My boyfriend and I are in the process of buying our first house, and finding somewhere to live while we wait for that to complete – so everything is a little crazy right now.
When life starts to get a bit intense, my favourite thing to do is escape the city and get a fresh sense of perspective from the open air. So, when my parents invited us to stay with them in a cabin in Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest, we jumped at the chance – regardless of the fact that I hadn’t been there since I was at least eight.
One of the main reasons for this was it’s proximity to Nottinghamshire’s legendary Sherwood Forest and the woods which stretch out surrounding it. So one afternoon while we were there, we took our mountain bikes and pedalled out to neighbouring Sherwood Pines, which lies a 25 minute ride from Center Parcs in Edwinstowe.
At over 3,300 acres it is the biggest forest open to the public in the East Midlands, and is dominated by sentinel-like pine trees, with grassy clearings folded in between, offering perfect picnic spots which are just begging to be used.
Popular among nature enthusiasts, families and cyclists alike, it offers several cycle trails for varying abilities, which are clearly sign-posted almost every step of the way.
I would like to say that we went for the Adventure Trail – a 6 mile trail, which takes you through both smooth, level gravelled paths and twisting, dipping offroad trails through the trees and across the forest floor. However unfortunately we were short on time, and – after four blissful days of getting everywhere by bike – a little sore, so we opted for the Family Trail.
The 3 mile route took around an hour in all, leading us through paths between the towering trees, across clearings set up with volleyball nets and gazebos, and over walkways ingrained with ancient tree roots. Overhead, the forest canopy was a feast of colours and textures.
One of my favourite things about the woods is walking on the soft, damp, pine-littered forest floor, which almost feels hollow with roots underfoot, and hushes your footsteps. This, and being able to look up and glean perspective from the height and the age of towering trees, to remind you of what nature was able to create long before the world of work, material possessions and technology ever really mattered.
How to get there: Take the 14 or 15 bus to Kirton or Walesby from Mansfield Bus Station. Alternatively, if travelling by car, Sherwood Pines is located on the B6030 East of Kings Clipstone.
Facilities: The public are well catered for, with a Visitor Centre, cafe, Go Ape!, Sherwood Pines Cycles (offering hire and equipment), toilets and more. During the summer months the park occasionally hosts concerts, with a number of well known acts set to perform beneath the canopy during summer 2015. For more information, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/sherwoodpines
All pictures by me.