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Strolling Through the Glen A sunny weekend at Sherwood Forest and at home

Last weekend we decided to take the unprecedented step of trusting the weather forecast and set off on the 100-mile drive to see Sherwood Forest. Jackie had wanted to see the woodland popularised by the story of Robin Hood for some time, and it seemed as good a day as any to go. It was also an excellent opportunity to try out the child carrier and walking poles I'd recently bought in anticipation of our holiday in the Lake District in May.

Aurora was all kitted up and ready to go.
Arriving at Sherwood
"Golden arrow? And what would we do with a golden arrow? Give it to Alan for a lute string? I could hang it around my neck on a chain, perhaps, and let it stab me in the ribs when I tried to sit." —Robin McKinley, The Outlaws of Sherwood

The drive up was free of trouble, aside from a minor panic when I realised that I'd managed to forget to fill up with petrol. Fortunately I noticed the flashing petrol light just as we were passing a service station, so all was well.

As we arrived we saw that the weather was indeed delightful—perhaps a touch chilly, but it was warm enough for bare arms in the sun. Giving thanks for the rarity of an accurate forecast, we piled out of the car, donned our various footwear and strolled off to the visitor centre.

Plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the sunshine!

Unsurprisingly the place is set up to take advantage of the Robin Hood legend, but it's quite tastefully presented. They don't have people in comical Robin Hood suits with massive grinning heads wandering round, for example. Overall, it's a very pleasant place for a pit stop before taking a stroll round the forest.

Robin Hood and Little John fighting on the bridge.
Robin Hood and Maid Marion were well represented around the place.
Taking a stroll
"And your honour as an outlaw?" "My honour as an outlaw concerns staying alive; and presenting my neck anywhere near the Sheriff of Nottingham, who feels it wants lengthening, runs directly counter to that honour." —Robin McKinley, The Outlaws of Sherwood

We set off along the path to Major Oak, a tree which supposedly sheltered Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Whatever its history, it's an amazing tree—at least 800 years of age, 33 feet wide and weighing an estimated 23 tons.

The trail to Major Oak.

We didn't get too far before deciding that really we should have stopped for lunch along the way, so when we spied a handy picnic bench we snagged it and I trotted back to the car to fetch vittles. The day was a little cold as clouds passed by, but when the sun was out it was a very pleasant picnic lunch.

Aurora was obviously hungry—she devoured her turkey and cheese, and the occasional crisp, and insisted that she was still hungry. Since Michelle was getting a little cold we decided to split up—Jackie and Michelle headed over towards Major Oak while I waited for Aurora to sate her apparently limitless appetite!

Eventually she was finished, and we set off at a pleasant amble.

Michelle and Jackie went somewhere that way.

As we walked there was plenty of evidence that this was a nature reserve—plenty of the older trees had a little help staying upright and climbing was clearly frowned upon.

We didn't get too far, but Aurora was having a whale of a time looking at all the trees, walking on every patch of grass and generally exploring the heck out of everything. It wasn't long at all, in fact, before she wanted a little sit down.

Aurora, still clutching the last remnant of lunch.

It was shortly after this we met Michelle and Jackie coming back from Major Oak.

Major Oak
"The sheriff will be gravely disappointed." "That's the best news I've heard all week." —Robin McKinley, The Outlaws of Sherwood

The main goal of the day for Jackie, aside from seeing Sherwood Forest at all, was to see the Major Oak—that's one more thing ticked off the list!

I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to work out which tree is Major Oak.

And a photo by the sign for good measure.

Yup, we were really there.

So, all in all the day was a success. I was a little worried that Aurora would fuss about going back to the car, but she was quite sanguine about the walk back to the car—I think she was starting to feel a little sleepy. I hoped so, at least, for the sake of a quiet drive home.

Trees! As far as the eye can- Oh, here's the car park.

We got back without further incident except for encountering a large group in Robin Hood costume handing around the visitor centre. I thought it must be some sort of event for children, but apparently it was a wedding party! Takes all sorts, eh? I'm quite glad I decided not to take photos now, that would have seemed a bit weird...

Homeward bound

The rest of the day was also very pleasant and after an hour or so napping in the car, Aurora had enough energy for quite a lot of running about in the garden.

It seemed that springtime had finally arrived!

With all the flowers starting to bloom there was plenty for Aurora to explore. She loved to crouch down and minutely examine every different plant, and then triumphantly tell me what colour it was.

Aurora needed frequent dissuasion from picking the plants.

She was also very interested in a bumblebee that was drifting around some of the plants, but she was sensible enough to heed my warning to keep her hands to herself.

A bumbling bee.

She also wanted her bike out of the shed, but when I retrieved it for her she didn't actually ride it around—instead she wheeled it around and used the carrier on the back to carry some little treasures that she found. Namely some dandelion flowers, feathers and some bark.

Not a bad haul for a few minutes' work.

All in all, then, a very pleasant way to spend one of the first really spring-like days we've had all year.

Created By
Andy Pearce
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