Great Rutland Cavern

Nestus Mine

Useful Information

Location: Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. Situated on summit of the Heights of Abraham, reached by ascending Holme Road from the A6 trunk road. Car park at the side of the A6 trunk road, next to the railway station, cable car to the caves.
Open: 13-FEB to 21-FEB daily 10-16:30.
27-FEB to 14-MAR Sat, Sun 10-16:30.
20-MAR to 03-OCT daily 10-17.
04-OCT to 30-OCT daily 10-16:30.
Fee: Adults GBP 11.50, Children (5-16) GBP 8.50, Children (0-43) free, Seniors GBP 8.50, Family (2+2) GBP 35.
Groups (20+): Adults GBP 9.70, Children (5-16) GBP 6.50, Seniors GBP 7.40.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave with lead mining.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System LightSon et Lumière
Dimension: L=200 m.
Guided tours: L=170 m, D=30 min.
Bibliography: Roger Flindall and Andrew Hayes (1976):
The Caves and Mines of Matlock Bath, Part 1 The Nestus Mines: Rutland and Masson Caverns.
Buxton, Derbyshire, Moorland Publishing Co. 72 pp, maps, illus, figs, surveys.
Address: The Heights of Abraham, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire DE4 3PD, Tel: +44-1629-582365 (24 hour hotline), Fax: +44-1629-581128. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1812 opened to the public.


This is one of England's oldest show caves, for it was opened to the public in 1812, when it was known as Nestor Mine. Since then various reconstruction work and improvements have been made and the old mine then became known as Great Rutland Cavern, after the Duke of Rutland of nearby Haddon Hall.

Originally it was lit by candles and Bengal lights. These were later replaced by gas, and today further modernisation has taken place and the cave is now electrically illuminated. This is an extremely pleasant cave in view of the nature of its paths, which are practically level. An artificial passage 240 feet long leads into a vast chamber 300 feet long and 120 feet high. It is claimed that the Romans worked these mines, and that in this vast hall, overseers held sway over the work of slaves - ancient Britons - whose task it was to mine the lead for their Roman masters. Proof of this is inconclusive, but it all adds to the mystery and intrigue surrounding these vast caverns.

Visitors are also invited to dip their fingers into Jacob's Wishing Well, a small pool under a rock overhang, for it is said that by doing this and wishing, the wish will come true.

A recent innovation is the Son et lumiere display in the Roman Hall. The lights in the show cave are dimmed and high above a pageant is acted out. A 17th century lead miner tells of the hardship and dangers in working the mine, then in a passage on the right, another character appears and explains the hazards of washing the lead ore. It culminates with a vivid mock-display of fire setting complete with "smoke" which was so realistic that some of the younger members of our party were terrified and had to be escorted from the area!

One of the most noteworthy formations in the cave is a huge pillar, which looks as if it is dividing and holding up the end of the cave. This is called the Old Oak Tree, and makes a most impressive end to a memorable trip.

Text from: Tony and Anne Oldham (1972): Discovering Caves - A guide to the Show Caves of Britain. With kind permission by Tony Oldham. Update 2001.