Enchanting Escapes in Robin Hood Country
While the city offers its diverse culture of shopping, night life and international cuisine, sometimes what we really want from a weekend away is to escape the hustle and bustle and retreat into a calmer, slower way of life. Nottinghamshire has a great balance between urban cool and country charm, with the north of the county full of rolling hills, legendary forests and great activities.
R O B I N H O O D C O U N T R Y
We all know the story of Robin Hood and his exploits, but what of the ancient sprawl of mighty oaks that make up Sherwood Forest?
Before the Ice Age the area has been understood to have been inhabited by prehistoric man, and was the most northerly accessible point in the Europe, blocked by huge glaciers to the north. At the curious site of Creswell Crags archaeologists have unearthed tools, cave paintings and animal remains, patching together a fascinating story which can be discovered in the visitor centre at the site.
Sherwood, meaning ‘the shire belonging to the wood’, was once a royal forest and hunting ground for many hundreds of years. The importance of timber and venison meant these areas were highly protected by rangers, but outlaws roamed the forests, stalking the road from York to London to prey on travellers.
Over time, parts of the area were sold off to the gentry, and eventually these grand estates became what is now known as The Dukeries. Many of these opulent houses and grounds are now country parks and heritage sites such as Clumber Park, Newstead Abbey, Rufford Abbey, Hardwick Hall, and Welbeck which the public can enjoy.
If it’s Sherwood Forest you want to explore, head to the Sherwood Pines Forest Park to get some tips to start you off. They offer adventures by foot, bicycle, and even through the air at Go Ape. You can visit The Major Oak, try your hand at archery and try lots more activities to get you feeling immersed in the wildlife and history of Sherwood.
S T A Y
There is quite a selection of places to rest your bones around the north of Nottinghamshire. From cosy country cottages overlooking rolling hills, to stylish and remote woodland cabins where you can feel truly removed from the everyday.
Just a stone’s throw from Sherwood Forest is The Forest Lodge, a traditional 17th century coach house turned hotel in the sleepy village of Edwinstowe. The award-winning bar, complete with wooden beams and an open fire is a delightful place to relax after a day’s rambling through the woodland.
If you’re looking for a simple self-catering option, another great spot to stay is the Rose & Sweet Briar Cottages just outside of the historic market town of Newark. Along with a cosy interior, beautiful views and reasonable prices, this is a great base to explore the historic market towns of Newark and Southwell nearby.
C U R A T E Y O U R O W N N A T U R A L P A R A D I S E
While you might not be able to recreate the wild beauty of the forest, there are a few places to scope out in the area if you want to curate an exquisite green space in your own back garden. Pure Land Japanese Garden and Meditation Centre is a truly unique spot to relax and unwind. Complete with its own magnificent walk through crystal garden and an array of exotic plants, you can wander over the bridges and brooks and feel as if you’re in a world far away. If you’re visiting in August or September try and catch their magical Lantern Lit Evening events where the gardens are illuminated with traditional Japanese lanterns.
When you come back to Earth we suggest jumping in the car and heading to Reg Taylor’s Garden Centre, Tea Rooms and Swan Sanctuary in Southwell where you can find oodles of inspiration for transforming your garden, enjoy a peaceful afternoon tea in their ambient and tasteful café, and wander the grounds which are dotted with sculptures and waddling swans.
D E L I C I O U S T R E A T S
Although in the countryside it can be divine to be free of consumer urges, there are still a few places to spend your money and get something special in return. There’s something about those classically British makeshift picnics, often spent hiding from drizzle in the car, that just make the food taste amazing. Of course we hope for sun, but either way we recommend getting your snap at Gonalston Farm Shop which provides award winning local produce, including hams, fish, bacon, cheeses, nibbles and snacks that will have your mouth-watering.
For a delicious evening meal, make your way to The Ram in Newark, locally thought to be one of the best restaurants in the county. With décor seamlessly blending rustic and classy, a spacious beer garden and a mouth-watering diverse menu, you’ll leave relaxed and indulged.
If you prefer something completely different, a memorable time will also be had at Castle Barge which serves locally sourced ales and traditional pub food from its quaint decks on the River Trent.
Robin Hood Country is an enchanting part of the British countryside and within a weekend you can find yourself relaxed, revived and imbued with its magic. To share your adventures with us, find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and connect using our hashtag #lovenotts.