Have a go at… walking with hawks.
Majestic Sherwood Forest. Known famously as the stomping ground of the legendary Robin Hood, it was also once declared a royal hunting forest, with traditional methods of hunting such as falconry, used to catch your supper.
Stride forward to the present day and you are able to enjoy a similar experience; a walk with a hawk which includes a tour of the forest alongside a modern day falconer.
I joined Loki, a wonderful bay wing hawk – and knowledgable falconer Chris Miller,
together with a group of excited visitors to have a go at walking with hawks.
We were led around a section of Sherwood Forest not always open to the public, with Loki leading the way and Chris enthralling us with fascinating falcon facts.
Loki had free reign of the forest, swooping and gliding through the trees, returning only for a treat or whistle from Chris. It was clear to see the trusting relationship Chris had with the hawk, treating the hawk with utmost respect and care.
Watching this majestic bird in flight was magical, and trying to spot her so well hidden in the trees made a great game for the younger adventurers.
Chris gave a very well-informed and interesting talk – mixing demonstration with factual snippets – and you even got to have a go at flying Loki too. It was all too easy to be distracted by Loki as she flew overhead, but the facts were so interesting, and Chris so entertaining, that you found yourself fully immersed in the experience.
After yet more falcon facts, Chris literally passed the gauntlet and let everyone take a turn at flying the birds.
My favourite part of the day (as you can tell from the picture!); Chris armed me with a piece of chick (not for the squeamish) and holding my arm out straight and proud, I awaited Loki’s arrival. You wouldn’t believe how gentle these intimidating hunters are, as they land softly onto the glove to take their prize. As the group only contained around 10 people, we were allowed to take part more than once – definitely worth the £5 ticket price!
Although the weather conditions weren’t ideal, it did not deter from the wonderful hour and a half long stroll through the forest – although Loki wasn’t too pleased about getting her feathers wet.
After the tour, we were given the opportunity to hold one of the larger birds which Chris is responsible for, his beloved golden eagle, Skye. Only the strongest were able to hold such a colossal bird, and it was fascinating to see one so close.
I would thoroughly recommend a walk with a hawk, as at just £5 (at time of visit) you get to experience a part of Sherwood Forest in a whole new way – and even get the opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent birds. The exercise isn’t bad too – with a slow paced, yet action packed jaunt through the forest.
Your chance to walk with the hawks can be enjoyed as soon as tomorrow, Friday 3 August, with another event planned at Sherwood Forest. Chris will also be there on Wednesday 8 August, and falconry displays will be part of the annual Robin Hood Festival. For more information, see our website.