In Search of Robin Hood

If you plan to visit the UK this summer, and your travels take you outside London and the usual tourist spots, an underrated and fascinating place to visit is the Midlands town of Nottingham.

The city of Nottingham, in the East Midlands has always been the place most associated with the famous outlaw, Robin Hood. Today, several streets, buildings and public places are named after Robin Hood and his outlaws, most notably Maid Marion way, a wide boulevard named after Robin’s sweetheart, which runs through the center of the city.

Every year, the city hosts a Robin Hood festival, with singing and dancing, games, traditional food and drink, and of course an archery competition. In 2006, the festival runs from July 31st to August 6th. And the city really does boast a full time “Sheriff of Nottingham” whose job is to promote tourism in the city, especially with regard to their most famous resident.

If you visit Nottingham and are interested in the legend of Robin Hood, the place to begin your visit is at the Tales of Robin Hood a sort of Disney style ride through the medieval world of the outlaws. The ride is complete with sights, sounds and even smells of the time. The amusement park also offers the ever popular medieval banquet which is definitely not for the shy and retiring type – here you are expected to leave your table manners and your inhibitions at home as you eat from wooden bowls with your fingers, entertained by jesters and musicians.

Nottingham has a castle too, perched on an outcrop overlooking the city and the distant countryside. At the entrance to the castle, there is a bronze sculpture of Robin firing his famous bow. Parts of the castle date back to the year 1068, and the cliff that the castle is perched upon is a warren of secret passageways. The king at the time Robin lived, King John, also used the castle as a prison for the unfortunate citizens who were captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham – perhaps for not paying taxes, among other things.

Not far from Nottingham, you can still visit Sherwood Forest, where Robin supposedly spent his days hunting the king’s deer, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor and practicing his archery skills. Today, Sherwood Forest is not as wild and extensive as it must have been back in the 12th century, but it still consists of 450 acres of oak and silver birch. The entire forest is strictly protected by the estate of the Thoresby family, and its protection is overseen by the county of Nottinghamshire.

There is a visitors’ center at the edge of the forest, which has an exhibition on Robin and his life as an outlaw in the forest. There are also miles of secluded and beautiful walking trails which take you deep into the forest. Not far from the visitors’ center is a famous huge oak tree measuring over 30 feet around, known as Robin Hood’s tree. The tree is reckoned to be around 800 years old, so it certainly would have been there when Robin was around – although to date nobody has discovered any initials carved into the tree that would settle the matter.

Nearby is the tiny village of Edwinstowe, where the most picturesque and unspoilt part of the forest lies. In the ancient Parish Church of St Mary’s, according to a local legend, Robin supposedly married Maid Marion. And two of the most famous members of Robin’s band of outlaws are supposedly buried nearby Little John’s grave can be seen in the village of Hathersage; and Will Scarlett is laid to rest in nearby Blidworth.

And one of the things you absolutely have to do if you visit Nottingham is to have a drink in England’s oldest pub, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. The pub dates back to the year 1189 and is literally built into the chalk cliffs under the castle walls. Named for the crusaders who supposedly visited here on their way to the crusades in the Middle East, the pub features not only good traditionally-brewed beer, but ancient furnishings and oak beams, and the occasional piece of chalk filling into your drink. Perhaps it doesn’t take too much imagination to picture Robin and his men slaking their thirst with flagons of ale after yet another encounter with the sheriff.


If you plan to visit the UK this summer, and your travels take you outside London and the usual tourist spots, an underrated and fascinating place to visit is the Midlands town of Nottingham.

The city of Nottingham, in the East Midlands has always been the place most associated with the famous outlaw, Robin Hood. Today, several streets, buildings and public places are named after Robin Hood and his outlaws, most notably Maid Marion way, a wide boulevard named after Robin’s sweetheart, which runs through the center of the city.

Every year, the city hosts a Robin Hood festival, with singing and dancing, games, traditional food and drink, and of course an archery competition. In 2006, the festival runs from July 31st to August 6th. And the city really does boast a full time “Sheriff of Nottingham” whose job is to promote tourism in the city, especially with regard to their most famous resident.

If you visit Nottingham and are interested in the legend of Robin Hood, the place to begin your visit is at the Tales of Robin Hood a sort of Disney style ride through the medieval world of the outlaws. The ride is complete with sights, sounds and even smells of the time. The amusement park also offers the ever popular medieval banquet which is definitely not for the shy and retiring type – here you are expected to leave your table manners and your inhibitions at home as you eat from wooden bowls with your fingers, entertained by jesters and musicians.

Nottingham has a castle too, perched on an outcrop overlooking the city and the distant countryside. At the entrance to the castle, there is a bronze sculpture of Robin firing his famous bow. Parts of the castle date back to the year 1068, and the cliff that the castle is perched upon is a warren of secret passageways. The king at the time Robin lived, King John, also used the castle as a prison for the unfortunate citizens who were captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham – perhaps for not paying taxes, among other things.

Not far from Nottingham, you can still visit Sherwood Forest, where Robin supposedly spent his days hunting the king’s deer, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor and practicing his archery skills. Today, Sherwood Forest is not as wild and extensive as it must have been back in the 12th century, but it still consists of 450 acres of oak and silver birch. The entire forest is strictly protected by the estate of the Thoresby family, and its protection is overseen by the county of Nottinghamshire.

There is a visitors’ center at the edge of the forest, which has an exhibition on Robin and his life as an outlaw in the forest. There are also miles of secluded and beautiful walking trails which take you deep into the forest. Not far from the visitors’ center is a famous huge oak tree measuring over 30 feet around, known as Robin Hood’s tree. The tree is reckoned to be around 800 years old, so it certainly would have been there when Robin was around – although to date nobody has discovered any initials carved into the tree that would settle the matter.

Nearby is the tiny village of Edwinstowe, where the most picturesque and unspoilt part of the forest lies. In the ancient Parish Church of St Mary’s, according to a local legend, Robin supposedly married Maid Marion. And two of the most famous members of Robin’s band of outlaws are supposedly buried nearby Little John’s grave can be seen in the village of Hathersage; and Will Scarlett is laid to rest in nearby Blidworth.

And one of the things you absolutely have to do if you visit Nottingham is to have a drink in England’s oldest pub, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. The pub dates back to the year 1189 and is literally built into the chalk cliffs under the castle walls. Named for the crusaders who supposedly visited here on their way to the crusades in the Middle East, the pub features not only good traditionally-brewed beer, but ancient furnishings and oak beams, and the occasional piece of chalk filling into your drink. Perhaps it doesn’t take too much imagination to picture Robin and his men slaking their thirst with flagons of ale after yet another encounter with the sheriff.

Filed Under: Land travel

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