On Location: Visiting Robin Hood's Nottingham

tk Universal Studios
Ridley Scott's Robin Hood gives Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett top billing, but the real starts are Britain's ancient oak forests and Wales' unspoiled beaches. Viewers inspired by the scenery can travel back in time to shoot arrows in the real Sherwood Forest, explore infamous dungeons and underground caves, see costumes and props from the film and raise a glass of locally brewed Robin Hood ale in a medieval pub. Then they can add on a day in Wales to explore the sweeping pristine beach where cast and crew camped out for days, enjoying the hospitality of local pubs, bistros and clubs.

The historic East Midlands market town of Nottingham is only an hour and a half from London via train. You don't have to rob from the rich to stay here: Prices for accommodation and meals are significantly lower in Nottingham and its surrounding towns than in London, Edinburgh, or Dublin. Locals are friendly and Robin Hood himself (or historical re-enactors who look just like him) can be seen giving city tours with bow and arrow and feathers in their caps.

Photo Caption: Scene from the film Robin Hood.
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Nottingham Castle, Nottingham, England Anne Ackermann
What: A 17th-century Ducal Castle built on the site of the original Nottingham Castle constructed in 1048 by William the Conqueror. This is where the real Sheriff of Nottingham would have carried on his nefarious doings.

Why: Robin Hood set decorator, Sonja Klaus donated Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and Mark Strong's costumes from the film along with props and other outfits for a special Robin Hood movie exhibit. The castle also features underground tours that focus on the warren of ancient tunnels that connect the site with the nearby Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem pub and inn nearby. Robin Hood and his men would have hidden from the Sheriff of Nottingham in this cool underground world that honeycombs most of the city.

Where: In the center of town, within walking distance of historic pubs, shopping and restaurants at Friar Lane off Maid Marian Way.

How Much: Adults £5.50, Family Ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children) £15. Tickets give joint admission to the Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard, a 5 minute walk away on Castle Boulevard.

When:
The Robin Hood film costume exhibit will be open until October, 2010 but the Castle and its museum is open year-round

More Info: tel. +44 115/9153700; www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk.

Photo Caption: Nottingham Castle, Nottingham, England.
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The Galleries of Justice Museum, Nottingham. Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/leehaywood/4290504702/" target="_blank">Lee J Haywood/Flickr.com</a> Lee J Haywood
What: The former district prison and justice hall built on the site of the original medieval prison, said to have held Robin Hood before he was set free by his Merry Men.

Why: Spooky and atmospheric, the Galleries of Justice are said to be one of the most haunted sites in Nottingham. Many people, including the historic Robin Hood, have been incarcerated here over the years. The locals used to hang the worst offenders on the front steps. The Discovery Channel recently filmed the unearthing of an "oubliette" or hole of forgetfulness where the original Robin Hood was supposed to have been thrown by the Sheriff of Nottingham before his rescue by the Merry Men. The Justice Museum also hosts dinners presided over by the Sheriff of Nottingham for £49 per person in a booking of 12 or more. Costumes from the Kevin Costner Prince of Thieves film are on display along with other Robin Hood memorabilia in a free exhibit on the main floor.

Where: The Lace Market, Nottingham

How Much: Audio tours: adult £5.75, child £4.25; Historical reinactor tours (Wed-Sun only): adult £8.75, child £6.75, family £24.50 (2 adults, 2 kids, or 1 adult 3 kids)

When: 7 days a week, year round.

More Info: tel. +44 115/9520555; www.galleriesofjustice.org.uk

Photo Caption: The Galleries of Justice Museum, Nottingham. Photo by Lee J Haywood/Flickr.com.
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Arguable England's oldest drinking Inn, the Olde Trip to Jerusalem is situated on top of a web of ancient caves said to have been the meeting place of <em>Robin Hood</em> and his Merry Men. Gretchen Kelly
What: Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Inn, arguably one of the oldest pubs in Britain was said to have hosted Richard the Lionhearted to a last tankard of brew before he went off to the Crusades.

Why: An ancient pub with ties to the Knights Templar and Richard the Lionhearted (Robin's patron) has a series of underground caves said to be a Robin Hood hideout. You can tour the tunnels while you have a meal or a pint of microbrewery ale. Try the local "Trip to Jerusalem" or the seasonal "Robin Hood" ales.

Where: Brewhouse Yard, Nottingham.

When: Sun-Thu 10am-11pm, Fri-Sat 10am-midnight

More Info: tel. 0115 947 3171; www.triptojerusalem.com

Photo Caption: Arguable England's oldest drinking inn, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is situated on top of a web of ancient caves said to have been the meeting place of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
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The "Major" Oak, Sherwood Forest. Gretchen Kelly
What: Sherwood Forest, the 450 acre nature reserve is the home of one of the oldest living oaks in Britain (the "Major" Oak) which some say was a favorite meeting place of the real Robin Hood, Marian and the Merry Men. The Forest has its own Ridley Scott Robin Hood movie exhibit with props from the film, including a painted wagon and weaponry. Nearby, still on Sherwood Forest land is the Adrenalin Jungle Activity Centre where you can learn to shoot arrows in the woods, Russell Crowe-style.

Why: Crowe himself has said that his favorite part of shooting Robin Hood was learning the ancient art of archery. You can't get closer to the legend than to learn archery in Sherwood Forest -- ask for the wooden longbow, the most authentic way to hit the bull's eye.

Where: Sherwood Forest Country Park, Edwinstowe in Nottinghamshire; (www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/countryparks). Adrenalin Jungle Activity Centre, Deerdale Lane off A614, Bilsthorpe in North Nottingham (www.adrenalinjungle.com)

When:
Year-round.

How Much: Admission to the park is free, there is a £3 parking fee. Adrenalin Jungle Archery: £20 per person with a six-person minimum for a 60-minute session.

Photo Caption: The "Major" Oak, Sherwood Forest.
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Freshwater West Beach, Pembrokeshire. Visit Wales
What: The pristine Freshwater West Beach in Pembrokeshire was the centerpiece of the Robin Hood film's big battle scene. Crowe was apparently so taken by the beach that he camped out on the dunes with his family for several days rather than stay at the posh hotel director Ridley Scott had arranged .

Why: Beauty, views, clean water, wildlife and the nearby Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and National Park. Harry Potter fans will also recognize it as the site of Harry's Shell cottage from the next film. Also check out the nearby Carew Inn near the quaint seaside town of Tenby (www.carewinn.co.uk). Crowe loved the place so much, he left the staff a whopping £600 tip.

Where: Pembrokeshire, is about a three-hour drive from London and is accessible by rail from London's Paddington Station.

How Much: The Freshwater West Beach and nearby parking are free.

More Info: www.visitpembrokeshire.com or www.carewinn.co.uk.

For more on the film and its locales, visit www.visitbritain.us.

Gretchen Kelly has been writing about movies and travel ever since she began "awarding" films at Academy Award time for great locations in the New York Post travel section. Follow her on Twitter @gretchenkelly.

Photo Caption: Freshwater West Beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales.
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