Creswell Crags is a picturesque limestone gorge located on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire county border, with heritage dating back several millennia.
Often described as a ‘hidden gem’ of the East Midlands, Creswell Crags is an internationally important heritage site. During the last Ice Age, between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, Creswell Crags was among the most northerly places on earth to have been visited by prehistoric humans. The site has revealed evidence of creatures such as woolly mammoths and hyenas, and has more evidence of Neanderthal occupation than almost anywhere else in the UK.
The beautiful Magnesium Limestone gorge is honeycombed with caves and fissures. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, today it teems with wildlife and seasonal flowers. It is a beautiful site, great for family days out in nature.
Cave tours run daily, focusing on the different themes and stories of the site. The Life in the Ice Age Tour takes you deep into Robin Hood’s Cave, the largest cave on site, to discover the full scope of the history of the gorge, right back to when hippopotamus roamed the site.
In 2003, Ice Age cave art was discovered in Church Hole Cave. This art is 13,000 years old and one of the only examples of rock art from this era found in the UK. The Rock Art Tour runs from March to September to see, and help you interpret, this fascinating glimpse into the past.
In 2019, the team at Creswell Crags discovered that marks on the walls of Robin Hood Cave, previously assumed to be Victorian graffiti, were actually recognisable apotropaic marks – or Witch Marks – carved to keep away evil spirits in the Medieval and Early Modern eras. There are more of these marks in one cave at Creswell Crags than anywhere else in the UK and the discovery made international headlines. The Witch Marks Tour runs at weekends, to see some of these marks up close and learn more about the mystery and folklore associated with them.
In addition, the Hyena’s Den cave tour runs regularly throughout the year, focused on these fascinating creatures which once lived in the gorge. There are also Behind the Scenes collections store tours on selected days, and an extensive special events programme with something for all interests and ages.
There is also a fascinating onsite museum, including artefacts from the collections of the British Museum and Natural History Museum, all found in caves on the site.
Even if you don’t take a cave tour, Creswell Crags can fill a full day, with wonderful walks, linked to pathways across the neighbouring estates of Welbeck and Clumber, and a network of bridle paths. There is an onsite café with a seasonal menu of locally sourced food including light meals and indulgent cakes and bakes. There is also a gift shop, with unique souvenirs, gifts and books on offer. The site is run by a charitable trust and every purchase supports their important education and conversation work.
Booking is advised for cave tours and the full range of prices and times, as well as details of special events, can be found via the website or on social media.