Coast’s Choice: Nottinghamshire

This week we’re venturing into Robin Hood country to bring you the best things to see and do in Nottinghamshire. The birthplace of D.H. Lawerence and ancestral home of Lord Byron is rich in history and culture, as well as boasting a leading cricket club and the popular Nottingham Forest football team.

Here are some of the Coast team’s favourite Nottinghamshire hotspots:

Cresswell Crags

Britain’s only known cave art from the Ice Age is situated within the world-famous archaeological sit eof Cresswell Crags. Etched on a cave wall in a limestone gorge, images of birds, deer and horse dating back 13,000 years are still visible for today’s society to gain a fascinating insight into the thoughts and lives of prehistoric man.

Cresswell Crags runs regular cave tours and the visitor centre brings its heritage to life with interactive displays. The nearby lake also provides a relaxing  backdrop for an afternoon walk or family picnic.

Open daily during the summer and at weekends during the winter, admission to Cresswell Crags is free although entry to the exhibition costs £3 for adults and £1.50 for children. There is also a charge for guided cave tours – click here to find out more.

Nearest caravan site: 4.1 miles

Green’s Windmill

Built by scientist and mathematician George Green in the early 1800s, the windmill is both a historical gem and an education haven, as it has been transformed into a science centre to teach young people about Green’s discoveries.

The windmill was almost destroyed by fire in 1947, however Nottingham City Council restored it to its former glory in the 1980s. Visitors can see grain being turned into flour at the working mill, or get involved in interactive scientific experiments that demonstrate how Green’s dicoveries are applicable to everyday life – with activities exploring the concepts of magnetism, electricity and light.

Green’s Windmill is open from Thursday-Sunday between March and November and entry is completely free! Directions are available via the official museum website.

Nearest caravan site: 0.9 miles

The Harley Gallery

Since being founded as a charitable trust in the late 1970s, The Harley Gallery has become an important centre of original artwork. It was initially set up to provide artists and craftsmen with a well-maintained workspace to stimulate creativity, and over the past three decades it has grown into one of the East Midlands’ most important studio areas.

More than that, The Harley Gallery – which is situated within the grounds of Welbeck Abbey – showcases the products of its tenants’ labour at its inbuilt art gallery. Regular exhibitions celebrate local talent, a variety of artistic mediums and educating the next generation about the importance of art. It also features the vaulted Treasury Gallery, which is dedicated to displaying the Portland Collection, a gathering of fine and decorative artwork built up by the abbey’s owners, the Cavendish family, over several centuries.

The gallery also holds a programme of workshops, talks and tours of its studios and the abbey’s state rooms – although its state room tours are fully booked for 2012. To find out more about the exhibitions taking place, visit The Harley Gallery website.

Nearest caravan site: 3.9 miles

Newstead Abbey

This glorious stately home housed one of Nottinghamshire’s most famous literary figures, Lord Byron, from 1808-1814, although its history stretches back much further. It was originally built in the 12th century as a monastic house and the west front of its 13th century church and chapter house medieval cloisters have survived until the present day.

Byron sold the property to plantation heir Thomas Wildman in 1818, who in turn sold it to African explorer Frederick Webb some fifty years later. Its Victorian grandeur is celebrated in the abbey’s interior, with photographs of the house as it once appeared and period furniture and paintings on display.

Other items to watch out for on your visit include artist Pieter Tillemans views of the abbey in the eighteenth century, intricate oak paneling in the Great Hall and priceless books in the Gothic Revival Library.

Newstead Abbey is surrounded by 300 acres of greenery and water features, inspired by many cultural influences. There are gardens dedicated to the plant life of Japan, America, France and Spain, along with sub-tropical borders. Visitors can also pay homage to the stump of an oak tree planted by Byron, which provided the inspiration for his poem To An Oak.

Tickets for Newstead Abbey grounds cost £6 per car plus an additional £5 per person if you visit on a Sunday and wish to take part in a tour of the house. Click here for further information.

Nearest caravan site: 5.5 miles

Sherwood Forest

The county’s most famous landmark is a must-see attraction if you’re staying in or passing through the area.

Sherwood Forest stretches more than 30 miles between Nottingham and Worksop, and was used in the 10th century as a royal hunting preserve. Legend has it that, during the Middle Ages, a skilled archer named Robin Hood took up residence in the woodland after being outlawed, where he and his band of merry men hatched their plans to steal from the rich and give their spoils to the poor.

Today, Sherwood Forest is fragmented into several tourist attractions, many of which celebrate the tales of Robin Hood. Several country parks including Sherwood Forest Country Park, Rufford Abbey and Sherwood Pines are situated within its vicinity; perfect if you want to imagine the grandeur of the ancient trees during its heyday.

Four ducal estates – Clumber House, Thoresby Hall, Worksop Manor and Welbeck Abbey – are also located within its confines, whilst it’s well worth taking a trip to the visitor centre and National Nature Reserve to learn about the flora and fauna that thrive within the forest.

Opening times and prices vary depending on the elements you wish to visit, so Coast advises you check the Sherwood Forest website for more information.

Nearest caravan site: several parks dotted around the outskirts of the forest

This summer, Coast can protect your caravan or campervan when you’re out and about courtesy of our comprehensive touring caravan insurance and motorhome insurance. To find out more about our policies, call our friendly sales team on Freephone 0800 614 849.

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