East Midlands airport is located in the heart of England, from where three big cities can be approached: Leichester, Derby and Nottingham. Nottingham is the best known from the three cities, thanks to Robin Hood mainly. Everyone knows the Robin Hood legend, about the hero of the people, the outrider thief who takes away from the rich and gives it to the poor. No matter what the truth is about the story of Robin Hood, Nottingham and the Sherwood forest is the best place to get to know more about the legendary swordsman and excellent archer, Robin Hood. About the legend that several fictionists and film producers elaborated.
Where else could the tour start than the place in the center of the Robin Hood story; Nottingham Castle, where Robin’s biggest enemy lived.
Fotó: Arran Bee
Nottingham Castle, tissued with mysterious underground tunnels and built on a cliff, hosts the Local Lore Museum. The castle’s history goes back to the time of the Norman conquer; it later played an important role during the English civil war, then it got almost completely demolished after the execution of Charles I. It was reconstructed to its current form in the 1800’s, and it operates as a City Museum since 1875; today it has exhibitions about Nottingham’s past.
Among several memories about the legendary Robin Hood, the most popular is the statue standing next to the castle, with which thousands of people pose for a picture every year.
Fotó: Dovydas Čiomėnas
An English tour’s can’t miss stop is a real English pub, especially if it’s the oldest pub in the country. Though the competition is tough, and a lot of cities consider their pubs the oldest, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem at the bailey of Nottingham Palace with its establishment in 1198, is for sure among the first ones. The building deepened halfway in gritstone still has the original, 12th century ambience inside and outside, and received its name from the soldiers starting their way on crusade to the Holy Land, but dropped in for a drink first.
In fact, no one states that Robin Hood really existed, but everyone believes in him. At least in Nottingham, everyone sticks to the legend of the poor hero, so it’s not surprising that the city has a real, full-time Robin. Actor, Ezekial Bone goes around the street with an arch on his back, and beside photos, during the Nottingham walking-tour led by him, we can get to know the city’s history, and Robin’s adventures. In the evenings after “work”, we have a great chance to meet him in civil life at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.
Fotó: David Skinner
Under Nottingham there’s an expanded cave system, which was grooved in the ground of the natural gritstone in the Middle Ages; serving as a tanning mill and accommodations that time, and of course it made a good place for Robin and his team to hide and escape. In the 17th and 18th century it mainly served as a stock, as its temperature was ideal for storing beer, and during World War II it functioned as a shelter.
Robin Hood Trail stretching 50 kilometers long between Nottingham Castle and the Sherwood forest, passes by several sights connected to the Robin Hood legend; but the top of the road is definitely the famous Sherwood forest, Robin Hood’s empire.
The forest is full of 500-1000 years old, giant, fairy tale-like trees, with the thousand-year-old Major Oak the best known, which, according to the legend, served as accommodation for Robin Hood and his team. The famous tree lies a 10-15 minutes’ walk from the Sherwood forest’s Visitor Center. The world-famous oak’s weight is around 23 tons, it’s 28 meters high and with this, it’s the biggest oak in Great Britain. The tree is strictly protected, so it’s fenced off from visitors, this way protecting the roots of the huge tree, so it can stand on for many years more as the iconic memento of the Robin Hood legend.
The Sherwood forest really reduced during the centuries, so today it’s a strongly protected reservation area, which we can explore on assigned walking and biking trails.
At the edge of the forest, in the heart of the charming village of Edwinstowe stands St. Mary Church, where Robin Hood married Marian. The church today is surrounded by buildings, but back in the time of Robin Hood, the Sherwood forest reached downtown.
Though Robin Hood is manly connected to Nottingham, we can find hints to the legend of the outriders in the area of the neighboring Derby too. For example, not far from Derby is the Robin Hood Cave, where they must have kept the values stolen from the rich. And if you get exhausted from the tour, let’s have some rest in Derby; the city is famous from its nightlife, so you will have the chance to have fun. Drop in to some of the English pubs for example, where gross pork sausage with creamy mashed potatoes and spicy sauce makes a perfect dinner with a jar of beer.
And if you are truly a fan of Robin Hood, it’s worth to plan your trip to August, as the most appealing event of the area is the one-week-long Robin Hood festival held every year, with all the supplements of the Middle Ages, knights and court clowns.