I use ‘fanatical’ because anyone who knows me knows that I adore Nottingham as a city and regularly call it my home. I lived here for a total of just under four years as part of my undergraduate degree and it is still very much a part of my life as I do on-and-off live there with my boyfriend and his housemates (when I am not needed in Sheffield).
Nottingham is a city bursting with legends and history with the childhood tale of Robin Hood and his merry men defeating the Sheriff of Nottingham and taking from the rich to give to the poor. It is home to the oldest pub in Britain, is built on a network of 500+ caves that have been used for a variety of trades and during the World Wars.
Our journey starts in the heart of the city as if we had just alighted the train at Nottingham Station and headed into the town centre. The layout of the city centre and its shops orient around the market square where the Council House sits in all its grandeur. (Well, it’s not really a magnificent building, but it is rather large with tall pillars and a clock tower.)
On your way up, if it takes your fancy, you can visit the ‘City of Caves’ inside Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. (I hear you say, “huh?”) Yes, the entrance to this attraction is found on the second level of one of the shopping centres! It is a 50-minute tour of what the caves were used for even back in the 1600s and during the World War. I went with a friend from Canada and we had a cracking time because the group tour guide was very good and entertaining. You can book it in advance or show up and hope there’s space! Adults are £7.95 and under 18s and students are £6.95 per tour.
If you like burgers, I urge you to go to Annie’s Burger Shack for lunch. It is amazing. They have a variety of adventurous flavours and kinds of burgers as well as curly fries!! I remember when my housemates in my second year started talking about it and how popular it was, and it is amazing that four years later it is still in such high demand. It is found at 5 Broadway, Lace Market. After stuffing your stomach with a good meal, it’ll be time to walk it off! When you leave Annie’s, if you turn left and left along the main road you’ll end up in Hockley. As you walk up the hill back towards the town centre there are a few funky charity and vintage shops that you can dive into for a perusal.
Soon enough you will find yourselves in the Market Square. If you are a big coffee fan or at least appreciate coffee, I highly recommend visiting 200 degrees. You can get the drinks to take away to fuel you on your continued journey! All I can say is *mouth drools like Homer Simpson*.
Now, it is time set your sights (and google maps if need be) on the direction of the Castle on the western side of town. On a lower platform to the left of the castle gates, there is a Robin Hood statue which is a great photo opportunity! The castle itself sits on the tallest part of the rock that sits overlooking a 180-degree view south of the city.
To give you a bit of a heads up on the Nottingham Castle’s tumultuous history: the existing building doesn’t look like a castle, it is a stately home. The original Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1194 but was destroyed in 1642 English Civil War followed the defeat of Charles I by John Hutchinson. Ever since it’s been burned down at least once before being turned into a public museum in the late 1800s. It costs £7 to enter and I think it is worth it for the view of the city, but probably only on a day with good blue sky weather. If you didn’t visit the caves in town, there is also a tour run by the Castle for an extra fee, the content is more focused for the use of the caves by the castle rather than the social history of Nottingham. 🙂
Once you’ve had your fill of history, it’s time for one more historic stop: the oldest pub in England! Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem dates back to 1189AD. It is located at the bottom of the cliff of rock which the Castle sits on with the visible half of the building protruding out of the rock.At this point, you may need a refresher and can take a seat in the caves, or just pop in to have a look at its unique structure.
A fun fact from their website: “many people believe the pub is named ‘Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem’ because people made a trip to Jerusalem from here. In fact, the word “trip” does not mean a journey in this case. An old meaning of ‘trip’ is a stop on a journey, like being tripped up, so the inn’s name means a stop or rest on the way to Jerusalem. Why not follow in the pilgrims’ tradition and pop in on your way past the pub for a quick pint or a nibble?”
