Roche Abbey was founded in the 12th century as a monastery of the Cistercian Order and was once home to over 50 monks and 100 lay brothers.
What hits you the most when you visit this tranquil space is how peaceful and beautiful this location really is. Set in a valley surrounded by forest, streams and pleasant lake, and owned by English Heritage it’s a perfect place to pay a visit.
The place has a nearly complete ground plan laid out as excavated foundations and the early Gothic transepts reaching original height.
A perfect place to enjoy a picnic in the ruins by the stream, feeling the tranquil peace the place offers and a chance to walk on the several walkways in and around the valley.
Sherwood Forest, sat in the heart of Nottinghamshire and the legendary stomping ground of Robin Hood and his merry men back in the day.
Home to the infamous Major Oak Tree dating back to the medieval times, Sherwood is a 450 acre Country Park and currently managed by an RSPB led consortium in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council.
The forest is said to have over 900 veteran oak trees and is open to the public everyday of the year except Christmas Day.
Sherwood Forest is a landmark of thousands of years in the making alive with nature, ancient forest, history and folklore and for everyone to explore. What I took in most on my visit was the sheer number of trees blanketing throughout this ancient woodland. Over a thousand ancient oak trees remain throughout, many dating back to medieval times. The forest is home to many living creatures including wild birds, bats, squirrels and even red deer roam around the forest.
The Forest Trails
There are several well marked walks and trails giving visitors a great introduction to the forest. Including The Major Oak Trail, The Giants Trail, The Greenwood Trail, and The Wildwood Trail. I walked down the Major Oak Trail but all are a perfect way to begin to get to know this unique forest. If you want to lead you own expedition into the forest you can follow one of the many other paths and bridleways.
The Major Oak
The Major Oak is without a doubt the biggest tree in Britain with a canopy spread of 28 meters, trunk circumference of 11 meters and weighing around 23 tonnes. The exact age of the tree is unknown but believed to be around 800-1100 years old surviving fire, raging winds, heavy snowstorms and hundreds of years of deforestation.
Legend has it that Robin Hood and his Merry men used this magnificent tree for shelter camping beneath it and hiding inside the hollow trunk.
Sherwood Forest Visitors Centre
At the heart of the park is a visitors centre with lots of information about the forest, Robin Hood and his merry men, and statues. There is also a shop to purchase memorabilia and several playgrounds nearby which includes den building.
Ancient Trees in Sherwood Forest
What makes Sherwood Forest special is the number of ancient oak trees which can be seen from the walks and trails. They are a beautiful and unique to look at and take you a step back into nature. All in all there are believed to be over a thousand ancient trees alive in the forest.
The Outlaw Robin Hood
Robin Hood was a legendary heroic outlaw originally depicted in English folk law and later in literature and film. He was said to be a highly skilled archer and swordsman.
His lover was said to be Maid Marion and his Merry Men (Outlaws) included Friar Tuck, Little John and Will Scarlet.
He’s depicted as to have robbed from the rich to give to the poor.
His chief opponent was said to be The Sheriff of Nottingham.
Robin Hood Festival
Sherwood Forest host’s The Robin Hood Festival each year. Be prepared for seven days of live re-enactments, dance, songs, storytelling, sword-fighting, archery and adventures with the outlaws.
The festival includes food and drink stalls, demonstrations, craft stalls and medieval music to get you into the mood and immerse yourselves into the legends of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
The annual Robin Hood festival at Sherwood Forest has be taking place since 1984 and 2020 will be the 36th annual event.
Regents Park, originally a hunting ground in days gone by is located in North West London between the Borough of Westminster and Borough of Camden. The Regents Park as it’s officially known is one of eight royal parks dotted around London. What hit me first about this tranquil park is the effort that’s been put into the landscape and buildings throughout.
This beautiful 410 acre royal park combines large open spaces with tree-lined pathways, formal gardens, ponds and a large lake. It boasts excellent sports facilities containing central London’s largest outdoor sports area. Sports played range from cycling, netball, athletics, cricket, softball, rounders, football, hockey, rugby, ultimate frisbee and running.
