Back in March, Stephen and I had three of our dearest friends were in town from the States, and being the devotees of Robin Hood, we decided to take a break from London and head out to the midlands and Nottingham with a view to see Sherwood Forest.
So we hop on the 8:30 train from Kings Cross (after the obligatory visit to Platform 9 3/4) and in what felt like no time at all, were in Nottingham. We decided to head first to the castle, spend our morning there and then head out to the forest itself.
So off we trek and on our way, what do we spot, but one of the oldest pubs in England
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Inn
which actually butts up against the base of the outcropping the castle itself sits on top of. As it was still quite early in the day, it wasn't yet open, so we continued around to the front gates. But first we passed through a neat sculpture garden depicting the various characters from the Robin Hood tales - including Robin Hood himself
Tracie with Robin
Then - into the castle with us! Unfortunately, the original castle was torn down after the civil war (Nottingham supported the wrong side you see) and the late Duke of Nottingham built a palace in it's place, which was later also burned down during a set of unfortunate riots in the Victorian times. As a rebuff to the population, he left the burnt out shell. It's now a visitors center and small museum. Quite nice really, with some lovely views from the top.
Some of the outer ramparts, including the main gate
The park grounds
View from the top over the main city
View from the top looking the other direction
Kati, Tracie and Tony in the gardens looking back toward the castle
From there we discovered our tickets were also good for the local museum rather oddly called The Brewhouse Yard Museum, presumably because of the proximity to the pub. It was actually quite big and laid out very well.
From there we grabbed lunch and then headed over to the main city visitors center to see about the bus to the forest. Unfortunately, as we weren't in prime tourist season, the bus only ran every two hours. Not exactly ideal, and we had just missed the last bus that would have given us any time at all in the forest. We were rather disappointed, to say the least. This did give us more time to explore the city properly (and have a relaxing lunch) and get in a tour of the caves beneath the castle. This turned out to be quite neat - tales of plotting and revenge, treason and counter-treason - fun stuff. We had a great guide as well. In the civil war they actually carved the cliff equivalent of gun ports for cannons, which gives the cliffs a bit of a riddled look.
as you can see here.
with the union jack flying above it
and on the left, our guide - really nice guy who could tell a great ghost story.
From there we wandered about the town, seeing what we could see, gradually making our way north.
One of the unique things about Nottingham, was the really cool tram system they had set up. It's one of the few times I've seen a light rail system that didn't cause a huge disruption to traffic. That and it was extremely well kept, as you can see here.
a view of city hall (they were in the middle of some fairly heavy construction at the time, so getting good pics of the center of town was quite difficult)
An interesting side street, complete with arch
And of course in good European style, plenty of narrow alley ways to lurk in
Sculpture outside the main dramatic theatre - quite cool I thought
how in the heck did the graffiti artists get up there? For reference, it's a good 8-10 stories above street level
A view of the Church of St. Barnabas, the Roman Catholic cathedral
From there we decided to head over to the historic cemetary. It took us a while to find out exactly how you were supposed to get in, fortunately, some creative exploring eventually got us there
It's that way, don't ya see
And looking across the cemetery at the local chapel
By this time of day, however it was quite late and time to head back to the station to grab our train - on the other side of town. We did make it in the end, but wow were our feet tired!!
So a pretty good trip all in all, even if it did mean missing the forest - it just means another trip!!
Naturally, I took tons more pictures - all of which you can see in my flickr gallery