Ezekial Bone is famed throughout the land for leading Nottingham's most authentic tours. Here are his insider tips on Robin Hood's old stomping ground.
As a Robin Hood for the 21st century, prowling its streets for the last 20 years, I have a great working relationship with the City of Nottingham and delight in showing off the city’s cultural gems and heritage pubs to visitors. Here are a few of my favourite outlaw haunts in this great county... but don’t forget, there are many more!:
Although not a castle, the current Nottingham Castle is a ducal palace from the 17th century. Disappointing to Robin Hood seekers expecting a Kevin Costner castle, it does have its own fascinating history, not least when the people of Nottingham set fire to it during the Reform Bill Riots of 1831. Living in grinding poverty and refused the right to vote, in their actions lay the embers of the political parties of the modern day.
The best time for an outlaw to go to the Castle is October. The Robin Hood Pageant sees the grounds brought to life with medieval characters, jousting and a market place, especially good for young minds. Even better is the Robin Hood Beer Festival which has a world record of over 1,200 ales and ciders in one place. This really has to be the best Beer Festival in Britain, with great ales, food, music and commanding views over the City at night.
A visit to Sherwood Forest is a must. This once majestic Royal Hunting Forest was decimated by progress, as its oaks were cut down to build the foundations of the English nation. It is now a fraction of its former size but it is still one of the best places in the world for ancient oak trees, many of which are over 1,000 years old.
It is perhaps the world’s most famous forest due to its associations with the legendary Robin Hood. Although now a Country Park, there are landscapes and habitats still in existence of the sort that Robin Hood would have seen. The best time to come here, especially if you have children, is the second week of August, when the Robin Hood Festival takes place. Medieval characters wander between the ancient oaks, and shows take place that really bring ‘Robin Hood’s daye’ to life.
Perhaps one of Nottingham’s greatest secrets lies beneath the streets of the town where there is a subterranean world of over 500 caves. Carved out of soft sandstone, and used as dwellings, storage and cellars, some of them date back one and a half thousand years ago but most were cut as the market town grew into a City during the reign of Queen Victoria.
The Malt Cross, a fine Victorian Music Hall, is a genteel place to have a drink. Keep an eye on it as it has just secured £1.5 million to open up the two stories of caves beneath it to the public. An aptly named Dr Strange-Walker has also just developed a phone app so virtual tours of the caves are possible from the street level.
Finally, no tour of Notts would be complete without visits to many of its fine watering holes. The most famous is the ‘oldest inn in England’, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. The date on the wall says 1189 and reputedly it was a place for Crusader knights to quench their thirst before their quest to recapture the Holy City from the hands of the Muslim hordes.
What a great story! But is it true?! Join Robin Hood some time to quaff fine ales, chew the fat and soak up the good times in the ancient and eccentric surroundings of this unique cave pub. Unbeatable.
Robin Hood lives and Nottingham rocks!
Ade Andrews, a.k.a. Ezekial Bone, leads tours through the City of Nottingham, revealing Robin Hood's old haunts, as well as sorting the man from the myth. His captivating personality and in-depth knowledge has seen him nominated for the national VisitEngland Tourism Superstar Award. To find out more about Ade's Robin Hood tours, or to vote for him, visit the Ezekial Bone website.