One of the biggest reasons for many to visit Sherwood Forest is the Major Oak, a tree shrouded in myth, history and fascination. Read on for everything you need to know about visiting the Major Oak and why it’s such a popular tourist attraction.
About the Major Oak
You’ll find the great oak by following the Major Oak trail from the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre. The walk is along dedicated pathways, and it should take you around 15-minutes to reach the tree.
The Major Oak is a much loved ancient oak tree, well known for its connections to the legend of Robin Hood. The pathways surrounding the tree are designed to protect its extensive roots, so please remember to stick to the trail when visiting!
It’s impossible to know exactly how old the tree is but experts estimate it to be around 800 – 1100 years old. That means the tree has stood strong during two world wars, over 50 monarchs and the births and deaths of many well-known characters throughout history including Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin. Through the strongest winds, coldest blizzards and hottest summers, the Major Oak has continued it’s slow and steady growth and isn’t showing signs of giving up any time soon.
The Major Oak is the biggest tree in Britain; it’s possible that several young trees fused together to form what we now see. With a canopy spreading 28 metres and a trunk circumference of 11 metres, its grand size really is impressive.
The size of the Major Oak is due to its location in the forest, in a clearing, away from any other competing trees. While the tree has been able to spread its branches, it’s been a slow process. The soil around the tree is poor quality which means the Major Oak has and is continuing to grow slowly and steadily.
As the Major Oak grew in popularity in 1908, it was decided that conservation efforts should begin so the tree could be enjoyed for as long as possible. Metal straps and chains were fitted in 1908 to support some of the trees weakest branches.
You’ll notice the tree is fenced off when you visit, this is because the weight of thousands of visitors’ footsteps each year began to compact the soil surrounding the roots in 1972. When this was realised, a fence was erected to keep visitors away from the base of the tree. Today, the walkways in place throughout the forest are there for the same reason, to stop heavy footfall damaging the various fauna and flora.
Tree surgeons maintain the tree which is checked daily by forest rangers to make sure all is well.
These days, you won’t come across many people that haven’t heard of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. The Major Oak is said to be the tree that served as a shelter and a hiding place to the legendary outlaws.
Our Sherwood Pines campsite is situated in the beautiful Sherwood Forest, ideally located for visiting the Major Oak and other popular forest attractions.
The Major Oak is impressive year-round, whether surrounded by the first frost of winter or showcasing its impressively green leaves and huge harvest of Acorns in the warmer months.
Spring is a great time to see the Major Oak, just as it begins to flower and produce acorns. In the autumn, the leaves start to change colour and fall onto the surrounding ground, providing much-needed nutrients for the forest floor.
From walking trails and cycling tracks to Go Ape and seasonal events, you’ll always be able to find something to do in Sherwood Forest.
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