Sherwood Forest Country Park with the kids. Robin Hood’s land!
Sherwood Forest is world-famous for Robin Hood. From Disney World to Hollywood you’ll find mentions of the guy from Nottingham who ‘stole from the rich to give to the poor’
But what’s his home land like these days? Well, a lot smaller for a start. Whereas Nottingham (or Snottingham as it used to be known) used to have vast areas of woodland many miles in size, now they’re somewhat reduced in size. However, you can still immerse yourself in some good old fashioned English woodland with a trip to Sherwood Forest Country Park at Edwinstowe, Mansfield.
The visitor centre itself is pretty minimal. There’s a gift shop which is great for Robin Hood lovers, and an exhibition to take a stroll around. It’s quite small, and will probably take most people less than 5 minutes to travel through. There’s a variety of interactive displays including the Sheriff of Nottingham of course, and a few buttons to press which kids always seem to make a bee-line for.
Also in the visitor centre area is a restaurant which advertises Sunday lunches, although we didn’t go in ourselves as we took a picnic. There’s toilets here too.
Further afield, there is a small children’s play area with an open area nearby, which gave the kids an opportunity to play with the Frisbee they acquired at the gift shop.
In a separate area about 10 minutes walk away from here, there is a bit of a children’s fun fair, which remains in place all year as far as I’m aware. The rides here are suited to school age children, with a ghost house, hook a duck, a huge wavy slide and a mini roller-coaster for the younger ones.
My kids decided out of everything they’d rather visit the arcade within the fun fair, where 1 bag of 2p’s kept them entertained for at least half an hour as they mastered their gambling skills on the roulette wheel and the ‘Greedy Gobs’ coin machine. When the coins finally ran out, they spent a good 10 minutes scratching around on the floor beneath the machines finding 2ps which people had lost, improving on their scavenging skills. Incidentally, I didn’t see anyone else’s kids doing this, only mine, so perhaps they’re just strange. We did manage to win a dolphin shaped rubber eventually, which was the highlight of the fair, as the frustration/build up leading to it’s eventual release was quite intense as you can imagine.
I think the best part of Sherwood forest though, despite our newly acquired rubber pet, was the open space and the woodlands to explore. My kids spent hours climbing trees and making dens from random sticks of wood. It’s amazing how much this can entertain them. I spent quite some time enjoying sitting in the sun after my picnic just watching them play.
Next time, I will bring a football, a kite and perhaps a cricket set. The area in front of the fun fair is a great flat area to spend a good few hours letting the kids play and make new friends. There were several families with the same idea so lots of opportunity to meet new kids if your children are into that kind of thing.
If visiting, bring a picnic blanket. There are benches occasionally, but we struggled to find one, so would highly recommend bringing your own.
Another feature of Sherwood Forest Country Park are the great woodland walks you can take the kids on. With a variety of weird and wonderful carvings dotted around the forest, there’s always something for them to see, which makes it all a bit more interesting for them and allows you all some exercise without fear of the constant ‘I’m bored!’ whining we so often hear. My daughter was quite interested in the various ‘fairy houses’ she came across, and although we didn’t actually manage to find any fairies, there was still hope due to the existence of these!
Young kids will love the fact that Robin Hood could jump out from behind a tree at any moment. There are also swords available in the gift shop to take with you on said walk, in case by any chance you bump into the Sheriff of Nottingham. I’m pretty sure for most kids these swords will outlive the visit to Sherwood Forest, as they prove ideal for hitting your brother/sister across the head with on any day of the week.
Last but not least, there is of course the ancient old tree the Major Oak, where legend has it Robin Hood would frequently hang out with Maid Marion. It’s a pretty impressive tree which stands out from every other tree in the forest due to its sheer size and obvious gnarled, ageing branches. These days it’s held up with scaffolding and kept behind fencing to protect it, but at over 1000 years old that’s probably for the best. I wouldn’t fancy my kids climbing this one! A bit too high for my liking!
There’s lots of places to stay near Sherwood Forest with the kids. Take a look at these child friendly lettings from holiday lettings or take a look at these hotels local to Sherwood Forest with family rooms from Booking.com.
My son has created a video of his experience of Sherwood Forest as part of his ‘Olipob’s HoliVlog‘ series. Press play below to see it!