The Boating Lake
This scenic lake is home to a number of species of water birds including the mute swan, Egyptian goose, manderin duck, hobby, common sandpiper, pied wagtail, water rail, herring gull, red crested pochard, little grebe, great crested grebe, tuffed duck, lesser black-backed gull, gadwall, common pochard, canadian goose, moorhen, northern shoveler, heron, black headed gull and more.
In the summer months there’s facilities to hire small boats to row around the lake exploring its hidden beauty.
Queen Mary’s Gardens
Located within the park is ‘Queen’s Mary’s Gardens’ boasting over 12,000 planted roses of many different varieties throughout. Home to a peaceful man made waterfall, smaller lake and beautiful garden arrangements throughout. One thing you can say about this part of the park it’s exceptionally maintained and well cared for.
The Avenue Gardens
The Avenue Gardens is located to the south of Regents Park with formal displays of spring bulbs and summer bedding. Here you can see excellent thought out tiered fountains and ornamental bowls bustling to the brim with flowers and shrubs. These displays were a delight to photograph and take in.
Statues and sculptures of the park
As I wondered around the park taking in the hidden beauty this park has to offer I came across some statues and wooden sculptures. These can be found randomly throughout the park.
Facilities of Regents Park
Apart from the array of sports you can take part in, Regent Park have their very own open air theatre currently showing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. As well as cafe’s dotted throughout the park including the boathouse cafe, the espresso bar, broadwalk cafe, the hub cafe and Regents park bar and kitchen.
Trent park itself is a grade II listed English Country house located in north of London. The house sits in its former grounds extending to some 320 hectares lies within a conservation area and designated as Metropolitan Green Belt. Having special historic interest in England it dates back to the fourteenth century and was part of Enfield Chase and one of Henry IV’s hunting grounds. But this historic English House has another closely guarded secret!
In 1939 Trent park was requisitioned by the war office on behalf of the Intelligence Service (MI6) and in 1942 the house was reserved exclusively for captured Germans.
The house exterior was used as a location for scenes in the 1957 film ‘The One That Got Away’ and in the 1983 episode of Doctor Who ‘ Mawdryn Undead’ the one with Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor Who.
On the historical daffodil lawn over 30,000 daffodils have already been planted as part of a project, a further 120,000 more bulbs planned before the end of the project.
Trent Country Park Grounds
The grounds extends to some 320 hectares and since 1973 has been known as Trent Country Park. Teeming with wildlife the park boasts an array of birds including the Kestrel, Swallow, House Martin, Skylark, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Robin Redbreast and several species of Bat. Has an array of wild animals including the Squirrel, Stoat, Shrew, Vole and Mole. With all the regular insects including the Green Tiger Beetle, Seven Spot Ladybird, Grasshoppers and Crickets. Butterflies include the common Blue, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, White-Letter Hairstreak, Tufted Vetch, Large Skipper, Large White and Six-Spot Burnet Moth.
Statues situated in the park
Statues are dotted around the park, but the one that caught my eye was the Obelisk statue located on the west side of moat wood. Inscribed into the base it reads:
“To the memory of the birth of George Grey Earl of Harold son of Henry and Sophia Duke & Duchess of Kent” 1702
Lakes and Ponds in the park
The park boasts two big lakes, a water garden and other ponds inhabited by the common frog, toad and newts. Fish including Pike, Carp, Chub and Roach. And lovely waterbirds such as the Mute Swan Mallard Duck, Coot, Moorhen and Mandarin Duck.
Facilities in the park
Walking through the park I came across a tea shop supporting the running of the wildlife hospital and animal sanctuary, the Trent Park Cafe and the Go Ape activity centre. I am told there is a sports ground somewhere in the park (Southgate Hockey Centre) and a separate golf course. Public toilets are located next to Trent Park Cafe and there are several car parks around the park.
The park can get very muddy, especially in January so make sure you pack your boots or wellies!