Sherwood Forest is home to one of the most beloved legends in England, that of Robin Hood, drawing visitors from all over the world to partake in its mystical stories. These 1,045 acres were once part of a much larger royal hunting preserve established by the Normans in the 10th century. Today, these wooded hills, conveniently situated three hours north of London and two hours east of Liverpool, serve as country parks, a nature reserve, private homes, and a tribute to their rich history and literary legend.
The many attractions within Sherwood Forest draw 500,000 tourists each year. Perhaps the most popular of these sites is Major Oak, a large oak tree that has been standing for an estimated 1,000 years. According to legend, Major Oak served as the primary hiding place of Robin Hood. Today, the weight of this massive tree must be supported by scaffolding. In 2005, it was named a natural wonder of England’s midlands by the BBC Network.
Another popular draw to Sherwood Forest is Clumber Park. This National Trust park, open 365 days a year, offers 3,800 acres of rolling hillsides and natural wooded beauty. Notable features include the Lime Tree Avenue, a 2-mile stretch of lime trees flanking the road, and the elegant ruins of the 19th century estate. Clumber Park is also known for fantastic birdwatching.
Rufford Abbey offers a glimpse even further back in Sherwood Forest’s history. This 12th century Cistercian Abbey was converted to a country house in the 16th century. Its ruins remain today, incorporating costumed characters to teach of this building’s long history from Norman times to World War II. The grounds of Rufford Abbey are also open to the public.
Robin Hood Festival
Robin Hood Festival
Every August, Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre near Edwinstowe Village transforms once again into the home of Robin Hood at the Robin Hood Festival. Costumed characters recreate a jovial medieval atmosphere, complete with jousting, period musicians, and jesters. This free festival is one of the most popular annual attractions to Sherwood Forest.