It was a typical English day—damp and foggy—when I entered Sherwood Forest, the land of Robin Hood. As I explored the royal forest, centuries-old trees stood guard alongside the path. Laden with gnarly knotted limbs, they were the kind of trees depicted in childhood fairy tales and it would not have surprised me if they had come to life to follow me on my walk. I was on my way to check out the granddaddy of all the trees—the Major Oak. Estimated to be 800 to 1,000 years old, this immense tree is the largest in Britain and a site to behold.
Meeting Robin Hood
Continuing my walk, I was fairly certain Robin Hood would appear at any moment. He did, but not in the Sherwood Forest. Instead, he joined me for tea at Thea Caffea, a traditional English tea room in the heart of Nottingham. Watching Robin Hood order a latte seemed a bit out of character, but hey, it was England and the British do love their tea.
The reason for my encounter with Robin Hood had nothing to do with tea—or stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Robin was there to show me the places that were important in his life: like St. Mary’s Church where he sought refuge from the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham.
Robin Hood leads guided tours through the streets of Nottingham—which he graciously tailors to the ages of the participants. My time with Robin concluded with lunch at the oldest pub in Nottingham which dates back to 1189 and has a most unusual name, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. We dined on fish and chips and Robin ordered a pint which seemed to suit his character better than a latte.
While you’re in town, don’t miss the chance to explore Nottingham Castle and its labyrinth of sandstone caves and tunnels. Situated on a high bank of sandstone, the castle commands spectacular views over the city. This historic site is at the heart of the Robin Hood tale and was the starting point for the English Civil War. Guided cave tours beneath the castle wind through medieval passageways and sandstone tunnels as stories of sieges, murder and intrigue are brought to life.
The Non-Legendary Side to Nottingham
There’s more to Nottingham than Robin Hood though and be sure to explore the city when you visit. In the city’s historic Lace Market district, you’ll find Nottingham Contemporary which showcases modern art, the Galleries of Justice Museum and the Capital FM Arena. And when it’s time for dinner, The Larder on Goosegate restaurant serves locally sourced seasonal produce and fine British cuisine.
When you’re ready for more of the legend, the adventures of Robin Hood continue throughout the region. In the village of Edwinstowe, a statue of Robin Hood and Maid Marian stands outside the church where they were married. For a warm hearty lunch to knock off the chill in the air, order the beef and ale pie at the pub in Edwinstowe’s Forest Lodge Hotel across from the church.
Extend your fairy tale experience by spending a night at the edge of the royal forest. Hidden among the trees of the forest, the Sherwood Forest cabins blend harmoniously into the wooded landscape. The property offers a wide range of self-catering cabins ideal for families and larger groups. And if you’re traveling with your favorite furry child, there are also several pet friendly cabins. I spent the night in a whimsical Alice in Wonderland tree house but not before enjoying a bit of stargazing from the warmth of the outdoor hot tub.
By day the Sherwood Forest Pines offers numerous family friendly activities. There are Forest Ranger activities, clay target shooting, a Go Ape ropes course and playgrounds. There are also archery lessons—just in case Robin Hood needs your assistance.
Have you traveled to Robin Hood’s world in Nottingham?
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