Exploring Sherwood Forest with the Ranger
Nottingham’s Sherwood Forest is without doubt one of the most famous woodlands in the world, and we think that the legend of Robin Hood had something to do with its world-wide popularity.
Nowadays there’s much going on in this legendary forest. You can enjoy its green surroundings in several different ways. You can stay the night at the Forest Holidays in one of their luxurious cabins with Jacuzzi, you can enjoy a segway ride, let your inner adventure junkie self out at Go Ape, or you join one of the resident Rangers and explore the wild side of Sherwood Forest. We chose to do the latter, and were really excited to meet the Ranger and learn more about Robin Hood’s natural habitat.
Kinga – I was really looking forward to our visit to the majestic Sherwood Forest and exploring it with a real Ranger. I think we were all very curious of how the ranger will look and what secrets of the forest he’ll reveal to us.
When we arrived at the reception of Forest Holidays, the holiday feeling overcame me right away. In Nottingham we’re lucky to have Sherwood Forest at our doorstep, whenever you leave the city and enter Sherwood’s boundary it feels like you’re in a completely different world and a holiday feeling kicks in. It felt really relaxing and calm.
We were greeted by the Ranger himself, John, who was a true character. With no time to waste we began our exploration, starting with learning about the greenery nearby and its medical and functional purposes. We tasted some wild berries, which to be honest, were sweet and way better than the ones we buy in shops. We picked up and learned the types of cones and why sometimes we see them lying around half empty – to our surprise cones are a delicacy for squirrels and they eat them similarly to us eating apples (biting around and leaving just their cores). I was also pleased to pick enough cones for a lovely Christmas table decoration.
As we continued walking the extensive greenery began to surround us even more to finally swallow us completely. . .
I felt like true explorer, with an occasional twig smacking me in the face as we made our way through the bush. Our tracking skills were put to the test as we were spotting deer hoof prints and paths they created as they were making their way through the forest. We’ve also learned that deer are creatures of habit. They like to take paths they’ve walked before but stay away from the ones created by humans, even if staying away means a metre or two to the right.
John also showed us how to light a fire using just a piece of flint. As you may expect, it was not as easy at it looks in the movies. It took us good few tries before the fire started, to then be put down by one little blow of wind – so disappointing. It was then that we discovered keeping fire alive is more difficult than starting it. After few minutes we finally managed to get our fires going, John even boiled some hot water over his. We’ve also built our very own den – a perfect survival skill. John told us which trees we should avoid when choosing a place for our den.
The highlight for me was the nettle and pine teas brewed from the freshly picked ingredients at the end of our exploration. I really enjoyed both teas, they’re also really good for you. We also tried some forest delicacies – dried bugs – which tasted quite. . . salty, a bit like crisps I would say.
Alistair – One of the great things about living in Nottinghamshire is how easily you can leave the city behind, and head out to some amazing scenery.
We took a 30 minute train up to Manfield and then a quick taxi into the heart of Sherwood Pines – an amazing place of towering trees and adventure.
At the heart of the forest you’ll find a number of cozy log cabins tucked between the trees, and if you’re lucky enough to stay in one, you can learn a little more about the forest by taking part in a Ranger Walk.
The ranger who met us was a real character, and packed with fascinating bits of information and tips, should you find yourself lost in the forest. From which flowers to eat, and which to avoid, to tracking down deer – we enjoyed a crash course in forest survival and foraging, which took us on a ramble through some beautiful forest scenery.
The highlight had to be the part where we were handed some flint and told to build our own fires from scratch. Using bits and bobs from the forest floor, we quickly realised that keeping a fire going in the great outdoors can be no easy feat when you have to find and gather the materials yourself.
We all managed to conjure up respectable looking fires, and it quickly became competitive as we willed our fires to grow.
Back at the Forest Retreat, we sat back in the Nottinghamshire sun and enjoyed a cup of freshly foraged nettle tea and pine tea, while munching on a few crispy bugs as if it was the most natural thing in the world – the forest will do that to you!
Sophie – Here at Visit Notts we spend a great amount of time showing off the brilliant things to do in Nottinghamshire, so the opportunity to get out and experience some of these places ourselves is always well received. When our manager kindly suggested the three of us should get out of the office and enjoy a bit of the lovely summer sunshine, it was greatly appreciated!
We were to travel up to Sherwood Pines in the heart of Sherwood Forest to spend the afternoon with a ranger. Quite frankly, I wasn’t exactly sure what a ranger did and therefore our activities for the afternoon would be quite a surprise, but always happy to try something new, I was rather looking forward to it.
It had been a little too long since my last visit to Sherwood Forest, so as we neared Sherwood Pines I got a small buzz of excitement – the kind you feel as a child when you first spot the sea on holiday. Despite seeing photos every day of this magnificent part of the county, the dense wall of tall pines was still a majestic sight to behold in person.
Within minutes of meeting our guide for the day it was clear that the afternoon would be a fascinating and informative adventure. An ex-stuntman and radio presenter, John-the-Ranger had plenty of stories to tell, each woven with plenty of humour and interesting facts which kept our little band of woodland rookies entertained throughout the day.
The sun dazzling and blinking at us through the trees, we set off through the estate whilst John pointed out the properties of various wild plants. His information transformed the forest as we passed through it, and at once it became a medicine cabinet, a supermarket, a perfumery and more. We spotted squirrel tables, tasted fresh wild blackberries and traversed deer paths which cut through the thickets of bracken. I was struck by how much would have gone unnoticed had John not been with us.
A little later, in a clearing in the woods, we set out to create a shelter and each build a fire. With John’s guidance and a handy pile of pre-chopped branches (we weren’t going to ravage the forest for our brief shelter!) we made quite a good job of it, however it was Kinga and Alistair who mastered the fire! Thankfully, if worst came to worst they agreed I could share.
We were all a little sad when the afternoon came to a close, but spent half an hour longer with John chatting over some tea of pine and nettle, plucked straight from the forest, and rather daringly trying a few dried bugs. (They were crunchy and tasteless if you are interested!) I’m still surprised we all agreed to try a few – a few hours in the forest will obviously change one’s preferences!
Apart from being tonnes of fun, this brief foray into woodland survival made me reflect on modern society, its intricate organisation, and how our ancestors relied on these basic skills of survival every single day. Although I will probably still be doing my hunting and gathering in the supermarket, I left the forest a little more appreciative of the ease of our age, and hungry to learn a little more in the future.
Take advantage of a great Summer offer at Forest Holidays – book a cabin with an 18% discount using code – SHERWOOD18