Doncaster Ramblers: A walk along the River Don

On a beautiful bright and warm sunny morning 11 of us set out from the Three Horse Shoes pub to walk the north bank of the River Don to Sprotbrough.

By David Gadd
Monday, 18th April 2022, 3:24 pm
Updated Monday, 18th April 2022, 3:24 pm

Most of the time we were on the river bank, with fine views all around.

We droped down to pass through the hamlet of Newton before regaining the bank after a short muddy section in woods, complete with fallen trees.

We headed southwards on the big curve opposite Hexthorpe Flats before passing under the first of three bridges.

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The final bridge was the mighty motorway bridge over the Don Gorge

The first was the main railway line between Doncaster and Sheffield. This was followed by an old mineral line, now part of the Trans Pennine Trail, which runs between Southport, on the Irish Sea, to Hornsea, on the North Sea.

It’s a 215 mile trail, with spurs to Leeds, York, Chesterfield, etc.

The final bridge was the mighty motorway bridge over the Don Gorge which carries the ever-thundering traffic on the A1(M) between north and south.

After this bridge we entered Engine Wood, so named after the pump which was commissioned by Sir Godfrey Copley in the late 17th century for the purpose of extracting water from the river and conveying it to the roof of Sprotbrough Hall to gravity feed his gardens, which included the Great Canal, the Little Canal, the Great Fountain and the Crescent Pool.

Ramblers pictured along the banks of the River Don

By 1707 a 35’ long lead-lined heated swimming pool had been added in the grounds.

It is said that the inspiration for such a venture was conceived when Sir Godfrey visited Chatsworth House in Derbyshire and was shown the Emperor fountain, with its jet of 290’ by the then Duke of Devonshire.

The pump, powered by a waterwheel driven by the flow of the river, was powerful enough to raise water to tanks 100’ above. The swimming pool could be filled in five hours.

The river and pump also supplied the village until the water became too polluted.

Back in the 22nd century we then enjoyed a break for refreshments before the return journey.

The original plan was to return via the south side of the Don but this would have meant leaving the Don at Hexthorpe Flats to walk through Hexthorpe and into Doncaster, through the bus station and across the North Bridge.

We agreed that the pleasanter walk would be along the north bank again, and this is what we did, exploring the last section by crossing the new bridge, built to replace the previous one which was swept away. This was not a perfect ending to the walk - the north bank is better.

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Remember while out observe the Countryside Code and give way to other walkers.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​