Have a go at… an ice age adventure

Church Hole Cave, Creswell


What better way to spend an idle Sunday than to be transported back thousands of years, to witness the mark of early man –

Imagine standing where cave dwellers once stood and seeing historical records left for us to enjoy for years to come. That’s exactly what I did during March – as I took to the north of the county once again attending one of the first rock art tours of the season at Creswell Crags.

I joined the tour alongside a keen group of Northumbrians, in search of a Nottinghamshire adventure. We were told to assemble by a rather scary looking hyena – affectionately named Spot by the Crags staff.

Helen, our guide, issued us with hard hats (true explorer guise), and after a swift introduction we set off on the short walk to the gorge. The gorge is wonderful at this time of year, with magnificent rolling meadows, spring sunshine (if you’re lucky) and a variety of water birds.

Exploring the Gorge

Here I am in true explorer guise, heading to the caves.

The walk to the cave was a little uneven, with a few steps to climb, so do bear this in mind. Once arriving at Church Hole cave (named by the Victorians), we were led inside and assembled along a constructed platform to get the best view of the rock art.

The cave was lit by natural light, described as the best way to see the artwork, but to help us see the real detail, Helen carefully traced around the shapes with an ultra modern laser pen – a great example of two worlds coming together. We also had access to photographs and drawings to help us best make out the animal forms.

We were treated to cave art of animals such as deer stags and bison (which would have inhabited the crags), but also the remarkable ibis (a particular highlight for me) which were never native to Creswell, conjuring up imaginative ideas about where they may have seen such a bird.

It was amazing to think that the cave in which I was standing was once a seasonal residence of early man – and that Creswell is home to such a rare find. Who knew that we had such an historical spectacle right on our doorstep?

During the tour you will, hear stories of how the caves were used, discover how the artwork was unearthed, and are encouraged to judge for yourself as to how the cave art came to be there.
Helen, our guide, was extremely knowledgeable and very patient – allowing us to take as long as we liked perusing the art, and asking questions. No question went unanswered.

Church Hole Cave, Creswell

What will you discover on the cave walls at Creswell?

The art was only officially acknowledged in 2003, making it still a relatively young experience in relation to the age of the display you will witness (dated at around 13000 years old) – which makes it feel even more special…

…And famous faces too have marvelled at the artwork, including acclaimed naturalist Sir David Attenborough. (See Creswell Crags Facebook page for a picture of Sir David, gazing in wonderment at the Ibis – a must see).

After we had gathered our thoughts, taken some snaps and marvelled at the art a little longer, we were led out of the cave and back to the centre.
The tour took around forty minutes although it is easy to enjoy a full day at Creswell Crags with an accompanying exhibition, a meadow specifically for picnics and a lovely cafe stocked with treats. It definitely serves as a great little weekend treat to inspire explorers both young and old.

Rock art tours are just one of the tours available at Creswell Crags (weekends only). The tours are very popular and I would advise ringing to book – so as not to be disappointed. Prices are below.

Creswell are also hosting special celebrations this weekend as they launch the ‘Bolsover Dragonfly Project’.


[Rock Art Cave Tour (including Exhibition Entry) – £8 adults, £7 concessions, £6 children]

Posted on 29 March 2012
Featured author: Lynzi E-Marketing Officer

Often found roaming the Notts countryside. Spaniel Lover. Stargazer. Sweet tooth.

Comments (1)

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  • Another wonderful piece Lynzi, I really enjoyed the part about two worlds coming together! I’ve visited and worked at Creswell Crags also, and therefore was able to view some of the art. I believe when I was there they had just discovered a drawing of an ibex hidden away in the caves. Anyway, this is definitely a must see for everyone, a rare and fun way to get in touch with our early ancestors!

    Posted by Robyn

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