During these dog days of summer, I'm starting to dream of crisp autumn air and colorful tree foliage....which makes me pine for a stroll through the lovely and magical Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. As you walk the forest paths, especially in the early morning or near dusk, how can you help but imagine Robin Hood, his merry men, and Maid Marian darting amongst the trees, eluding the Sheriff of Nottingham?
In the Middle Ages, Sherwood Forest covered about 100,000 acres; now it covers only 1,045. The name "Sherwood" means the woodland belonging to the shire. After the Norman Invasion, the area became a Royal hunting forest for many Norman kings. Indeed, "Forest" was a legal designation, and receiving such a designation, required the land to fall under the Crown's laws.
As for Robin Hood, scholars debate whether his legend is entirely fictitious or based on an actual person--or on a compilation of many similar persons who were "good" outlaws. Most believe, however, that the tale is fiction. Either way, the story of Robin Hood captures our imaginations and endures.
What's happening at Sherwood Forest now?
The annual Robin Hood Festival, at the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, is currently in full swing, so now is a fabulous time to drop by. The festival started Monday, August 13, and concludes this Sunday, August 19. Family-oriented activities abound. The kids will love it. (See video of festival below)
How to get to Sherwood Forest?
The closest big town to Sherwood Forest is Nottingham (in the county of Nottinghamshire), about 125 miles north of London, and can be reached by train, bus, or car. (The train trip takes about 2 hours.) Then, from Nottingham, the easiest way to reach Sherwood Forest is to take a bus to Edwinstowe, in the heart of Sherwood Forest and the location of the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre. (Take Stagecoach bus #33 or #36; the buses travel from Nottingham to Retford, but stop, about midway, at Edwinstowe.)
Edwinstowe is a lovely, historic village with unique shops, eateries, butchers, bakers, and a newsstand. The village is very walkable, but taxis are available too. (Do have the driver quote you a price first, however.) The Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre is a mere 2-minute walk from Edwinstowe High Street.
The Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre
The Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre houses exhibits about the forest and Robin Hood and offers a restaurant and gift shop. Numerous trails into the forest, both easy to walk and more strenuous ones, begin at the Centre. The most popular trail takes visitors to "Major Oak," a massive, 800-year-old tree in which, according to legend, Robin Hood and his men used to hide. The tree is so huge, scaffolding now supports its gnarled limbs. Admission to the Centre is free.
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<---- Video of Robin Hood Festival at Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre