Monday, 27 February 2012

It's very dark in Sherwood Forest at night

I was quite keen to explore Robin Hood country, so when the Youth Hostel was offering £10 beds, I jumped at the chance. It's just a shame that they only had one night for me, but never mind I had two good days walking out of it. Friday was 17 miles and Saturday was 13.5. The hostel is a purpose built building on the edge of Edwinstowe village and close to Sherwood Forest Country Park and the Major Oak.
The Art and Craft Centre is housed in a converted coach house and stables, next to the hostel. It is the former Edwinstowe Hall. There are eleven craft studios enclosed by a glass roof foyer, and five more studios outside with a picnic area.
This fabulous steel gate is at the left hand side of the building, the art work is quite amazing, I love it.
Before I start my walk I need to do the tourist bit and visit the Major Oak. This tree is thought to be 800 years old. It's trunk circumference is 33 feet and it's branches spread to 92 feet. Steel poles have been erected to support the sprawling branches.
Off I went to explore some of the 450 acres of Sherwood Forest. Those of you who have read my previous reports of trying to find my way in a forest will remember that I am not very good at it. Never the less I am willing to have another go as this forest seems to have very well defined paths, including the easy to follow Robin Hoods Way. So off I went with map in hand. 
I seemed to have been walking for quite a long way, and wasn't really sure if I was heading in the right direction. My plan was to walk westbound, then turn right for a mile or two, then head for the village of Budby, through Duncan Wood and Budby Corner Plantation to Clumber Lake and Park. There was a point where I was a bit confused, but I came across a strolling couple who put me on the right track for Budby. I really must remember to put my compass in my bag next time. 
This is an old fashioned post box still in use in Budby. Isn't it lovely.  
This ornate iron gate must have been at the entrance to a house on a large estate at one time, but now the railings are incomplete and you can walk round it to the other side. The house is hidden in the trees to the left hand side of it.  
This is Clumber Bridge which goes over the bottom end of Clumber Lake. Some of the stonework has been recently restored.   
And here we have a map to the park, it is managed by the National Trust. There are 3,800 acres of picturesque parklands and gardens, woodlands and a lake to explore. I'll just have a half hour or so, as I still have a lot more walking to do if I am going to stick to my original plan.   
This is the stable yard which has recently been refurbished.
The Anglican Church of St Mary the Virgin is a grade 1 listed building. It's beautiful. 
Time was pressing on so I left the park at Hardwick Village and walked over this footbridge, towards the main A614 road. The cars have to drive through the water here as it tumbles over the minor road and down the weir towards the River Poulter. It was still lovely and sunny, I have been lucky with the weather.
By this time I realised that my original plan will have to be amended to take in a shorter route back. I wanted to go down the long distance footpath to see Robin Hoods cave then follow the River Maun to New Ollerton and back to Edwinstowe, but I could see that I was going to run out of daylight if I attempted that. So I crossed over the A614 and took the road past Shepherds Lodge and Thoresby, back to Budby. From there on some of it would be retracing my steps, but looking for a short cut through the forest back to the Major Oak. The sun was low in the sky, it wouldn't be long before it sank out of sight, I wondered if I would make it back before it got completely dark. I took this last photo, and stepped up my pace, I just had to get back as quickly as I could, or I would be in trouble.  
I remembered some of the route back, but to be honest, all the paths look pretty much the same. I was beginning to regret my decision to push hard to Clumber and Hardwick, maybe I should have taken a shorter route, but my curiosity overrulled my head, so I pressed on.
By now I was running out of daylight very quickly, the beautiful red sunset had disappeared in minutes. Oh heck, I didn't put my head torch in my bag, now what do I do. I could just about make out the blackness of the path I was following, I focused on it, head down, just march and get out of this flippin forest. To be honest I wasn't scared, I had got myself into this mess, no point in freaking out, I had to get myself out of there. Even if I rang for help I wouldn't be able to tell anyone where I was, it was up to me to sort it out. I almost bumped into a signpost, and shone the light from my phone up to it to read it. One of the pointers said Youth Hostel 1.5 miles. I cheered, I should be back in about half an hour. 
From then on I focussed on walking in a straight line on that path. My pace quickened, as I imagined the lights of the hostel coming into view. But they didn't. I seemed to be walking for ages. There's one good thing about walking in the dark, you can have a pee anywhere, ha ha. 
Eventually, up ahead I could see the headlights of cars on a road, thank goodness for that, I must be getting somewhere near civilisation. I came out of the forest onto a road, but where was I, and what direction should I go, left of right. My instincts told me to go right. It was a long straight road so cars were coming down it pretty fast, I had to keep leaping onto the grass verge as they blinded me with their headlights. 
Whilst stumbling along I kept my eyes to the ground so as not to trip over anything. I spotted what looked like a small soggy wet jewellery box in the long grass, and kicked it to turn it over. There was something in it so I picked it up and opened it. I was amazed to find a pretty necklace, a sliver chain with a crystal pendant hanging from it. I don't know how I do it, all these freebees find me. That necklace could have laid there for years without anyone ever finding it, then I come along in the pitch black, and just happen to look down at that moment, and bingo. Amazing. I doubt very much that it is worth anything, it looks like a piece of costume jewellery, I wounder how it came to be there, someone must have lobbed it out of a car window. 
It was 7.30pm when I arrived back at the hostel. I had made the right decision to turn right onto the road, I eventually came to the brown tourist sign pointing to the hostel and I could see the lights. Yay, I have done it. I was mighty pleased with myself that I had kept my cool, and found the way back in the pitch black without a torch. Flaming forests, I ought to keep out of them in future, ha ha.   