Now that you are well and truly informed of Nottingham’s history and in some ways, its legacy, with the tales of Robin Hood. It’s time to head out to another part of the city. It’s easy to catch a bus that will take you in the direction of the University of Nottingham’s main campus, such as the 34, 36, 35, i4, and so on. The 34 is known at the campus bus so I recommend that one as it’ll drop you off at a bus stop called ‘East Drive’. From here you can see its iconic building, the Trent building with its clock tower, and the lake below. A walk around the lake is a must. There are some great photo opportunities but also some fun stepping stones to cross at the other end of the lake. In summer, there are rowing boats available to hire between 10am and 7pm for 45 minutes.
For the next part, I’m going to link a map of the campus so you have a better idea of its size and also where to next venture. The direction you need to be heading is up onto the hill, past the Portland Building (which is also the University’s Students Union), and over to an old three story building that is Hallward Library (no. 9 on the map). One of the campus catered student accommodation is to the right of the library, set back behind trees. If you find the sign and a break in the fence, you will discover one of the many secret gardens on campus! 😀
Now the next and final big stop on this whirlwind tour is… Batman’s House!
I’m half-kidding. Wollaton Hall was used at Bruce Wayne’s residence in the film ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and has become a rather popular tourist site. As you are on the university campus, you keep walking in the direction you have been from the lake, to cross the downs – a massive green space – to walk in between Derby Hall and Lincoln Hall (shoutout to the best hall on campus aka I went there 😀 ) to the main road that runs through the campus. From here you turn left and walk along until you see a fenced path on the opposite side of the road leading you further away from campus.
You’ll find yourself by the A52, with a massive gate in the wall of Wollaton Park opposite you. The park itself is big, with its own lake to the left and Wollaton Hall up on a rise to the right. There are wild deer roaming about and normally a lot of squirrels and ducks. It is free entry to Wollaton Hall. Here is where I must be honest, sadly, there is nothing featuring Batman or a similar exhibit. It is a National History Gallery with large exhibits of animals, insects, minerals, etc. Currently, until October 2017, there is a visiting exhibit called the ‘Dinosaurs of China’. Interesting, eh? Afternoon Tea is also available every Sunday between 12:30 and 3pm!
By now your feet may be wanting a rest, I almost guarantee it as you will have walked at least five miles 😀
There are many ways you can spend the rest of your evening doing, most are in the town centre. [It’s worth heading back the way you came into the park and catching a bus from outside the gate, there is a bus route map on the bus stop for you to make sure you end up back in the city centre].
These activities include:
- If you fancy Italian, Nottingham has all the familiar chains such as Pizza Express, Zizzi, Prezzo… but there is also Oscar and Rosie’s Pizza that has very funky pizza names and eclectic toppings. Very good though. Also one of note, Das Kino is a bar but it has ping-pong tables set up bookable for an hour or more and serve massive pizzas. You can play and eat! 😀
- For Asian, Thai or Indian food: there is Zaap, Thaikun, The Cumin (yum), U-canteen (if you don’t mind sometimes seeing whole animals being delivered…), Shanghai Shanghai or Bonzai.
- For more of a tapas set up, there is Baresca and Revolution de Cuba (brilliant cocktails) as well!
- There is also a pieminster if you are a pie fan, or other pubs like Squares, Wetherspoons and Yates if you’re wanting something cheap and cheerful.
I could go on with many more places but I’ll leave that to you to find whatever catches your fancy!
Drinks & Bars:
- In Hockley/Lace Market: the Boilermaker, the Hockley Arts Club, Jam Café, Baa Baa, Bodega, Tilt (a jazz club),
- Bridlesmith gate: Coco Tang, Pepper Rocks, Pit and Pendulum (for a more gothically atmospheric scene),
- The West Side of the Market Square: Revolution de Cuba, 400 Rabbits, Cucamara, Copper.
- 18-Hole Mini Golf or Cineworld Cinema at the Cornerhouse
- A play or show at the Royal Theatre
- Bowling at MFA Bowlplex
- Play board games at Ludorati Café for £1.99 per hour or £6.50 for 4 hours.
And fall into a heap onto your bed after a cracker of a day ❤