The legend of Robin Hood fills Sherwood Forest in the north of Nottinghamshire, England. With its towering oak trees and rolling woodland pastures, this is a quaint place for visitors to get back to nature and wander through indigenous English landscapes. But most visitors are here for the mythical stories, celebrated at an annual Robin Hood Festival and the ancient oaks identified as the hero’s favourite hideouts.
The forest rises south of Worksop and north of Mansfield, a small remnant of what used to be a huge royal hunting ground. It’s said that the Major Oak tree was where Robin Hood and his merry men would hide, and while the story is mostly fictional, there’s no denying that this is an impressive sight. It’s one of many towering oaks that can be seen on the walking trails through the forest. The week-long Robin Hood Festival takes place every year, with characters dressed in medieval attire and plenty of entertainment from a past era, including jousters, fire eaters, jugglers, rat catchers, alchemists. A more permanent fixture beneath the canopy is a collection of local birds that includes nightjars, woodlarks, and hawfinches.
The Visitor Centre is a ten-minute walk from the village of Edwinstowe and contains detailed information on the walking trails. Buses from Nottingham, Worksop, and Mansfield stop in Edwinstowe, and there is ample parking at the visitor centre. Mansfield has the closest train station. Gates to the forest are usually closed just before sunset.
The exact origins of Robin Hood are unclear, but he is the hero in poems and ballads from the 14th century onwards. With his working class roots and mantra of “robbing from the rich and giving to the poor”, he was already a legend by the 15th century. His story has been reenacted in Robin Hood games, a tradition that dates back over 500 years.