Edwinstowe and Sherwood Forest

A woodland and river walk in the heart of Robin Hood country

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Start: Edwinstowe Distance: 5.8 miles (9.3 km) Climbing: 75 metres
Grid Ref: SK 62593 67037 Time: 3 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Edwinstowe
Start: Edwinstowe Distance: 5.8 miles (9.3 km)
Climbing: 75 metres Grid Ref: SK 62593 67037
Time: 3 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk: The legend of Robin Hood and his Merry Men is one of the most endearing stories in English folklore. This walk follows paths through the fabled forest of Oak to see many places associated with him - the Major Oak, the Centre Tree, and one of the many churches where is reputed to have married Maid Marian. The first half of the walk leads through woodland and the second half goes through more open country beside the River Maun and past an impressive 19th century lodge where statues of Robin and Marian can be seen. There is an interesting difference in plant and animal life in the two types of landscape, and the further contrast of the return leg of the walk through the village of Edwinstowe.

Sherwood Forest Art and Craft Centre, EdwinstoweSherwood Forest Art and Craft Centre, Edwinstowe
The Major OakThe Major Oak

The walk starts from the Visitors Centre of the Sherwood Forest Country Park which covers 450 acres; almost all of what is left of Sherwood Forest. It was originally a royal hunting ground which covered a fifth of the county of Nottinghamshire. famed for its many ancient oak trees, the park is now a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) because of these imposing trees and bacause of the flora and fauna of the forest.

The Major Oak is the largest tree in the forest, and the largest oak tree in England. it is now heavily supported by timber supports. The major Oak is a very popular tourist attraction, being one of the supposed meeting places of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Originally it was known as the Queen's Oak but became known as the Mojor Oak after Major Hayman Rooke, a local antiquary, who lived nearby in Mansfield Woodhouse in the 18th century. Another name for the tree is Cock Pen Oak as cock fighting used to take place under it. The trees hollow can hold many people and once 30 suffragettes managed to squeeze in.

While the forest is renowned for its oak trees, many are now shells, often referred to as stag-headed oaks. There are also considerable expanses of birch - known locally as Lady of the Wood - as well as sycamore, sweet chestnut and pine. In the summer the ground is covered in bracken but earlier in the year spring flowers such as bluebells, primroses and wood anemones are a common sight. The mixed woodland is host to a wide variety of birdlife such as blackbirds, thrushes, redpolls, robins, starlings, cuckoos, tree creepers, woodpeckers and jays. Grey Squirrel are common, Red Squirrel less so. Red Deer and Fallow Deer are also in the forest but often elusive.

On leaving Sherwood Forest the walk continues for a while beside the lovely River Maun before reaching the village of Edwinstowe. Named after the King of Northumbria, he is said to hae fought a battle nearby against King Penda of Mercia in AD 633. Edwin was killed in the battle and buried in the forest until a small chapel was built to house his remains. To this day a cross and plaque mark the site of the now disappeared chapel. The parish church of St Mary is beautiful inside and out and worth a visit on the walk through the village and back to the start.

Acknowledgments: Text derived from the Out and Out Series; Discovering the Countryside on Foot. Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia.

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