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A Welcome Retreat in Robin Hood Country

Follow in the footsteps of Robin Hood and enjoy soaking up the sense of history and adventure that makes Sherwood Forest unique, says Brian Claridge

The legend of Robin Hood is evident from the moment you drive into Nottingham, with road signs reminding you that you have entered Robin Hood country. Visitors from all over the world flock to Sherwood Forest, the legendary home of Robin Hood. Here you will find the Sherwood National Nature Reserve & Visitor Centre, a 450 acre site, home to the Major Oak (estimated to be between 800 to 1000 years old). You can almost hear the twang of bow and arrow as you enter the forest and the ballad to the opening sequence of the famous television series ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his band of men

Feared by the bad, loved by the good

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood

Did you know?

Starring Richard Greene as the outlaw, Robin Hood and Alan Wheatley as his nemesis, the Sheriff of Nottingham, the black and white TV series was compulsive viewing for millions in the late 50’s.

Robin Hood  Friar Tuck statue in Sherwood Forest (b)

What to expect at Sherwood Pines

Forest Holidays opened a new £10 million site at Sherwood Pines Forest in 2012. The luxury cabins are nestled among 3,300 acres of picturesque pine woodland, with spectacular views of the surrounding forest and grassy woodland glades. There’s cycle trails, woodland walks, adventure activities and children’s play areas and the site is ideally situated for exploring the picturesque woods, villages and market towns of the area.

bikes outside shop (1) (2)

The rooms in the cabins are spacious and the floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room offer a panoramic view of the forest. Everything is modern and elegantly designed. There’s wooden flooring, comfy sofas and cushions, log burning stove and flatscreen TV. The Forest Retreat, the site’s main reception area, has its own bakery, coffee shop and mini-supermarket which sells most grocery essentials. You can also buy logs to burn in your cabin stove, which we did on occasion, although the underfloor heating in our cabin kept us beautifully warm on chilly nights and was thermostatically controlled.

The hot tub on our private decked area was inviting at any time of day and there’s something wonderful about relaxing in the hot bubbles with a cool drink under the majestic pine trees. The spacious teaked verandah also features an outdoor table and chairs for al fresco dining.

You can also pre-order experiences including bike hire, Forest Ranger activities and in cabin pamper sessions with a qualified pamper therapist. You can even have a chef in your cabin, where a professional chef will come along to your cabin and cook lunch or dinner for you while you sit back and watch how it’s done. Other treats that you can pre-order and have delivered to your cabin include champagne and chocolates, pizza pack (pizzas, garlic bread, fizzy drink and ice cream) and the birthday bonanza (birthday cake with candles and champagne).

Did you know?

All cabins at Forest Holidays are designed with the environment in mind. This includes low-cost heating systems and gutters that allow water to flow back into the forest. Forest Holidays is a member of the Green Tourism Business Scheme and are continually looking at ways to improve their green status.

Exploring the Forest

If you are keen to find out about the forest and the wildlife that inhabit the woodland, then it’s worth booking a Forest Ranger activity.  Unique to Forest Holidays, the activities are designed for adults as well as children, and the Forest Ranger accompanies each activity.  These include Dusk Watch Experience. As the sun sets, so the forest changes. Explore the local flora, fauna and wildlife and hear about the eco-structure of the woodland.  There’s also Night Vision Experience, where you are equipped with night vision equipment. This enables you to look for deer, owls and other forest habitants that come out at night. Christine Paulson is the Forest Ranger at Sherwood Pines.  I asked her what guests can expect to see on a Night Vision Experience. “It varies each time. We usually tend to see Fallow Deer, although there’s several species at Sherwood including Roe Deer and Muntjac. We also encounter foxes, rabbits and tawny owls. The Night Vision Experience lasts about an hour and a half and it’s extremely popular with our guests.”

Go Ape briefing (2) (b)

If you fancy trying your hand at something adventurous, such as pony trekking, kayaking, caving and orienteering, Forest Holidays will try and find a local company who provides the activity and book it for you.  Budding Robin Hoods are also catered for at Sherwood, with archery on-site and expert guidance available.  We went along to Go Ape, the UK’s leading forest adventure company with 28 sites in England, Scotland and Wales.  Their site in Nottingham is at the Sherwood Pines Visitor Centre, only 500 metres from where we stayed. We had pre-booked Tree Top Adventure and Forest Segway activities for our sons, both on separate days. The Tree Top Adventure started with the boys being kitted out with safety harnesses, followed by a safety briefing from trained instructors. After this, they were free to climb up into the trees and walk across rope bridges and other obstacles and glide along zip wires. The following day, the boys went back to Go Ape to participate in Forest Segway. This new activity from Go Ape gives participants a chance to ride an electric Segway.  After being kitted out with crash helmets, followed by a safety briefing on how to use a Segway, a group of Segway riders which included our sons, went on an hour long forest safari with the instructor leading the group.

Adam on Segway (2) (b)

Our weekend stay over, we pack our cases into the car and drive slowly out of the forest taking one final look at the tranquil and picturesque woodland that we are leaving behind. We had spent a few relaxing days in Robin Hood country and enjoyed all that Sherwood Forest had to offer.