Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Walesby Forest

On the edge of my village lies Walesby Forest, an area of woodland and open heath. On the edge of this land the original King's Great Highway runs North & South above the River Maun. This was the main road between London and York from Saxon times until the 1200's, after which a more westerly route became more popular.

                                                          Walesby Forest from the King's Great Highway

A local historian believed that a battle was fought here in ancient times. It was believed that it was fought by 2 Saxon armies though I cannot find any references to it. A battle was fought in the general area, known as the Battle of the Idle in A.D. 616. Most historians believe this was on the banks of the River Idle on the boundary between South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. However, there are references to it being located further south in the Retford area. The Idle is formed by the confluence of the rivers Maun & Meden a couple of miles from Walesby Forest.  Some have suggested that the river at this point )now called the Maun) may have been known as the Idle and this is the location of the battle by the side of the King's Great Highway.

Most of the Forest is now a Scout Centre owned by the UK Scouting Association. The land was owned by the Savile family of Rufford Abbey but was given to the scouts to use for camping and other activities. It is now (in 2011) used by many groups other than scouts and has a wide range of activities. There is an International Jamboree held every 5 years which can attract 10,00 Scouts & guides from around the world.

The King's Highway lost national importance many centuries ago and was only used by occasional local traffic. It now forms a bridleway for use of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders that connects to various other bridleways that criss-cross Sherwood.

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