Campaigners fight for the fabled last resting place of Robin Hood

Legend tells how Robin Hood told Little John: “Bury me where my arrow falls” as he lay dying in the gatehouse of Kirklees Priory.

Today the outlaw’s grave can be visited only once a year. But it is one of many reasons why campaigners are trying to protect the woodland in which he is buried from being sacrificed to a road-widening scheme.

A short distance from the grave, which has attracted visitors since the 16th century, is the A644 Wakefield Road. A steady stream of traffic thunders by, making it almost impossible to cross.

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While campaigners trying to save Nun Bank Wood, which clings to the steep valleyside, agree that air pollution and congestion on roads must be tackled – they say that should not involve the sacrifice of woodland at least 400 years years old.

Campaigners Hannah Longbottom and Heather Peacock are fighting plans for a road widening scheme which would destroy ancient woodland Picture: Simon Hulme

Heather Peacock, from Huddersfield, said: “Kirklees ought to be looking to protect it but seem desperate to get rid of it. One councillor said to me, ‘You can’t stop progress’. But I said, ‘It’s not progress – it’s going backwards’.

“Progress would be a free bus service to Leeds, sorting public transport out. The council has declared a climate emergency – you can’t have it both ways.”

She met fellow campaigner Hannah Longbottom when the council started cutting down mature trees near their neighbourhood park. Now the focus is on saving Nun Bank Wood from the project being funded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

They claim the plan is driven by plans for a separate link road, which will go across the River Calder and canal and a nature reserve to link up with a housing development planned for Bradley Golf Course.

Campaigners Heather Peacock and Hannah Longbottom (l to r) by the A644. The woodland is on the opposite side of the road. Picture: Simon Hulme

So far the public has been consulted over three options for widening the road – but were not offered a fourth of rejecting it altogether.

“They need to start getting inventive,” says Ms Longbottom. “There is always another way.”

No measurements have been given to say just how much woodland would have to be carved away from the bottom of the hill. “They said a swathe,” said Ms Peacock. “It could be anything.”

They argue there can be no justification for cutting down ancient woodland, which is by its nature irreplaceable. Only two per cent of the UK is ancient woodland and HS2 means even more will be lost.

Ms Longbottom said: “Robin Hood stood up for those who couldn’t speak for themselves.

“We have seen a decline in songbirds, all kinds of animals, insects. Ecosystems are seriously under threat. We have to cling on to what we have.”

Kirklees Cabinet member for regeneration Peter McBride said the council was aware of concerns over the woodland.

He said: “The council has previously consulted on options for this scheme with local residents, landowners, businesses and other bodies and is now considering the comments received.

"The council is aware of concerns raised regarding ancient woodland.

"Options will now be developed further and there will be additional opportunities to comment before the scheme is finalised.”