About the 500RH

I grew up in Nottinghamshire, so from early childhood I was immersed in the legends of Robin Hood. Whenever my parents hosted visitors, Nottingham Castle and The Major Oak were always on the itinerary.

I remember being bought Robin Hood hats, wooden swords and bow & arrow sets as a child. Then as a teenager, I even tried archery for real with a friend of my mum’s.

With only three TV channels to choose from, there was always a film or TV series about Robin Hood playing during my childhood. I seemed to be surrounded by the legends throughout my formative years.

The 500RH journey started by walking the Robin Hood Way – Long Distance Footpath. This 84 mile walking route was created in 1984 by members of the Nottingham Wayfarers’ Rambling Club, linking places in Nottinghamshire with connections to the legend.

I also enjoy cycling, but being a walker’s route, much of the Robin Hood Way is off limits to cyclists, so I set about adapting the route to use nearby cycle friendly roads and tracks. This became my Robin Hood Cycle Way, which is available in a separate book.

The final step towards the 500RH came with the popularity of Scotland’s NC500, SWC300 and Heart200. It was not too big a leap for my imagination to begin extending my cycling route to something more suited to motorised transport.

Initially, I expected my Robin Hood Route to be around 200 miles, taking in the more obvious locations in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincoln. The research proved every bit as interesting as the traveling, since I learned so many more legends and factual connections to Robin Hood and his story. The research provided destinations much further into Lincolnshire, as well as north through most of the Ridings of Yorkshire.

Introduction to the 500RH

At first, I planned only to link the locations in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. But, as I researched deeper, I found the connection with Castle Bytham in a stunning part of Lincolnshire.

I also took a closer look at Yorkshire, which has long held competitive claims to being Robin Hood’s home county.

I knew of Robin Hood’s Bay, on the North Yorkshire coast, but did not know of any firm link to the legends. Digging deeper, I learned about the sites at Stoop Brow and Whitby Laithes, which gave extra purpose to a drive through North Yorkshire.

In the end, I came up with the 540 mile route presented to you as the Robin Hood 500.

Northern Scotland is graced with sparse population, making navigation around the north coast a straightforward affair. The trade-off for that ease of navigation, is the many hours of travel in reaching even the starting point at Inverness. Navigation around my 500RH does take a bit more planning, but the route is central to Great Britain, and rather more accessible to those of us in England.


I began with a route linking only places with significance to the Robin Hood legend.

But as I travelled around the route, I realised that I would do our beautiful country an injustice by not mentioning the many interesting places I passed through.

It would take a long holiday to visit everywhere I recommend during a single journey, which leaves you with options about how to use the 500RH.

  • The journey could be completed over a few days, in the same way that travellers use the NC500. This would entail picking out the highlights and travelling past everything else.
  • The option I chose was to complete the journey in several sections, spending time exploring the places along the way.
Robin Hoods Bay 2

Your method of travel is also open to your personal choice. I used a mix of motorcycle and small camper van to travel the route. The entire route can be completed by either form of transport (except the few locations where the final approach must be on foot or by cycle). If you have a caravan, or a large motor home, I have suggested in the 500RH guidebook, and on the appropriate Itinerary, where a diversion around the narrower roads might be appropriate.

As I planned and travelled the route, I became fascinated with the legends, and how they have developed over the centuries. My previous career was as a Police Officer. We often said that there were three versions to every story. Each person in a dispute had their own version, and the truth would inevitably fall somewhere in between. This appears to be the case with the legends of Robin Hood. There are some people who write it all off as pure fantasy, while others favour a closer link with real people. As with most things, the truth will occupy the middle ground. The medieval peasantry justifiably disliked the taxation regime they lived under. They would have provided a combination of produce, money and labour to a hierarchy of overlords. Any story about someone getting the better of this system would have gained traction as a folk-hero. During a time when stories were sung, rather than written down, many versions appear to have merged into a single narrative.

There are a few occasions where I have found links from the legends to real people.

The most notable is through Robert Hode, who lived in the village of Loxley, near Sheffield during the 14 th century. Robert Hode does not appear to have stolen from the rich and given to the poor. In fact, his  outlaw status was due to an accidental killing on the family farm. There is some speculation that a real person named Robert Hode was buried in the grounds of Kirklees Priory in South Yorkshire. Even Tony Robinson’s Time Team became involved in this discussion, which has not been properly resolved.

Scarborough Castle
Whitby 2
Beauvale Priory

Nottinghamshire historian Brian Benison, spent many years researching connections of real Nottinghamshire men to the legends. Benison came up with a candidate named Roger Godberd, who was outlawed during the 13 th century. This claim has added credibility when linked to Reynold de Grey, who was one of the feudal barons of Derbyshire’s Codnor Castle, and was a very unpopular Sheriff of Nottingham.

I recount all of these stories, and many others with less credibility, in the 500RH guidebook. While some are more fanciful than others, they all made for a very interesting research project.

I make no claims to the accuracy in any of my stories. These are legends, which have been embellished over many hundreds of years. They do however, add some colour to our journey through five beautiful English counties.

There are many different ways to enjoy The Robin Hood 500. The 500RH guidebook and the Itineraries within the 500RH website give you plenty of ideas. I hope you enjoy your journey, in whatever way you travel.