Creswell Crags – a museum in Derbyshire like no other

Creswell Crags - a museum like no other

Creswell Crags is a museum like no other. Set on beautiful grounds with an adventure playground, a gorge, visitor centre, gift shop and coffee shop – what makes this truly special is the caves. We went for a really memorable day out, including a cave tour.

Creswell Crags is a spectacular magnesian limestone gorge on the border between Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire. Explore the caves, museum & visitor centre.

Cresswell Crags has had residents living in the caves since the Ice Age and they have left their mark.

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In the museum are the artefacts of what has been found in the caves and around the gorge – there are skeletons of hyenas, woolly mammoths, lions and hippos! Who knew that these animals used to live in Britain?!

For Where to find Hippos in the UK check out this post.

There are also tools from the stone age (our son was fascinated with the spear heads) and artwork; including the incredibly rare carving of a horse on a rib. Creswell crags has international significance; it marks the northernmost evidence of human habitation that has been found in the world during the Ice Age! It is also the most remarkable site for Ice Age artefacts in Britain.

Creswell Crags - a museum like no other

Another of the caves (which we didn’t see) is world-famous for it’s cave art – the oldest in the UK. It features images of bison, reindeer and birds, among other things.  Having had such an amazing experience of the cave we visited (the Robin Hood Cave), we are keen to return again to experience the “Church Hole Cave” to see such ancient human history with our own eyes. We would love to return when our 4-year-old son is old enough to go into the caves.

Creswell Crags is a very family friendly day out, with lots of green space to explore, a stream to splash in, a circular walk around the stunning gorge, a picnic area and a prehistoric animal themed play area. Our sons liked climbing on the Woolly Mammoth best.

There is a coffee shop serving really lovely fresh food and beverages. (At the moment, because of COVID-19, you have to eat at tables outside on the terrace rather than indoors).

Opening Hours and Cost

Cresswell Crags is a public bridleway and therefore open all the time; but the museum, visitor centre and cave tours operate from 10am-4.30pm throughout the year.

The cost of the trip depends on what you do. Visiting the Creswell Crags grounds and gorge are free, as is the visitor centre.

There is a parking charge of £4 for 3 hours or £6 for all day parking. And blue badge holders can park for free.

If you wish to visit the museum (which we highly recommend!) then it is free for children, £2 for concessions and £3 per adult.

Creswell Crags - a museum like no other

Cave Tours

The cost of cave tours vary depending on which cave you visit, how many are in your party (household/bubble with a minimum of 2 people and maximum of 6), and whether you go for just the cave tour or a package. The package includes the cave tour, parking, a drinks token for each person on your tour, entrance to the museum, a souvenir postcard and pencil and a 10% off birthday party voucher.

Depending on what you go for, cave tours and packages prices vary from £30- £80. You can book online and the pricing and what is included is very clear on the website.

Currently adults must wear a mask while inside the cave to comply with COVID-19 guidance.

Children are allowed on the cave tours but they must be over five years old and wear a hard hat.

Creswell Crags - a museum like no other

Was the cave tour worth it?

The cave tour was without a doubt one of our most memorable, educational and adventurous family experiences to date. Our smaller children (aged 4 and 1) were looked after by grandparents while mummy, daddy and our eldest (aged 6) went exploring in the Robin Hood cave.

Our tour guide, Simon, brought the Ice Age to life for us. He had such expert knowledge of the era, was willing to answer questions (of which our enthusiastic son had many) and made the tour very interactive. Simon used props such as a timeline, replica skeleton heads, printed art work and replica stone age tools to make learning about the Ice Age accessible, hands-on, and exciting for a six year old. Simon even wore a woolly mammoth tail (and encouraged our son to wear one too). It really was great fun.  

One of the best moments was when Simon got our son to put his hands out to feel a hidden object (which was hidden under some faux animal fur)… when Simon revealed what it was he was holding, it was a real life lion skull! Our son was absolutely fascinated.

The Robin Hood cave has several sections to explore, and parts of it are pitch black; which we discovered when we all turned our torches off at the same time. We learned so much about the Ice Age but also about the recently discovered witchmarks.

Dating back to the 1500s, the cave has graffiti from when local villagers used to store their food in the cave to keep it fresh. They would carve “witchmarks” which were religious signs to ward of evil spirits. There are over 300 witchmarks in the Robin Hood cave, which makes it the location with by far the most witch marks in the UK. It’s an eerie, yet fascinating thing to behold – especially by torchlight.

Creswell Crags - a museum like no other

Our verdict?

We would 100% recommend going to Creswell Crags for a great trip out. Going on a cave tour should go on your bucket list, as one of those experiences you must do with your children.

It’s a great use of money. Both because it’s a brilliant trip out, but also because by going on a tour you are supporting the conservation of one of the most ancient historical sites in Britain. It’s a win-win for everyone. 

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Cathy who is married to Scott and has three lively little'uns. Aged 5, 3 and 1.

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