any.
The tour guide was very good. He explained why there were caves under the city of Nottingham, when the various caves dated back to, and what they were used for. Whether rumoured or facts.
We saw Victorian, Georgian and medieval cave areas on the tour, and also saw different uses. From pubs to storage, from cess pits to tanneries. And not forgetting usage during the world wars.
It was really interesting to understand how the caves became throughfares, who took them over when in history, and the ownership. Evidently, there’s plenty of caves that are privately owned because if you buy a house with a cave underneath, it’s yours!
There was a little interactivity in a couple of places, and lots of chances to ask questions. Near the end you’re also given the chance to spend a bit more time wandering through the last section at your own speed. N was ready to go by then, and we could hear the next group’s tour moving on behind us.
If you’ve got an interest in history, geology, or just fancy seeing what’s under your feet when you’re walking the city, the City of Caves tour could be for you.
Warnings that it is uneven ground inside, and space is limited, so there’s no wheelchairs or pushchair access. Getting there also involves a lot of steps up/down, so it’s not one for someone who struggles with mobility.
The tickets were fairly cheap, so although the tour is quite short, it’s good value for money. I don’t think I’d have taken N when he was younger than key stage 2, as the caves tour is mostly talking. But the young children did seem to cope fine.
Our City of Caves visit tied in quite well with our visit to Wollaton Hall and their tour where we went down into caves there as well.
Have you visited any interesting caves under cities?
Like this post, try these.