  1. Oh thank goodness you can keep your wits about you. I'm sure you won't forget your head light next time ;-)

  2. Oh my word Ilona! So glad you made it back safely, and congratulations on your lucky find! Sherwood Forest looks amazing and you have shared some lovely photographs - thank you. I don't think I have ever done more than drive past the Forest and seen the sign to the Visitors' Centre. It isn't that far from the Fens to Nottinghamshire, so we really should make it over there one day - it looks great, and Robin Hood was one of my childhood heroes.

  3. I found your blog on the Cathy@Home blog. I read your story and visualized myself going through it all. That would have freaked me out! You did well and got a prize to boot! It sounds so engaging to walk through Sherwood Forest! I was amazed to see a bridge that water is allowed to tumble over and cars are allowed to drive on it! I would be afraid it would undermine and give way! I guess you have to have a back pack with all the things like a compass, head light, water, etc. From your profile it looks like you are leading a frugal but happy life!

  4. If ever I have money...night vision goggles will be yours!!
    Jane x

  5. Glad you got out of there safely, relying on your instincts was the best thing to do. What a brilliant word 'Clumber' is. The sort of word that sticks in your brain, well mine anyway!

    Your finding the necklace on the verge like that reminds me of that quote from Casablanca, "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine"

    Linda xx

  6. Glad you got back safe Ilona, I don't think I'd have been as level headed over the experience as you were - the necklace must have been your reward. Thanks for posting the photos - the great oak looks amazing.

    Anne x

  7. Oh MQ how scary ! I felt nervous just reading about it !
    weren't you just a teeny bit scared walking along that road with the cars passing you ? I'd have been terrified one of them would stop and grannyknap me !!
    You're so brave doing these things alone.

  8. Oh so that was you having a pee in the dark forest. I didn't have time to read all this sorry. You didn't by any chance find a necklace with a crystal pendant on your way back to the hostel did you?

  9. Thanks for the pictures. I especially like the old oak. Forests are totally hard and confusing to navigate... I was out a few months back and got lost in a forest and ended up going in a big circle and ending up where I started. One thing I always carry with me when walking is my phone that has GPS maps on it. It's got the entire topographical map for NZ loaded onto it and can pin point exactly where I am using GPS, even if there is not cell phone coverage. Has been very useful in a couple of situations. They're only about 100pound also.

  10. That was some adventure! I must say, staggering about in the woods at night is not a sensible thing to do as you could quite easily trip over a tree root and injure your ankle. But, I`m glad you made it back safely.

  11. The oak is magnificent. Often, here is the states people vandalized famous trees. Has that caught on in UK? I would have cried in the forest. Woods and the country frighten me in the daylight in a car!

  12. The oak is amazing, looks a great place to visit x

  13. Hi

    Lovely to hear about your trip . We have been to Clumber a few times and love it. There is something very magical about being in the woods. It also seems to connect you to the past as parts of the forest haven't changed in 100's of years. Mind you, I would pass on being in there in the dark on my own. I would have been scared some lunatic was in there with me!

    We have been to Hardwick and driven through the water. My twin daughters loved it and made their Dad drive through about 20 times. I am sure the locals must have thought we were nutcases!

    I love your blog, but don't comment much.


  14. I'll bet that was a bit scary too. I did that on the moors when the fog came down and although I thought I could use my compass, got a bit panicky when I lost the sheep trail.

    I love that sculpture, it's amazing. Of course the tree is awesome, goes without saying.. I've only ever passed Sherwood Forest on our way cross country but I'd love to see it for real.

  15. :D I got lost in the dark in Sherwood too! It's more mysterious than it first seems I reckon.

    Brought back some fun memories. I love Nottingham!

  16. I love your sense of adventure. I've been to Sherwood Forest, but not seen it as you do, you always see all the interesting things that other (less fit) people miss.

  17. So glad that you kept your cool and got back safely. Isn't the steel gate magnificent? All the old buildings are superb too.


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