Robin Hood and the Major Oak draw people to visit and are important, but the forest is so much more.
Here, I look at the forest as a forest.
Some of the old pathways and tracks can still be seen in the forest, hints of other peoples and other times. The trees themselves have seen us come and go, watched on as we live out our lives and walk amongst them.
The old oaks in Sherwood are links with a time past, thriving in our present and into a rich future. Seedlings, saplings and younger trees grow amongst them. Many of them are veteran and ancient. Many are dead, standing or fallen, continuing their life as home for things that can only happen in a dead standing oak. Many trees are both dead and alive at the same time, full of rich experience. Many are alive. All are exceptional and special.
Oaks love the sandstone soil here and do well. Other trees like beeches prefer limestone, but grow here and there in the forest, as well as trees like holly, birch, rowan, goat willow, hawthorn and bird cherry.
Yew groves were once planted as game roosts, and perhaps because of these trees there are many young self-seeded yews in the forest that seem to be happy, just getting on with growing. Maybe in the fullness of time they’ll become ancient and will play their part in the older landscape.
As the year turns in the forest, so do the sights, sounds and smells. Autumn brings the wealth of acorns, falling when a breeze blows through, held by squirrels, carried by jays, loved by nuthatches. Winter has a stillness, Spring a soft excitement, Summer a fullness of green. The ground underfoot changes, the sky changes, but there’s a calm that’s there all of the time, like a presence, constant through all the changes and experience. That, to me, is Sherwood.