Riding with Robin through the glen
We are both life members of the YHA, and the offer of a good deal to spend a couple of days at the Sherwood Forest Hostel was too good to ignore. We loaded the tandem (and a solo bike, just in case) into the back of the car, and off we went for three days riding the glens, exploring the territory where the famous Robin Hood hung out with his merry men. The hostel just happened to be in the same village (Edwinstowe) where, it is alleged, that Robin wed his sweetheart Maid Marian.
The stuff of legends adds so much colour to the often dreary, dull
facts of life. The truth of Robin Hood’s existence will continue to exercise the brains of historians and commentators for centuries to come but…….does it really matter? Just as there is no smoke without fire, so too there is no legend without some roots in verifiable facts. Whether fact or fiction, the mystery (like the Lochness monster) drives business and tourism, and makes old (but ordinary) trees, like the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, a major attraction.
We discovered miles of forest tracks and savoured hours of quiet solitude meandering through groves and along avenues of oak trees, squinting in the dappled sunlight of perfect autumnal weather. The Major Oak, now over 1000 years old, is now sturdily propped up on its ‘zimmer frame’ (but still alive and well, and producing an abundance of foliage). The area still betrays the recent existence of many collieries and railway lines, but the scars of past industries have been covered over and landscaped, and now serve as attractive locations for a whole variety of country activities.
Our arrival at Southwell was just 10 minutes too late for admittance
to the Minster, where we could have attended the live transmission of Evensong on BBC Radio 3. When I asked the Dean afterwards about the confusion as to whether the church was a Minster or Cathedral, he simply replied “Well, both really. It became a Cathedral (as well as a Minster) when the new diocese of Nottinghamshire was founded in 1884”. This follows the tradition of Minsters such as those of Lincoln and York.
At the end of three days of tandeming, we had covered over 100 miles, and just about met our nemesis on a 12% hill. For those who know about tandem riding, climbing hills is a particular challenge (I am sure there is a law of physics that will explain it), but the descents are usually gloriously fast, sometimes terrifyingly so!