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Merry trails steeped in legend — hiking the Robin Hood Way

Nilfanion, CC BY-SA 4.0

Merry trails steeped in legend — hiking the Robin Hood Way

Hiking Collection by Alex Foxfield

8

Tours

49:25 h

117 mi

5,100 ft

Once, long ago, an ancient forest covered the land between Nottingham and Worksop in the heart of England. This vast, dense woodland was known as Sherwood Forest and was home to one of English folklore’s greatest heroes: Robin Hood.

Along with his trusty Merry Men, Robin would steal from the tyrannous rich, as they travelled along the forest roads, and give the takings to the impoverished and less fortunate. And so, the legend of Robin Hood was born.

The ravages of the modern age have not been kind to Sherwood’s majestic trees. As with much of Britain’s native forests, many have been felled to turn the gears of industry, support the great war efforts of the last few centuries and, uniquely to Sherwood, to make way for country estates, known as the Dukeries. What remains is a mosaic of ancient woodland, vibrant new plantations, magnificent parkland, classic farmland, grand ducal estates and charming villages.

It is through this historic and much-changed land that the Robin Hood Way winds through. Starting in the vibrant city of Nottingham and its mighty castle and finishing at the village of Edwinstowe and the 1,000-year-old Great Oak, it is a marvellous and varied long-distance trail.

During its 105-mile (169 km) course you visit many places with strong associations to Robin Hood, as well as landscapes of scenic magnificence, such as the limestone gorge of Creswell Crags and the timeless remains of Sherwood itself. Whether tackling the route one day at a time or setting out on a grand multi-day adventure, it is a route achievable by all. Gradients are kind, paths are easy to follow (look out for the bow and arrow pointing the way ahead) and you’re never far from cafés and pubs in the next town or village.

The idea behind the route was initially conceived by Chris Thompson of the Nottingham Wayfarers Rambling Club and the original route was opened in 1985, thanks to the sterling efforts of Roland Price and Alex Hickton. It was extended to its current format in 1995 to include the historic town of Southwell and other areas of interest, such as some of the country parks.

The Way is feasible in all seasons but bear in mind that trails can get very muddy during the winter months or after rainfall, particularly those through the woodland sections. Sturdy boots, warm layers and waterproofs are recommended for all but the most optimistic summer forecast. This is England, after all.

In this Collection, I have split the route up into eight stages of between 11 and 17 miles (18 to 27 km) in length, though there are many ways to break the route down further due to the wealth of villages and public transport along the route. The vast majority choose to start the route in the city and save the traditional heart of Sherwood, the Major Oak and Edwinstowe, for the closing stages, as well as other highlights like Creswell Crags and Clumber Park.

It is highly recommended that you book accommodation in advance if you are planning to sleep along the route. Stage end points Burntstump Park, Creswell Crags and Whitewater Bridge have very limited options and you may need to arrange public transport to get you to your lodgings. You will easily find plenty of food and drink and all stages finish near pubs, cafés and restaurants.

If travelling by car, the entire route is just to the east of the M1 and therefore easily accessed from London, Leeds and Sheffield, as well as being within straightforward driving distance from Manchester and Birmingham.

Nottingham is well served by a mainline train station with links to most major cities. Edwinstowe does not have its own train station but is connected by bus to Mansfield, Retford and Worksop, which all do. Check bustimes.org/localities/edwinstowe for more information.

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Robin Hood Way

111 mi

4,975 ft

4,875 ft

Last updated: November 15, 2021

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    05:51
    13.8 mi
    2.4 mph
    700 ft
    575 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Setting off from the heart of Nottingham by the Robin Hood statue in the shadow of the city’s mighty castle, the Robin Hood Way starts as it means to go on amidst historic splendour. Majestic Wollaton Hall and its deer inhabited parkland are visited en route to the town of Kimberley.

    

    It should take you

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    06:35
    15.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    800 ft
    725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage of the Robin Hood Way is all about the fine country parks that make your acquaintance on your journey from Kimberley to Burntstump Park. Urban life is well and truly left behind as you make a beeline towards the heart of the ancient forest of Sherwood.

    

    There’s over 15 miles (24 km) to cover

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    07:10
    16.8 mi
    2.3 mph
    900 ft
    900 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Woodland becomes more prominent on this stage of the Robin Hood Way, as you continue your journey north.

    

    At almost 17 miles (27 km), this is the longest of the eight stages here. If this sounds like too much for one day, it is easily broken up as the end point of Blidworth is reached twice, once at the

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:58
    14.1 mi
    2.4 mph
    575 ft
    825 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The next 14 miles (23 km) of your journey take you across gently undulating farmland to the attractive town of Southwell and its remarkable cathedral. The red-brick village of Farnsfield makes for an ideal lunch stop, whilst other points of interest include a memorial to a crashed Second World War bomber

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    07:02
    16.8 mi
    2.4 mph
    675 ft
    550 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This longer stage of the Robin Hood Way takes you broadly North West towards the true heartland of the ancient forest of Sherwood.

    

    Mansey Common represents the most untamed landscape you will find on the whole trail, whilst there’s yet more architectural interest to be found at Rufford Abbey and Archway

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:49
    11.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    425 ft
    450 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Starting only a stone’s throw away from the Robin Hood Way’s end point in Edwinstowe, this stage takes you first north into the forest and then west towards the fine limestone gorge of Creswell Crags. Some of the lodges built as part of the Dukeries are passed en route, whilst the trail leads through

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    07:06
    17.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    550 ft
    625 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage is all about the magnificent Clumber Park. The former estate of the Dukes of Newcastle, today this sprawling 3,800-acres (1540 ha) of gardens, parkland, heath, woodland and lake is owned by the National Trust.

    

    At over 13 miles (21 km), this stage could be halved by using the park’s many amenities

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:54
    11.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    475 ft
    400 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The climax of the Robin Hood Way fittingly takes you to places of folklore legend, in the very heart of the ancient forest of Sherwood.

    

    The Major Oak is the final natural wonder on your journey, the 1,000-year-old veteran tree that legend tells to be the hiding and sleeping place of Robin and the Merry

    by Alex Foxfield

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    8
  • Distance
    117 mi
  • Duration
    49:25 h
  • Elevation
    5,100 ft

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Merry trails steeped in legend — hiking the Robin Hood Way

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