Monday 26 November 2018

Sherwood Forest

Growing up and living in Nottingham, Robin Hood is a legend I've grown up with. Movies, TV shows, and at one time a visitor centre in the city centre, keep the tale alive.

Unfortunately the visitor centre, The Tales of Robin Hood, closed a few years ago and with Nottingham Castle closed for a huge refurbishment you'll need to head a little further for Nottingham's history at the moment.

Around an hours drive north of the city centre sits the world famous Sherwood Forest. Made famous by Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Sherwood Forest is home to one of the oldest trees in the world, the Major Oak, along with ancient woodland that can be dated back to the Ice Age.

Red haired little boy looking at a large oak tree

Keen to keep the legend alive we made a half term visit to Sherwood Forest and it's shiny new visitor centre! Recently taken over by the RSPB, Sherwood Forest has seen a lot of changes and huge amount of investment in the last year!

Exterior shot of the visitor centre

The car park has been relocated and has moved over the road to protect the forest from damage. The new visitor centre offers a well stocked shop with plenty of Robin Hood inspired souvenirs! There's also a very nice cafe with lots of food on offer. A map at the side of the visitor centre helps you pick your route around the forest and we decided to take a walk down to the Major Oak. 

Little boy walking on a woodland path, whilst dressed as Spider-Man and carrying a soft toy

The route is signposted and we easily found our way there. We spent some time looking at the Major Oak and watching the world go by as Joseph enjoyed an ice cream from the nearby van!

Little boy sitting on a fence in front of the major oak tree

The major oak tree, a large oak tree supported by scaffold

Red haired boy looking up at the major oak

Walking back was a slightly different experience and we had some adventures as a sign post (or Daddy's reading of it) sent us near to the old car park and through an area with no path or where nature has already taken it back! I was a little concerned as it was nearing sunset but luckily we found our way back!

Little boy in a Spider-Man costume trying to climb a tree

Little boy walking hand in hand with his Daddy on a woodland path

Little boy standing in a gap of a tree

We then stopped by the cafe and enjoyed hot chocolate and cake! There's a great wall that features posters from the famous Robin Hood films and the full length windows give an amazing view over the edge of the forest and the new outdoor performance area. 

Cafe wall featuring movie posters of Robin Hood films

The new visitor centre and pathways are a great start to a new era at Sherwood Forest but the new centre and the closing of the old one and its car park has been somewhat controversial, especially with locals. So many people have asked what was wrong with the old centre and where is Robin? 

Robin Hood statue

Well, I've visited the old centre with my family and I've taken my Brownies and I personally think, and even as a local, that a new centre was needed. The old one was dated, the toilets always stank and were dirty and I imagine the cost and upkeep of running it were expensive. On looking into it further it's position in the forest is one of importance and the RSPB intend to take down the old centre and let nature take the land back.

The new centre sits neatly in the forest, is eco-friendly and the cafe and it's toilets are super clean! It's still free to visit with the only charge being for the car park if you're not an RSPB member. There's a great new play park with something for all ages too!

Little boy playing on a play park robe bridge

Little boy playing climbing a net onto a play park

Little boy on a balance bar under the watchful eye of his Daddy

Little boy on a slide

Sherwood Forest is an area of great importance, not just to Nottingham or the UK but to the world. It holds the oldest trees and ancient woodland and if we don't protect it for future generations, it simply won't be there for them or will be greatly damaged. 

The RSPB continue to offer plenty of what was offer before including guided walks, events; the same events that have been held year on year and new ones too. Right now there isn't a huge amount of Robin Hood and his men but look closely and there's hint of them.

Statue of Robin Hood and Little John fighting with staffs

RSPB have promised they will feature more but they have to prioritise conservation work first and quite rightly so. Robin Hood lives on at Sherwood Forest and in those that believe in the legend, in those that continue to visit Sherwood, run in the forest and pretend to be outlaws........even if they are dressed as Spider-Man and carrying a toy sausage dog!

Little boy dressed as Spider-Man and holding a toy sausage dog whilst walking on a woodland path

Mummy Snowy Owl

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