This summer we revisited Sherwood Forest , Nottinghamshire, with the younger girls while the big kids were at PGL. Sherwood is a stunning woodland enhanced by it’s link to the legend of Robin Hood. It’s well worth the visit for nature and wildlife lovers as well as those interested in the history and myths and legends surrounding this site. Lots of changes had been made since our last visit, take a look:
Visiting Sherwood Forest
Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre (Sat Nav: NG21 9RN) is located on Forest Corner, Edwinstowe, Mansfield. The car park (Sat Nav: NG21 9QB) is on the other side of Swinecote Road to the visitor centre, so look out for signs when you arrive. The entrance to the main car park is on the B6034, just north of the village of Edwinstowe, between the A6075 and the A616, 20 miles north of Nottingham.
Parking costs £4 per non member and is free to all RSPB members. This includes access to Sherwood Forest and all the facilities so is well worth the money.
Stay at Sherwood Forest
We were actually staying at YHA Sherwood Forest which is located “next door” just a few steps away from the visitor centre. This meant we could make the most of exploring Sherwood Forest and also the village of Edminstowe while still staying in the YHA car park provided. I’ll write more about our stay here soon.
Sherwood Visitor Centre
Since our last visit Sherwood Forest has been taken over by the RSPB, this meant there have been quite a few changes. The biggest change we noticed was the new visitor centre. The modern building is lovely and there is a welcome area, information, cafe, shop and facilities. Personally, I really missed the old fashioned “Sherwood Forest Village” that we walked through on arrival at the old site. Without the Robin Hood Exhibition there also seemed to be far less emphasis on the legend of Robin Hood. We did recognise some old exhibits dotted around the Visitor Centre, Cafe and Sherwood Forest Fun Park but the story of Robin Hood sadly seemed to be untold. Of course the work is ongoing so hopefully we will see “Robin Hood” return to Sherwood Forest in the future.
In the welcome area the kids tried out the pillory. Later on a basket of dressing up clothes and weapons was placed here for the kids to play with too.
We read the information signs dotted about and picked up a trail guide in the Visitor Centre.
Sherwood Forest Trails
There are lots of trails to explore at Sherwood Forest. These vary from short 3/4 mile walk to a longer 4 mile walk. You can cover as little or as much of the forest as you wish.
The Giants Trail
We began on the Giants Trail. This is the chance to walk amongst the “giants” of Sherwood Forest. Look out for the peephole board (as above). Look through the hole and you will see a “giant”, an ancient oak.
There were also symbols on each post with more ideas of what to spot along the way, such as forest fungi.
Hiding in the Trees
Some of the trees had great big hollows, perfect for hiding in (and a photo opportunity!).
The girls said that this hole was too small to fit in, so of course Dave had to prove them wrong.
Have you ever seen anyone so happy to be in a tree?
I think Izzy was a bit worried he wouldn’t get out. We told her we could go back and visit him every year!
The trees are magnificent to look at. Wonderful shapes and sizes, like natural sculptures.
The Robin Hood Trail
We also spotted lots of wooden shields with a word in code etched on them. Caitlyn worked some out but we couldn’t find any information on where to put her answers etc. We realised later on that this trail may have just been left over from the Robin Hood Festival which took place before our visit (sadly this always falls close to but never on the PGL dates when we need to visit). If anyone knows more about this trail please let us know in the comments. We would have been happy to pay for a trail book as the kids love following things like this, especially when codes are involved.
The Major Oak Trail
Next we set off on the trail of the Major Oak. A visit to this special tree is a must when visiting Sherwood Forest. The Major Oak Trail is 1 1/2 miles long and overlaps many of the other routes in the woodlands.
We also spotted ” WANTED! Dead or alive” posters around the forest. These featured notorious outlaws, fugitives and enemies of the crown, such as Much the Miller’s Son. By order of the Sheriff of Nottingham – keep an eye out for his wanted posters on your walks through the forest
I think Isabelle’s favourite part of the Sherwood Forest walks are the Fairy Houses and woodland sculptures. They’re so lovely and make the forest feel even more magical.
