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Rother Wetlands
Canklow Meadows, Old Flatts & Blue Man's Bower, & Whiston Meadows

Canklow Meadows are the old washlands of the River Rother now largely covered by industry. Further upstream there are the Old Flatts and Blue Man's Bower, an area of flooded grassland alongside the Rother. Whiston Meadows is a small site in the narrow valley of Whiston Brook.

Canklow Meadows

Canklow Meadows are the former washlands of the River Rother which are now underneath industrial estates and protected from flooding by being on a raised platform. Trading estates, works and the new development at Bradmarsh Park (high tech offices I think), the Town Mill at Bow Bridge and the Canklow Relief Road all now cover the area. In the area just south of Bow Bridge there were oxbow lakes and the river regularly flooded here but I think that this has all been 'improved' by recent development.

I have noticed that there are public footpaths along the river here for a small section. I really must go and walk them one day. A new footpath from Whiston to Canklow has been opened - I've got it on my list!

Old Flatts & Blue Man's Bower

Old Flatts and Blue Man's Bower are shown on the survey of the River Rother. I can find no mention of Old Flatts in any of the wildlife areas other than this but it is the area alongside the river around Old Flatts farm north of Treeton. Blue Man's Bower is an area of flooded grassland further downstream situated in a small area between the M1 to the south, Rotherway to the east and the A631 Bawtry Road to the north. Water levels vary through the year but it is usually wet here, so wear wellies if walking. There is a public footpath close by and there are many species of birds to be observed.

Blue Man's Bower
Blue Man's Bower
© Nikki Mahadevan

There is an old packhorse bridge over the former course of the Ulley Brook. Buried in a hawthorn glade are the remains of the Blue Man's Bower. It is an earthwork consisting of an oblong rectangle about 17 by 12 yards, with the plateau raised about three feet above the surrounding land, and a moat that was once fed by the Rother. The origin or purpose of this site is not known for it was not recorded until 1668. The name sounds romantic but historians believe that it may be a corruption of words meaning 'parish boundary stone'. I prefer to think of it as place inhabited by Celts decked out in woad.

Whiston Meadows

Whiston Meadows lies in the narrow valley of Whiston Brook, between Whiston and Blue Man's Bower. The western half is informally managed and has two ponds and associated wetlands, with stands of alder, birch and willow species. The steep southern slope of the valley, known as Whiston Bank was once quarried for sandstone. The Bank is now being managed by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. Whiston Brook runs through the length of the site and still holds brown trout and a whole host of smaller fish. The brook joins the old course of the Rother near the site of the old mill. The old Rother has greatly silted up but still provides a series of ponds with a good population of amphibians and insects. The cut off remains of the Ulley Brook, now diverted to flow by the side of the Whiston - Treeton footpath is a lush wetland.

This area has changed a great deal in the 20th Century, the old mill and the new mill have both gone, as have Haworth Hall (demolished 1965 to make way for an electricity substation), the Haworth Hall ponds and fountain has gone by 1935 as had the Rotherham Main Cricket Club Pavilion. Then the powers that be built the M1 motorway right over (and I do mean over) the meadows so no matter where you walk you can hear the traffic. It is nice to know that the area described on old maps as 'Liable to flooding' is still liable to flooding when Mother Nature cocks one of her regular snooks at humankind.

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