Made infamous by the tales of Robin Hood as the lair of the outlaw’s archenemy, the Sheriff of Nottingham, the city itself is a lovely distraction away from the smoke and hustle of London. It’s an easy 2 hour train ride from London to Nottingham station, and from there, the city and surrounds are easily accessible. If you find yourself in Notts, as the locals call the city, here are top 5 things to do in Nottingham.
Nottingham Castle sits atop a sandstone outcrop overlooking the town itself. There’s a lovely museum and art gallery set in the buildings, or if you’re lucky enough to visit during the yearly week long Robin Hood Festival at Nottingham Castle, there are jousts, a fair and plenty of people dressed up in medieval costumes, including Robin and his Merry Men. It’s colourful, kitsch and a lot of fun.
The knight’s horses wear pennants and coloured banners. Friar Tuck drinks from a jug and Little John brandishes a stout wooden staff. It’s all rather exactly like those books and stories we are all so familiar with, and I get quite caught up with the fun of it all. There is a medieval fair going on, complete with the Kings’ tent, men fletching arrows, a flax worker, tapestry weaver, chainmail maker, alchemist, leatherworker and of course, a tent selling ale and beers.
Claiming to be one of England’s oldest inns, this atmospheric old pub is definitely a Nottingham highlight. The walls are smoky, the ceilings are low and there’s a suit of armour in one corner. We have to duck our heads as we navigate its warm, ochre depths. The bar offers ale on tap and every weekday night there’s a game of Ring the Bull, an old traditional pub game. Wagers are usually a round of drinks for contenders.
City of Caves
A whole other world beneath Nottingham’s streets, the caves are the remnants of tunnels originally dug during Anglo-Saxon times as a refuge in dangerous times. More recently they were used as bomb shelters during World War II, when Nottingham was blitzed. Now, the caves are peaceful, and quiet, and not a little eerie – a very different perspective to the hustle and bustle of the city above.
Galleries of Justice Museum
The Galleries of Justice have a grim history. It was here that Nottingham’s outlaws were tried, judged and executed. The museum brings history to life with fantastic audio and visual displays, as well as actors, for a fully immersive experience. If you’ve got a strong constitution, entertaining ghost tours run every Friday night (with guides telling stories of the guilty, the innocent and the accused.
Ezekial Bone Tours
Run by Ade Andrews, Ezekial Bone Tours (http://www.ezekialbone.com/) offer heritage tours – the most popular being the Robin Hood tour, which explores the legend of the popular outlaw. The tour takes in the caves, Nottingham Castle, the Lace Market, the gaol and St Mary’s Church. There are other thematic tours, such as Guts & Gore and the Magic Lantern tour, which explores Nottingham’s theatrical history.