Nottingham Underground

5th October 2011

The Hand and Heart pub
Nottingham is a brilliant city for many reasons. One of which is its caves. In case you had not heard, Nottingham has an extensive sandstone cave network. More importantly, did you know that you can go to a perfectly ordinary looking pub such as the Hand and Heart on Derby Road and find yourself quenching your thirst inside a man-made 200-year-old cave? Nothing like a bit of cave exploration before heading into town, right?

In fact that is exactly what happened to us some weeks ago when we first ventured out in search of cider and stumbled upon this beautiful old pub, located on Derby Road just past the Ropewalk. Freshers, if you have not made it to the Ropewalk yet, get a bus into town and get off on Canning Circus (the top of the hill) and after a little walk you’ll find it. Anyway, last night we ventured out to the Hand and Heart for their free music nights on Tuesday and have taken a few snaps to see if we can tempt you along.

Before you reach the Hand and Heart, you can hear the fast-paced violin, guitar and bass along with the occasional bit of accordian. When you have had a little boogie in the street you will find yourself in a classy looking pub with an impressive range of real ales and ciders. A few weeks ago I had rosehip cider there. An excellent choice for the lady or gent who likes their cider pink.

The band on Tuesday was joyous, bouncy and sounded a little bit like the soundtrack to a Pixar film (in a good way, honest!). The almost unpronounceable ‘Manière des Bohémiens’ (excluding French students) describe themselves as “the most debauched, ecstatic and downright amazing live band you will have seen for a long while“. Despite an impressive mantra they certainly didn’t disappoint, in fact they fitted strangely well into the atmosphere of the historic pub, part Georgian tavern, part rough sandstone cave strewn liberally with nets of fairy lights, and with an art gallery upstairs. Impressive stuff. The ‘Bohémiens’ are something of a regular feature and will be back again on the first of November for anyone who missed them this time around.

The Hand and Heart is by no means the only place in Nottingham with sandstone-themed décor. The ‘Ye Olde Tripp to Jerusalem Inn’ or ‘the old trip’ sits at the base of the castle and has a very impressive set of caves. It’s a classic pit stop to take any parents or friends you’re looking to impress as you finish your glass of wine or soft drink, or even pint of Nottingham brewed beer in the oldest inn in England. Across the road, ‘The Old Salutation’ holds regular ghost tours in its extensive network of rough-carved cellars and regular heavy metal karaoke upstairs. Further in town there’s ‘The Pit and Pendulum’ with it’s dungeon-themed bar. Its decorations are more along the lines of manacles and chains rather than fairy lights but if that’s your thing then the pit is the place to be.

If you find any more cavernous venues please do let us know! Unless you are being a smart Alec and informing us of the cave tours. These are available in Broadmarsh. Also for any car owners and cave lovers Castleton in Derbyshire is not too far and is full of caves. They even have one you take a boat in. So get your hard hats and your pick axes ready and go explore our wonderful city.