It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever take a trip to Nottinghamshire and not encounter at least one thing to do with its most notorious resident, Robin Hood. Whether you believe the tales of derring-do or not, it’s hard not to get caught up in the whirlwind of wonderful attractions the go-getter in green has helped build. But what of the places that do genuinely claim to have played host to the world’s most famous fugitive? Venture a little further into the realm of Sherwood and you’ll find a much richer story than you bargained for.
Age truly does rule over beauty at the site of the Cockpen Tree, now more famously known as The Major Oak. Experts estimate that the sprawling organism is well on the way to reaching its 1000th birthday, understandably making it the oldest tree in the UK. Hollowed out on account of a particularly nasty bout of fungus many years ago, this beast of a sapling is rumoured to have been the secret hideout for Robin and his Merry Men way back in ye olden days. Though clever types have postulated that the mighty oak may have only been a mere shrub at the time of Robin’s antics, that doesn’t quite stop the imagination jumping straight into fantasy mode on first sight of it. Whether you’re picturing the classic figure of Errol Flynn, the mulleted majesty of Kevin Costner, the comedic charm of Cary Elwes or the world’s most charismatic fox, it’s easy to place each and every one of them under the shadow of this all-natural sanctuary – the perfect place to escape the prying eyes of any bad-tempered sheriffs who happen to be passing by.
Of course, modern day adventurers can choose to delve deeper and deeper into Sherwood’s wonderful thicket, clambering over ancient roots and through twisted branches in order to get a real taste of what life may have been like for the courageous posse as they went about their days in the woodland; you may even pass a few errant statues of the gang on your way around. Head in the direction of the forest-skimming town of Edwinstowe, however, and make a beeline for the beautifully peaceful St Mary’s Church to add yet another layer to the ever expanding tale – for here is where Robin Hood and Maid Marian are said to have been betrothed and made their happily ever afters a reality.
It’s difficult to wrap your head around the fact that one of the world’s greatest legends began life as a simple ballad, especially when you consider that the majority of modern pop songs can’t even inspire you to keep the radio on. But perhaps it was just that everyone’s favourite fabled outlaw had that little something special about him, an extra factor if you will, that sparked something within the consciousness of the masses and propelled him and his band of jolly rebels over the county borders to Derbyshire, onto Disney’s doorstep and far, far beyond.