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The River Don in Rotherham

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The River Don rises in Yorkshire in the Peak District, passes Penistone, Thurgoland, Wadsley Bridge, Crookes, to central Sheffield. Then it flows through Darnall and Tinsley, then east through Templeborough towards Canklow where it is joined by the Rother at Bow Bridge. The River Don then flows north through the centre of Rotherham where in places it is deeply embanked. From Rotherham it flows through Eastwood, Aldwarke, round the back of Thrybergh, east of Kilnhurst and Swinton. It then leaves the Borough of Rotherham heading down the Don Valley to guess where - you're right - Doncaster and onwards in a generally northerly direction to the Humber. The history of the River Don since the 1720s has been inextricably linked with Don Navigation Canal now the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation which is where can find further information.

Chantry Bridge
Chantry Bridge

The River Don enters the Borough of Rotherham at a point pretty much at the back of the Temple public house (now closed and called something else) on Sheffield Road. Where it flows by Blackburn Meadows and round the back of Magna (formerly Templeborough Steel Works) it is actually in the Borough of Sheffield. Much of the heavy industry built along the river valley has now gone but it is still an industrialised area full of small firms on a variety of trading estates.

The Don and the Rother join at Bow Bridge and the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation (canal) also joins a little further north. The river then flows northwards through the former industrial area called New York which is now home to the new Rotherham United ground New York Stadium and the civic offices at Riverside House. Canal and river split again as they pass the police station and continue their separate way past the Courthouse along the western edge of town. The River Don runs a course roughly parallel to Corporation Street and you can get a vary good view, should you want one, crossing the footbridge to Forge Island where Tescos is situated. There are no walks along the river except for a bit by Tescos, but there is, a sometimes pleasant, stroll along the canal towpath. You can view the Don at several points in Rotherham Town centre.

Although the Don is much cleaner that it was twenty or thirty years ago it is still not a pretty river. There are fish in it, there are ducks and other birds on it and that means there's pond weed somewhere, but it is often very brown and murky. After heavy rains the waters boil over the weir and surge through the embanked areas and frankly they smell pretty bad.

The Don leaves the centre of town flowing roughly north east by offices and works to Grafton Bridge and then on past the old tram sheds, the playing fields of Eastwood and the Fitzwilliam Trading Estate.

Between the river and canal here is a narrow island. I often wondered why nothing had been built on this but apparently there are large sloughs of deep mud which explains the large notices saying "Keep Out - Deep Mud". Or there were till the yobs tore them off and threw them away. There is hardly a year passes when the emergency services don't have to rescue some youth from the mud.

The river and the canal rejoin at Eastwood Lock and split up again very briefly at Aldwarke Bridge to avoid the weir.

Joining with the canal again on the north side of Aldwarke Lock the Don winds north-eastwards in a series of meanders through the Aldwarke Steel Works.

There is no path to walk here. River and canal split again at Kilnhurst flood lock and the Don continued to meander northwards where it forms part of the boundary between Rotherham and Doncaster. There is a concessionary path from Kilnhurst Ings north along the river across the site of the old tip. There are big levees as this is the floodplain or washlands of the river and is part of the flood control system. In June 2007 it looks as if much of this area was overwhelmed in the Big Flood. Certainly there was still a lot of rubbish hanging about.

South of Swinton Bridge the river turns in a more easterly direction in a course parallel to the canal. The river (and the canal) leave the Borough of Rotherham just south of Mexborough. There is a stretch of footpath show on my map but so far I have not walked this.

Page amended January 15

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