The Don Gorge, set within the parishes of Warmsworth and Sprotbrough, though perhaps little known outside its local area, is an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is a popular fishing and bird watching area and well visited.
Visitors to Doncaster may be interested to know that this jewel in Doncaster’s crown is a mere three miles from the centre of town and, for a relaxing day out in the country, there is nowhere better.
The history of the Gorge goes back to prehistoric times when perhaps a hairy mammoth roamed the earth and the River Don was but a beautifully clear natural stream. It certainly changed from that once the Industrial Revolution got underway, but in the last fifty or sixty years has undergone yet another change with salmon and lampreys beginning to return to the river.
The Gorge is accessible from Warmsworth to the west of Doncaster, via the A630, when it is approached round several bends. Parking for two or three cars is possible by the hairpin bend, giving access to the latest site of special interest, the Fish and Eel Pass. The foundations of a mill, used for the fulling or felting of woollen cloth and later the grinding of flint for the pottery industry, were uncovered during its building. Completed early in 2014, and endowed with a sculpture, it is approached down the lane which once led to Levitt Hagg, where a village and quarry were located until the 1950s.
The cliffs in the Gorge still provide limestone today though this activity is less intrusive on the landscape than it was in the past. Levitt Hagg was a thriving village for a time, also being famed for its boat-building, but there is little of that to see today except some remains of lime kilns, the Village and its Mission Room having been pulled down and the quarry having been land-filled.
Coming from the north, via the A1, visitors will need to turn right before arriving in Doncaster to pass through Sprotbrough village where a Norman church still stands. Turning left here, you will pass the one-time home of the late Douglas Bader, the WW2 flying ace, and going down the hill, the flat-topped Toll House will soon come into view, though no charge is payable to pass over the canal and River Don these days.
Turning right onto Nursery Lane before the bridges will bring you to the north side of the river and The Boat Inn at Lower Sprotborough, where Sir Walter Scott is reputed to have written a chapter of ‘Ivanhoe’ when researching Conisbrough Castle, a few miles further along the river. A small amount of parking can be found by the landing stage of the River Don and a short walk will take you to the Lock. The ‘Wyre Lady’ can be hired for groups of people wanting to party on the River Don.
Sprotborough Flash, coming into being in the early 1900s as a result of coal mining in the area, can be found by either walking along the river bank or taking the unmade road behind the Boat Inn. It is now a wonderful source of food for visiting water birds, herons, kingfishers and the occasional osprey flying in whilst the Boat Inn can supply the needs of hungry travellers.
Certainly an area not to be missed.
“The River Don from Source to Sea”, available from Doncaster Tourist Information Office, and Doncaster Museum, and other book shops in the area, describes a journey along the River Don from the moors above Penistone to Goole, before joining the Ouse and the Humber estuary.
With approx. 180 photographs, it follows the infant river through reservoirs, to industrial Sheffield, from where the navigation system comes into its own.
THE DON GORGE CALENDAR 2017
Our first calendar, in full colour and depicting aspects of the Don Gorge, will be available soon, complete with an envelope so that it can be posted to friends and relatives.
Copies will cost £5 each, but orders may be placed in advance at the reduced price of £4.
We currently have three leaflets available, “The Don Gorge”, “Visitors Guide” and “Walks from Warmsworth”, which can be downloaded from our own or the ‘Visit Doncaster’ website. However, we would like to expand our range by producing a series of information leaflets on particular topics. We would therefore be interested to hear from anyone who has expertise in, for example, trees, flowers, birds, geology, butterflies and moths, etc, who would be willing to provide information for such leaflets.
FRIENDS OF THE DON GORGE
Anyone wishing to become a Friend of the Don Gorge should send their name, address, telephone number and email address to the Secretary
Tel: 01302 313030
All enquiries or offers should be made to the Secretary, Liz Reeve lives in Sprotbrough and is Secretary to the Don Gorge Community Group.