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Sherwood Forest

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Sherwood Forest
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 03 Apr 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Nottinghamshire,
Walk Type: Woodland
Sherwood Forest
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 4 mile circular trail through the heart of Sherwood Forest, the legendary home of Robin Hood. The walk will give you chance to see the Major Oak, the forest’s most famous landmark, as well as many of the other ancient majestic oak trees which populate the area. Throughout the walk you will see bird feeding stations, making woodland birds such as nuthatches and woodpeckers a common sight.

The walk is relatively flat with just steady slopes in a couple of places. There are no stiles and just a handful of single gates. The surfaces are a mixture of stone and dirt forest tracks, some of which can be muddy after wet weather and all of which can be a little uneven with tree roots in parts. The route would be suitable for rugged pushchairs. There are toilet facilities and a cafe at the start of the walk. Dogs are welcome in the forest and can also be taken on a lead into parts of the visitor centre. Parts of the forest are grazed by cattle and sheep during the summer so take care with dogs at these times. Approximate time 2 hours.

The walk starts from the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre on the B6034 Swincote Road, just north of Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire. There are brown tourism signs to guide you to the entrance. Approximate post code NG21 9HN. Car parking charges apply during school holidays and on weekends and bank holidays (£3 per car per day April 2013). The bus service from Nottingham to Worksop stops in Edwinstowe High Street, which is just a 10 minute walk from the starting point.

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Walk Sections

Start to Major Oak
Start to Major Oak

Start point: 53.2027 lat, -1.0636 long
End point: 53.2044 lat, -1.0724 long

The walk starts from the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre. Stand facing the visitor centre complex gate and turn left onto the path signed to the Major Oak. Keep to the path alongside the fence, following signs to the Major Oak. Continue until you come to an open junction where you will find the Major Oak fenced to the right. As you walk ahead with the tree on the right, fork right to reach the information board.

The Major Oak is an English oak tree estimated to be more than 1,000 years old and thought to weigh 23 tonnes. According to local lore, its hollow trunk was used as a hideout by Robin Hood’s men. However, if Robin was – as legend suggests – active in the 12th or 13th century, this tree could only have been a youngster then, so it must have been another, much older oak that hid the outlaw. Through its life the tree was known first as the Cockpen Tree and then the Queen Oak. In 1790, Major Hayman Rooke, a noted antiquarian from Mansfield Woodhouse, included the tree in his popular book about the ancient oaks of Sherwood and from this point it became known as The Major Oak. For its preservation the oak has slender steel poles to support the weight of the sprawling limbs.

Major Oak to Forest Drive
Major Oak to Forest Drive

Start point: 53.2044 lat, -1.0724 long
End point: 53.2107 lat, -1.0935 long

Continue past the information board and keep following the path clockwise around the fenced enclosure of the Major Oak. Ignore the first path off to the left and on the left you’ll pass The Laughing Tree, a wooden sculpture said to bring joy to the wood.

A little distance further as the fence on the left ends, you’ll reach a crossroads with a public bridleway. Turn left onto this bridleway and soon follow this path alongside an open pasture on the right hand side. As this pasture ends, turn left through a wooden gate onto a narrower path into a sparsely planted section of woodland. (Note this section is sometimes used for grazing cattle and sheep so take care with dogs).

Ahead you’ll reach a fork, keep right here. Following the path meandering through the grazing area and you will eventually come to a gate at the far side. Pass through this and turn right onto the straight forest track.

As you reach the top of the slope you’ll reach another fork – keep left. Eventually you will merge with another track coming in from the right and come to a vehicle barrier ahead. Pass alongside the barrier and look to the left to see a bridleway just before you reach the junction with the major forest drive ahead.

Forest Drive to Centre Tree
Forest Drive to Centre Tree

Start point: 53.2107 lat, -1.0935 long
End point: 53.2017 lat, -1.0931 long

Turn immediately left onto the bridleway which runs parallel with the major forest drive to the right. Follow this path for some distance.

Sherwood Forest today covers more than 1,000 acres and is the remnant of an older and much larger royal hunting forest. The forest is said to have been the home of Robin Hood, a heroic outlaw in English folklore. In the 1200s, popularly thought to be the time of Robin Hood, Sherwood covered about 100,000 acres, which was a fifth of the entire county of Nottinghamshire. The main London to York road, the Great North Way, ran straight through Sherwood, and travellers were often at the mercy of robbers living outside of the law - hence the name ‘outlaw’. A skilled archer and swordsman, Robin Hood and his fellow outlaws known as the ‘Merry Men’, are said to have fought on behalf of the poor, against the strict and cruel regime of the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Continue on this bridleway until you reach the next crossroads with a vehicle barrier on your left. If you look to the right you’ll see another large oak. This is known as Centre Tree and marks the spot thought to be the middle of the old forest.

Centre Tree to End
Centre Tree to End

Start point: 53.2017 lat, -1.0931 long
End point: 53.2024 lat, -1.0647 long

Turn left here passing alongside the vehicle barrier. After just a few paces fork right off the main path, onto the public footpath signed to Edwinstowe passing another vehicle barrier. Follow this path for some distance ignoring any paths off to the left and right.

A little distance in, look out on the right for another large group of ancient mighty oaks, all more than 600 years old. These particularly twisted and gnarled trees act as a complete contrast to the surrounding uniform silver birch and coniferous plantations. Sherwood Forest is a designated National Nature Reserve as it is home to more than 1,000 ancient oaks. Annual visitor numbers are around 350,000.

You will emerge to a staggered T-junction marked with a public bridleway sign. Turn left onto the bridleway which runs along the edge of the forest – you will see open farmland across to the right. The path emerges out alongside a vehicle barrier, keep right for a few paces to reach a crossroads. Go straight ahead at the crossroads and follow this path to reach the Visitor Centre where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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