‘Once again a geography question rears it’s ugly head and stumps the American’ – Keith Murray
My name’s Helen and I’m a Robin Hood nut. Sadly I’d love to pretend that my interest peaked when I was taught about the legend of Robin Hood at school, all factually correct and accurate but sadly, my obsession started with this handsome chap:
Disney’s Robin Hood was (and in my opinion still is) the best Disney cartoon ever made and has remained a firm family favourite. A few years later, quite arguably the best film ever made (I said arguably). Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and thus my obsession grew, and Kevin Costner rightfully earned the accolade as ‘first ever crush’, despite the dodgy accent. When it was released in 1991 I was 9 and there was no big cinema near where we lived in Belgium so we traveled all the way to Brussels to see it. In fact, me and my brother liked it so much we actually forced my parents to take us to see it again when we visited my Gran in Birmingham later that year.
Back then, I’d never lived in the North East of England and had only visited our Grandparents a hand full of times so despite an average grasp of the geography he British Isles, I wasn’t really aware until I was older that if you land at Dover and heading for Nottingham, you probably don’t want to go via Hadrian’s Wall. But Kevin Costner’s historical inaccuracies are the North East of England’s gain as we are proudly home to a tree upon which the great KC and Morgan Freeman have rested upon.Seeing as we actually only live about 40 miles away from this tree and have done for the last 23 years, we thought it might be about time we got out to visit it.
You can find Robin Hood’s tree (or Sycamore Gap as it’s actually called) 2 kilometres from the old Military road that runs parallel to the A69, in fact you can see it from the B6318 as you drive from the East. We parked up at the Twice Brewed pub so we could go for a drink afterwards but there seemed to be lots of non chargable parking along the road which lead up to the Hadrian’s Wall path.
Even if you’re not a nerd for the film it’s still a really beautiful spot t visit. We went on a sunny bank holiday and there were loads of people milling around taking pictures, stopping for a rest or eating lunch.
Like anything big and tall, the best views are actually from further away (go figure!) we found the nicest views were from either side halfway up the wall itself. But be warned, it’s pretty steep so not for anyone with walking difficulties (or teeny tiny legs like me – it was a hands and knees job at one point #shortgirlproblems)
As it only takes about 20 minutes to walk there from the road it would be a shame not to have a cheeky class of wine at the pub (Twice Brewed) which is dog and muddy walking boot friendly and has a good range of local ales including their own Twice Brewed Bitter, just be warned it was over a tenner for a pint and a glass of wine (so we just had the one 😉 )
While you’re in the area there are loads of other parts of the wall you can visit too. The National Trust car parks are £4 all day, which may seem steep but if gives you access to all the car parks all day, so if you’re making a day of it, it’s much better value. Go North East have also resurrected their Hadrian’s Wall Country Bus which runs between Easter and September between Hexham – Chesters Fort – Housesteads – Vindolanda – Walltown – Greenhead – Haltwhistle for those who are under their own steam but may not have a car or the inclination to walk the whole distance!
About 15 minutes down the road back to the East and definitely worth a visit particularly if you have kids is Chesters Roman Fort which is an English Heritage site and includes small but extesive museum of Roman artifacts, tea and old Roman Cavalry Fort so something for everyone (if only there was a pub too *shakes fist*). The Cavalry Fort is really great for exploring, it’s well signposted so you can really get a picture of how it would have looked back in the day, and who doesn’t love learning about the yucky toilet habits of yore?!
If you’re travelling from further afield there’s loads of quaint little locally run accommodation options for somewhere to refuel and rehydrate after a long work in the great outdoors all day. Herding Hill Farm is a particularly popular choice offering lodging, camping, glamping (for girls like like who can’t live with out their hair straighteners and a working toilet) and caravan and campervan parking.
So even if you’re not a massive Robin Hood/Kevin Costner nerd like me there’s still loads to do right on your door step if you’re prepared to drive an hour or so to get there. I’m sure we’ll be back later in the summer, if only to re-create Bryan Adams’ music video: