About Sherwood Forest

Centuries in the making, the legend of Sherwood continues to grow, with every generation adding to its legacy.

Today, the forest is a magical destination for everyone who wants to enjoy this beautiful ancient woodland and the diverse flora and fauna that lives here. It is also, of course, home to the enduring legend of Robin Hood. For the 350,000 people who come to Sherwood Forest each year, we seek to make every one of those visits just a little bit magical…

Here you’ll find 375 hectares in our part of the National Nature Reserve, which is home to hundreds of species of bird, insect, mammal, fungi, tree and plant.

Welcome to RSPB Sherwood Forest and Budby South Forest

Robin Hood – Sherwood’s legend

Sherwood Forest has, for centuries, conjured up visions of its most famous resident – Robin Hood.

At the heart of Sherwood’s legend, Robin and his merry men defend the rights of the poor, fool the law and hide out in amongst the forest’s famous oaks – a legend that has constantly adapted since the late medieval age, but has always endured.

Tales of Robin Hood and his heroic acts still bring an air of magic to the woodlands he is said to have roamed. Maybe he still does…

Historic Sherwood

Wooded for centuries, and once part of a vast royal hunting ground, Sherwood’s a unique place to visit, boasting hundreds of ancient oaks thriving here for more than 500 years, including the legendary Major Oak, estimated to be around 1,000 years old.

Sherwood once covered an area of approximately 100,000 acres, around a fifth of the modern county of Nottinghamshire.

Its name, first recorded as ‘Sciryuda’ in the 10th Century, means ‘wood belonging to the Shire’.

The idea that Sherwood was a wild, thickly-wooded landscape is a romanticised view of how Robin Hood’s forest would have looked then.

By the time the Normans had conquered England, Sherwood was already an area which had been managed and shaped by the people who had lived since at least the era of the Roman occupation of Britain.

In the Middle Ages, ‘Forest’ was a legal term, and meant an area subject to laws designed to protect the valuable resources of timber and game within its boundaries. These laws were strictly and severely imposed by agisters, foresters, verderers (wardens) and rangers, who were all were employed by the Crown.


Who lives here?

Apart from the legend of Robin Hood? Amongst many other wonderful things, the jewel in our crown is the collection of ancient oaks across the Sherwood landscape area – almost 1,000 of them, making this the biggest and best place to find these trees in Europe.

There’s also some amazing invertebrate species and birds like the lesser spotted woodpecker and tree pipit.

All of this, and the fact that it’s one of the best surviving examples of oak-birch woodland in the UK, make Sherwood a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) protected under European law.

As a unique habitat, much of what thrives here is rarely seen outside the forest, and even here some of our more elusive species are hard to spot, making sightings all the more exciting and memorable.

The Major Oak

The legendary Major Oak, estimated to be around 1,000 years old.

Joining the RSPB family

In 2015, the RSPB was selected by Nottinghamshire County Council to manage the Sherwood Forest site, a country park at the time, on behalf of, and in partnership with them. Other partners include The Sherwood Forest Trust, Thoresby Estate and The Woodland Trust.

Together with a shared goal, this team will protect, conserve and enhance the ecology of the forest, promote this magical place to a national and international audience, and enrich the experience of visitors, who will continue to be able to enjoy the forest for free.

A striking new visitor centre was built and opened its doors in 2018.



Making of the RSPB Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre

Reproduced with kind permission of the Woodhead Group.

Restoring the former visitor centre site

We have been carrying out the restoration of the old visitor centre site.  This has included removing the old buildings and car parks very sensitively, to avoid any damage to the nearby trees, some of which are more than 500 years old.  This is a Special Area of Conservation and also a Site of Special Scientific Interest –  designations given to areas of real natural importance.  Our ancient oak trees need greater protection, which is why the visitor centre had to be relocated away from the forest.  Sadly, whilst visitors loved the old site in the trees, it was having a damaging effect on this special place.

The area is very sensitive after years of being so busy, but what was concrete and tarmac is emerging as wood pasture, with some heathland and acid grassland, typical of how it would once have looked – maybe even how Robin Hood would have remembered it!  This will help create new homes for wildlife as well as four hectares – that’s about the size of six football pitches – of extra forest for our visitors to explore and enjoy!

The video below, made by the Woodhead Group, which carried out the removal of the old Visitor Centre and built the new one shows you the progress that has been made in the few short years since its relocation to Forest Corner at Edwinstowe.

Letting Nature Return

Reproduced with kind permission of the Woodhead Group

The Miner2Major Partnership

We’re thrilled at Sherwood Forest to be working with the Miner2Major partnership which is helping communities celebrate the rich heritage of this area.  Already, it has supported work we are doing here to tell the stories of Robin Hood and the Major Oak at Sherwood.   Here’s what the whole scheme is all about.

The legendary Sherwood Forest is a significant and celebrated landscape due to its diverse wildlife, important habitats and rich heritage.

The last 200 years have changed the area.  It still has quiet places, stunning landscapes, history, wildlife, legend and a sense of belonging, but the great forest and heaths are now just patches in a landscape of industrial heritage.

Miner2Major is a partnership of local authorities, conservation groups and community organisations who have been working in the Sherwood Forest area for many years. This is the latest phase of long-term efforts to restore, explore and celebrate the Forest.

Miner2Major is a five-year scheme (2019-2023), supported by a £2,450,400 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  It focuses on the heart of the Sherwood Forest area from Nottingham to Ollerton, and Mansfield to Rufford Abbey, an area that has a distinctive landscape character, which is recognised and valued by local people, as well as visitors from across the world.

Local people and community groups will be encouraged and supported to take part in projects aimed at learning about, celebrating and conserving the area’s heritage.  We want to transform the way that local people can actively get involved and shape the Forest’s future.

Look out for the Miner2Major team at local events or get in touch with them on the following:

email: Miner2major@nottscc.gov.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/miner2major

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/miner2major_project/

Here's one of the story boards we've been working on at Sherwood to celebrate the legend of Robin Hood with support from the Miner2Major scheme.

About Robin Hood

Fact and folklore might be difficult to separate, but Sherwood still brings these enduring legendary tales to life. Discover the man, the myth, the annual festival…

Meet Sherwood’s most famous resident