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The Don Gorge Community Group has had the pleasure of hosting a team of helpers from the Co-op today. Organised by Dorothy Miller, the Doncaster Member Pioneer, about 20 members of staff from around the area have been Balsam Bashing. Over the past few years, we have been working to eradicate this invasive species from the Gorge and have seen signs of improvement. However, it is important to break their cycle of growth by pulling up the plants before they seed and any offers of help are much appreciated.


Well Summer is here and we have had a mixed bag of weather so far so, if you’ve been holidaying in this country, I expect you might have had to dodge a few showers. Hopefully you’ve seen a bit of the sun as well though and that it might continue until at least September!


The committee has met three times since I last wrote in April and a quick glance through the Minutes shows that we received grants from both Sprotbrough & Cusworth and Warmsworth Parish Councils towards our Public Liability Insurance. We are always grateful that we can ensure our conservation volunteers are covered whilst working on our behalf.


A regular group are now meeting on alternate Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the year and, whilst still working with Yorkshire Wildlife through the Summer, are continuing to work on the historic wall near the fish pass. The next dates for anyone wishing to join the group are Tuesday 16 July and Thursday 25 July.


We are very pleased to be able to host a group of staff to help with Balsam Bashing on Wednesday next 17 July. Our efforts towards eliminating this invasive species seem to be progressing well, with areas of grass appearing in place of the dreaded weed. It will be necessary to keep on top of it throughout the year, though, to stop it seeding again and, hopefully, there will be no flooding this Summer to carry seeds down the river to land on our shores again.


I had an enquiry from a group of walkers who asked whether a handrail might be erected at the side of the fairly steep steps, just beyond the Travellers’ site, which join a footpath leading to Cadeby Road just before the school. This set in motion quite an investigation, but it has now been established that it is on land belonging to DMBC and is the responsibility of the Asset department. As it is not registered as a Public Right of Way (PROW), however, we have registered an interest in making it one and hope to hear something in the not too distant future. In the meantime, our original request has been passed to the Asset department to see if they can provide a handrail. Who could have imagined what a hornet’s nest such a request would have provoked. We continue to live in hope.


A similar investigation ensued regarding a notice of works being carried out on the Cuckoo Bridge on Nursery Lane on 25 April. So far, I have failed to confirm who was responsible for it, but think it must be Highways England (Historical Railways Estate), but I have yet to receive a reply from them since writing in April and again in May. It would appear, however, that the rail track itself is privately owned.


Most of our energies, both physical and nervous have been employed in decision-making about the proposed car park on Nursery Lane. We have been talking to our solicitor, but discover this will entail more funding than expected. So far, most of the owners have very kindly agreed to either donate or sell 22 of the plots and, having come this far, we are loath to give up at the final hurdle.

For those not aware of our hope for a larger car park in the Gorge, the land in question, comprising 27 individual plots, is ideal for a car park as it already has a concrete base and would also provide space for other educational activities by interested groups. The 19 owners concerned purchased the land in the 1980s in order to protect it from other developments, so this makes it very difficult to talk to them altogether, as a number of them have moved away from Sprotbrough and now live in other parts of the country.

Some people have suggested that another car park is unnecessary as it will only attract more people to the area and spoil it, but this argument seems counter-productive, as people will still continue to come as it is a free, open area. People have visited the Gorge for two hundred years at least, when there were few buses and no cars, so there is no reason to expect them not to come in greater numbers now and in future. The number of vehicles passing through the Gorge has vastly increased over the past 15-20 years, and similarly the number of people wanting to stop off here for an hour or two. The increase in the number of cyclists on the greatly-improved Trans-Pennine Trail also brings vehicles carrying cycles so that families can ride the trail from here.

Another argument put forward against it is that people will not want to walk down Nursery Lane to the river. However, there are many beautiful places in this country that can only be reached by walking so, if the only way to protect the Don Gorge is to encourage that, then surely that is what should happen. It is already possible to see how the grass verge on Nursery Lane has been degraded by the parking of vehicles on it to the detriment of wild flowers. It is also dangerous for pushchairs and wheelchair users when vehicles park on the footpath on the bend near the Boat Inn, making them have to walk into the bend in the middle of the road. Parking on the private road which prevents emergency access to the river bank as well as the cottages, is also unacceptable. If we are successful, people would be able to walk directly into the woodland and there is also a chance that a woodland walk can be created from the car park towards the Boat Inn.

An application has been made to the Co-op Community Fund to become one of the three charities to be supported by them. If we are successful, we would not receive anything until the end of next year but, if successful, it could help with the creation of the car park. If anyone has any other good fundraising ideas, they would be welcome.

I therefore appeal to you, as the Friends of the Don Gorge, to support our intention to preserve the Gorge in a natural state for future generations.

Any comments, for or against, this scheme would still be very useful and should be addressed to me.

SCARECROW FESTIVAL - 7/8 September 2019

This is being run again this year and our group has entered. Our scarecrow is to be made by our conservation volunteers and will be sited in the Well at Lower Sprotbrough so I hope everyone will come and have a look at it. I understand programmes with a map of sites will be on sale nearer the time. It is in aid of the Children’s Society and Action for Children.


We have been successful in obtaining two small grants for this project, £300 as seed funding from DMBC and £500 from Healthwatch, for which we are very grateful as it will help us to pay for room hire. We have also been able to receive a recorder for interviews and other stationery items. It is hoped to produce a plan of the village as well as a book by next Spring. We have just been encouraged to apply to the South Yorkshire Community Foundation for a grant for the latter.

I have decided to send this Newsletter to the Friends of the Don Gorge and those of the Sprotbrough Oral History group so, if you receive it twice, I hope you will forgive me and just delete one of them.

Have a great Summer.

Liz Reeve, Secretary

Tel: 01302 313030





Sprotbrough Oral History

Project Manager