Saturday, August 09, 2008

A visit to Creswell Crags

Yesterday I visited Creswell Crags on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border.

As its website says:

Creswell Crags is a limestone gorge honeycombed with caves and smaller fissures. Stone tools and remains of animals found in the caves by archaeologists provide evidence for a fascinating story of life during the last Ice Age between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Further evidence came to light in 2003 with the discovery of Britain's only known Ice Age rock art. Creswell Crags was among the most northerly places on earth to have been visited by our ancient ancestors, a story that is unique on a European and World scale.

Better still, the gorge contains a lake that was constructed for the Dukes of Portland in the 18th century.

A new visitor centre is being constructed at the Crags, but at presently it is a pleasingly underdeveloped attraction despite its archaeological importance. You can go on a guided tour of the caves, but you have to book in advance.

Up until a couple of years ago, a B road ran through the gorge - it must have been one of the more unexpectedly spectacular drives in the country. Now it has been diverted and the authorities have moved a neighbouring sewage farm too.

I travelled there by train. Creswell is on the Robin Hood Line, which runs between Nottingham and Worksop. The train calls at Mansfield, which always used to compete with Corby for the accolade of being the largest town in Britain without a railway station.

The Robin Hood Line was opened after the closure of the area's coal mines in the 1990s. As Wikipedia explains, it is a modern creation made up from the routes of more than one of the Victorian railway companies. It also involved the relaying of track in one place and even the reopening of a tunnel that had been filled with rubble after the line closed.

The way the remains of the mining industry have been planted over is impressive, but this remains a despoiled landscape. Yet, as I wrote after visiting Bolsover Castle, it did not come to the area until late in the 19th century.

Creswell is clearly still suffering from the closure of its mine, which was the site of a disaster in 1950 in which 80 people died (though it was not possible to recover some of the bodies until a year afterwards).
Photo from flickr


Gorilla Bananas said...

It looks like a decent place for a gorilla to live, but I still wouldn't vote Liberal Democrat.

Gorilla Bananas said...

...mainly because I don't have the vote.

Niles said...

In recent times, Mansfield has been promoted from "largest town with no railway station" to "largest town with a railway station and no Sunday service" - but even that is shortly to be sorted out, hopefully, thanks to the auspices of the rail enthusiasts on the County Council