By Andrew Liddell
IT’S fair to say Robin Hood and his merry men had to make do with rather more basic accommodation than that at the Sherwood Hideaway.
Set on the beautiful 100-acre Thoresby Estate, it features 14 contemporary lodges with colourful soft furnishings and inviting sofas which feel more luxury hotel than wood cabin.
The atmosphere is tranquil and there’s a real sense of being tucked away in the heart of the forest.
You can take a dip under the stars in the hot tub which is illuminated after dark or unwind on the terrace after an action-packed day. Stock up on provisions locally for self-catering or nearby takeaway restaurants deliver.
After a good night’s sleep in our soft Egyptian cotton sheets, my partner Heather, seven-year- old son Alex and I ventured out on mountain bikes hired from the Hideaway reception. We set off along woodland trails and the estate’s back roads, cycling for miles without seeing a single vehicle.
Other guests were exploring on foot. With a host of routes, it is possible to spend hours hiking through Sherwood Forest (the Hideaway allows dogs, so don’t let the family pet miss out). The estate also has a fishing lake stocked with rainbow trout.
Thoresby Hall Hotel is also on the estate and for a small charge Hideaway guests can use the Grade I-listed property’s leisure facilities including pool, sauna and gym.
If you want to indulge in the delights of the hotel’s World Spa with its Turkish Hammam and eucalyptus-scented Aromatherapy Cave, book a day spa package which includes a two-course lunch.
One afternoon we wandered around The Courtyard, a delightful old stable block converted into a selection of craft shops selling handmade jewellery, art and glassware. We watched a demonstration by a glass-blower who created a beautiful vase in minutes.
Just a 10-minute drive away the legend of Robin Hood was brought to life at the Sherwood Forest Country Park and Visitor Centre. For history buffs there’s an exhibition about the outlaw while the more adventurous can test their skills at archery.
A nature trail weaves its way from the Visitor Centre deep into the forest to the Major Oak, a mighty tree thought to be 1,000 years old in whose hollow trunk Robin Hood was said to have hidden to evade his enemies.
Certainly it is easy to picture the merry men congregating around the giant oak, particularly when surrounded by hordes of children armed with longbows and kitted out in Lincoln green, the dyed woollen cloth associated with Robin Hood, from the gift shop.
Exploring the outer reaches of the forest we discovered Blackburn House, an old pumping station converted into a smart restaurant with an excellent Sunday carvery.
Another discovery was Rufford Abbey, a perfect place for whiling away a day with the family with a lakeside walk, a children’s play village, a sculpture trail and the ruins of a medieval monastery dating from 1147.
There are also two surviving ice houses, the 18th-century equivalent of fridges.
After exploring the forest, returning to our Hideaway retreat was all the more enticing. Emulating a legendary outlaw is a lot easier when done in the lap of luxury.
THE KNOWLEDGE The Sherwood Hideaway (01623 824 594/www.sherwoodhideaway.com) offers a two-night weekend break in a threebedroom rustic lodge from £300 (sleeps six), self catering. Seven nights from £625.
Nottinghamshire tourism: 0844 980 8080/ www.experiencenottinghamshire.com