Friday, 1 June 2018

Urban Exploring - Nottingham

Over the weekend we found ourselves with a couple of hours to spare in Nottingham, so it was time for a little exploring ...

First I wanted to investigate a tunnel. In the mid-1800s the Park area of Nottingham was developed as an upmarket residential area - and this tunnel, leading from Derby Road under the ridge topped by The Ropewalk, to Tunnel Road in the Park, was constructed as one of its entrances.You can enter from either end, or, as we did, via steps leading down, down, down a huge open-air gap in the middle, accessed from just off The Ropewalk. I assume this was created for light and air

I'd seen the 'hole' before but never had time to investigate it. As I started to descend the stairway, I realised it was much further down to the bottom than I'd expected - and I certainly wouldn't want to climb back up!

Getting lower, you can see how the tunnel has been cut through bedrock, and how large it is. It was intended to take horses and carriages, and is easily the width of a modern two-way road.

First we walked downhill to The Park...  the exit was clear, I could see light and greenery at the end of the tunnel and all was fine.

A fanciful turreted house keeps guard over this entrance ..

.. and there are even signs of older dwellings cut into the rock - perhaps part of Nottingham's extensive cave system.

Then we turned round and headed uphill. The central 'light well' is clearly visible but with the Derby Road exit hidden in darkness I was far more conscious of being underground while walking in this direction ... and this is where my fear of caves/tunnels/anything underground started to kick in. Even reaching the central open air section didn't help a lot, so (fighting my instinct to 'freeze') I hurried on towards Derby Road.

This entrance could hardly be more different; in a few yards you've moved from a quiet suburb to a busy main road. Here the tunnel is obscured from view - it emerges in a car park under a block of flats, and from Derby Road it isn't obvious that there's a public right of way through here.

Open skies were definitely needed for a while, so we headed over to Nottingham's first public park, the Arboretum. 

This is another of those 'on my doorstep' places that I've never visited (so two new places to add to my #60things list), as Nottingham is somewhere I go for shopping, theatre or gigs.

It's a lovely, peaceful spot in the heart of the city, hardly five minutes from the big Victoria shopping mall. It has formal bedding, grassy spaces to lounge about or play games on, a small lake and an aviary where wild pigeons seem to tease the captive budgies.

Fergus O'Connor
Chartist and MP for
Nottingham in 1847

Chinese Bell Tower

One of four canon placed around the Bell Tower -
two came from Sebastopol during the Crimean war,
two are replicas to balance the lay-out

Altogether an interesting afternoon exploring somewhere that I thought I knew well! 

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