We noticed people had left coins in the slots, so gave the girls some “lucky pennies” to add to the fairy houses too.
Wanted: Dead or Alive: “Ivar the Boneless”.
We had lots of fun pretending the shaped trees were other creatures, we saw dragons, dinosaurs, horses and all sorts of animals.
There was plenty of seating around the walks.
The Major Oak
Sherwood Forest is home to the well-loved veteran oak tree the Major Oak, which is known throughout the world for its connection to Nottinghamshire’s legendary hero Robin Hood. Legend has it that the ancient oak not only provided Robin Hood with shelter, it was also the place where he and his Merry Men slept. It is now surrounded by a fence to protect the tree’s roots.
A few facts about the Major Oak:
- The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest has been crowned England’s Tree of the Year in a public vote run by the Woodland Trust.
- The major Oak is a Quercus Robur, the English or pendunculate oak.
- The world famous tree weighs an estimated 23 tonnes, has a girth of 10 metres (33ft) and a spread of 28 metres (92ft) making it the biggest oak tree in Britain.
- The earliest recorded name for the Oak was the Cockpen Tree, dating back to the mid 18th century. The tree became better known as The Major Oak after it was described in 1790 by local historian, Major Hayman Rooke.
- The tree is estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 years old.
Refreshments at The Major Oak
When we reached the Major Oak we were ready for refreshments. We found we were too early and the ice cream van hadn’t opened yet. Thankfully we went for another little wander and then found it open so we could get a much needed drink for us and ice cream for the kids.
More Fairy Houses
As the ice cream van was closed we walked along one of the other trails looking for more fairy houses.
Sherwood Forest feels like such a magical place.
A Geocache at Sherwood Forest
We decided to do some Geocaching while we here. The kids love looking for them. There is one situated quite near to the Major Oak.
It was well hidden but we spotted it.
It was an impressive find too. A large metal box with lots of room for swaps.
We made a swap and chose this stretchy smiley guy!
Nothing to see here!
Back to the Major Oak
By the time we walked back to the Major Oak the refreshments van was open. Izzy was pleased to finally have an ice cream!
As we stood cooling down with our drinks and ice cream, suddenly the sky clouded over and it started to pour. Dave quickly headed for shelter in the trees. He looked so suspicious hiding there! The girls and I couldn’t stop laughing at him. By the time we’d got out our raincoats and put them on the shower was over and the sun came out once more.
Archery at Sherwood Forest
At Sherwood Forest you can have a go at traditional long bow archery, just like Robin Hood. Each time we’ve visited the Forest Archer we’ve found this activity to be very popular with tourists from all over the world- they love Robin Hood!
Caitlyn had a go. The Forest Archer was very patient and encouraging. It costs just £4 for 6 arrows.
Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre
We walked back to the visitor centre and went to the cafe for our lunch.
The statue of Robin Hood and Little John’s fight on the bridge has now been moved to here.
We were pleased to see there were great options for kids and for vegans. I chose a vegan wrap and side salad. We had a lovely lunch here. The only problem was there were lots of wasps around us. There are also lots of benches where you can sit and enjoy a picnic.
Sherwood Forest Play Area
The play area has changed a lot. The previous one was a trail based on the adventures of Robin Hood. I have to say, the new playground is more fun for kids. I’d have liked to have kept both areas though.
The girls loved playing in the play area, it was a good spot for them to stretch and run about after a lot of walking and I appreciated the sit down!
The park gets quite busy during the day but as we were staying at the YHA we came back in the evenings when it was quieter. There was a log arrow swing that we loved to go on together but it was never free during the day.
After a play in the park we went to the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre Shop. Then we went across the road to the Sherwood Forest Fun Park , a small, old fashioned fun fair for younger children. I’ll write more about this in a future post as I realise this post is already photo heavy!
It was a fun, affordable day out at Sherwood Forest. I hope we can visit again in the future and see more of the Robin Hood story returned to the site. We need to being the older kids one day as they’ve never been! Danny would have loved to have visited here as a young boy, I can imagine him now all dressed up running around with his bow and arrows!
Have you visited Sherwood Forest?
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Absolutely loads of fun and the children can run off their energy