Woodland Wonder: Discover 6 woodland walks around Sherwood Forest
Sherwood Forest and the surrounding area is a legendary place to explore with kids, the biggest draw is the Major Oak, the 800 year old tree Robin Hood is believed to have hidden in, but there are many more woodland walks to choose from. Having lived in the area for ten years, today I’m picking the walks that have stood the test of time for my family.
Hide out like Robin in Sherwood Forest Country ParkYou can learn about the legend of Robin Hood in an exhibition at Sherwood Forest, buy Robin Hood themed things in the shop - perfect if your little ones want to really get into role - eat in the cafe and marvel at the incredible trees. There are a number of routes you could follow on the well-marked tracks but most people head for the Major Oak. It is awe inspiring when you sit and think how old a tree is and what it has experienced. We loved reading all the stories and legends about the tree from over the years, Robin Hood is just one of many things this tree has seen.
Sherwood Forest is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) so the paths are marked and you can’t wander freely, but there is still that magical feeling only an ancient forest can evoke, here the trees grow like gnarly wild things, oozing character like living sculptures, and when they die their giant carcasses are left to become homes to insects.
There are plenty of pushchair friendly routes, but for a bigger family challenge, Ordnance Survey have a 5.5 mile route which takes you to see the Major Oak, following Robin Hood Way before circling round the Blackpool and Cabin Plantations. Tie your walk into the Annual Robin Hood Festival, usually the end of July, early August, for extra merry fun!
Robin Hood's Major Oak Treasure TrailRobin Hood's Major Oak self-guided themed Treasure Trail is a walking treasure hunt through the town of Edwinstowe - where legend has it that Robin Hood married Maid Marian in St Mary's Church - into the heart of Sherwood Forest. Follow the 2.5 mile Trail route, keep your eyes peeled to search out the answers to the clues which can be found on statues, buildings or structures within the area, all whilst learning about the legend and the history of Robin Hood. Most suitable for children 9 and above.
Hunt Gruffalos in Sherwood PinesDown the road at Sherwood Pines, which is owned by the Forestry Commission, there are two trails perfect for kids. The one-mile Dragonfly Trail is an all-weather surfaced trail, suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. This walk takes in some of the oldest pine trees in the forest, circles the superb playgrounds and den building area and has seating and a picnic bench along the way and at the Dragonfly Pond. If your kids want to roam off-road, the 3-mile Nightjar Trail is an unsurfaced trail which follows the Dragonfly Trail to begin with and then takes you through a variety of the habitats within the forest, ranging from mature pine to lowland heathland.
Grab a Forest Activity bag to enhance your visit or download the Children’s University ‘Discover Your Forest’ activity. Or experience the brand new Gruffalo Spotters trail by downloading the augmented reality Gruffalo Spotter’s app.
Find out lots more about how to make your visit more educational here.
Why not tie your visit in with the amazing range of events in the forest, from concerts, to living history camps or ranger-led walks and craft activities. You can also enjoy Go Ape, cycle hire or wild running tracks.
Bluebell Woods at Rufford Abbey Country ParkRufford Abbey is a wonderful place to run wild, with lovely pushchair friendly walks through bluebell woodland in spring. When they were small, mine always loved watching the cars splashing through the ford at the top circle of the walk and returning to the sensory garden and the Telly Tubby land-esque Leafy Children’s Play Village with its tunnels and sandpits.
Picnic under the trees at Clumber ParkNational Trust owned Clumber Park offers 3,800 acres of parkland and gardens to walk in, woodlands, a lake and a Woodland Play Park. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic too, with stunning hidden glades and trees to shelter under.
Byronic Newstead Abbey‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’ Romantic poet Lord Byron is famous the world over as a passionate lover, a political revolutionary and a man who inspired the Greeks to victory over Turkish rule. His old and ruined pad, Newstead Abbey, is a great spot for kids to run completely wild too. Grab a ‘Newstead Tree Trail' full of interesting information about some of the trees, including Byron's Oak. Head for the Japanese garden and let the trees and water features calm your mad, bad adventurers before heading to the cafe to refuel and watch the peacocks.
Have you been down to the woods in Nottingham recently? Let us know your favourite woodland walks in the comments below?