Was Robin Hood real? No one really knows for sure, but the legend lives on, especially in Nottinghamshire, England. St. Mary’s Church in Nottingham where Robin Hood sought refuge from the Sheriff of Nottingham. The church in Edwinstowe where he married Maid Marion. The Sherwood Forest with its gnarly knotted oak trees. This is Robin’s world and there are many ways to immerse yourself in the legendary stories.
Hanging Out With Robin Hood in Nottingham
I first met Robin Hood when he joined me for tea at Thea Caffea, a traditional English tea room in the heart of Nottingham. He ordered a latte which seemed a bit out of character. But 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. He’ll show you too. Robin Hood leads guided tours through the streets of Nottingham—which he graciously tailors to the ages of the participants.
My visit with Robin Hood concluded with lunch at the oldest pub in Nottingham. It dates back to 1189 and has a most unusual name, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. We dined on fish and chips (which I highly recommend). Robin ordered a pint, which seemed to suit his character much better than a latte.
Don’t Miss the Stories of Intrigue at Nottingham Castle
While you’re in Nottingham, 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. But the real stories are underground.
The historic castle 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.
After you get the thrill and chill of murder mysteries underground, be sure to stop by the Robin Hood Lawn and pose for a photo by the statue of the local hero.
The Legend Continues in Edwinstowe
The adventures of Robin Hood continue throughout the region. Remember Maid Marian? 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.
In August each year, the legend comes to life at the annual Robin Hood Festival. You can count on jousting and storytelling as Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham face off.
Walk In Robin Hood’s Footsteps In the Sherwood Forest
Having grown up with stories of Robin Hood, I thought the Sherwood Forest was part of the legend. But it’s real. And when I first entered the Sherwood Forest, the setting couldn’t have been more perfect.
It was a typical England day—damp and foggy. As I explored the royal forest, centuries-old trees stood guard alongside the path. Laden with gnarly knotted limbs, these were the kind of trees depicted in childhood fairy tales. I would not have been surprised if the trees had come to life to follow me on my walk. In fact, I expected it.
I was on my way to check out the granddaddy of all the trees—the Major Oak. Estimated to be 800 to 1000 years old, this immense tree is the largest in Britain and a site to behold. It’s an old fella, but beautiful in its own way.
Keep the Experience Alive by Sleeping at the Edge of the Sherwood Forest
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, which I attempted. It wasn’t pretty and if Robin Hood needs assistance, I’m not the one he’s going to call on.
In summary I have to say, of all the places I’ve visited recently, Nottinghamshire is the place I would most like to return to with my grandchildren. It’s part fantasy, part history and completely enchanting.