Don Catchment Rivers Trust wins National Lottery support

The Don Catchment Rivers Trust has received initial support* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its Hidden Heritage Secret Streams project, it was announced today. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to benefit natural and historic heritage associated with the rivers of the upper Rother Catchment in North East Derbyshire.

Development funding of £57,000 has also been awarded to help the Trust progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date, with a further £30,000 being provided by the Environment Agency.

It is expected that the project will be made up of several elements. One is the restoration of a 700 m stretch of the River Rother that was straightened in the 1960s during a time when its water was too polluted to support life. The river will be put back into its original meandering channel, restoring the wide range of habitats required to sustain a wildlife rich river.

Other elements of the project will involve local communities. The Trust will work with volunteers to dig ponds and plant trees to trap sediment and pollution, clear up rubbish and ‘balsam bash’ (eradicate Himalayan Balsam, an invasive plant species). A history project will document forgotten watermills, which were a critical source of power during the early industrial revolution. There will also be a programme of events such as guided walks, training and river dipping.

Commenting on the award, Ed Shaw from the DCRT said: “We’re very grateful to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players. Historically rivers and industry were strongly interlinked, which is something we celebrate in this project. We now live in an exciting time when river wildlife is returning to our rivers and this project offers many opportunities for people to get stuck in and make a positive difference to wildlife and improve our understanding of the area’s important industrial history.”
Notes to editors
About the Project Area
The project area is the upper Rother Catchment, the area of land that drains into the upper section of the River Rother. It borders southern Sheffield and contains the towns of Chesterfield, Stavely, Dronfield and Eckington. The main tributaries of the upper River Rother are the Moss Brook, the Barlow Brook, the River Drone, the Holme Brook, the River Hipper, the Spital Brook, and the Redleadmill Brook.

About The Don Catchment Rivers Trust
Don Catchment Rivers Trust is a charity that has been established to help protect and restore the rivers in the River Don catchment area, this includes not just the River Don but also the River Dearne, River Rother and other rivers such as the Sheaf, Went, Ea Beck and many others.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.
*HLF Heritage Grants (HG) applications are assessed in two rounds. The Don Catchment Rivers Trust has initially been granted round one development funding of £57,300 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £476,300.


The Moss Project So Far

The new project in the Moss valley is funded by Yorkshire water and Don Network grants. Heading up the project is Matt Duffy, project assistant in the DCRT, being assisted by me (Anthony the apprentice).

On our first day working on the project our team worked with Dr Paul Gaskell from the Wild Trout Trust. We began our attempt to unblock the area around the weir, first removing any debris in the way, such as large logs and trees. To do this we used a winch provided by the Wild Trout Trust to move the larger logs downstream.  As we pressed on we removed lots of the vegetation that was blocking the weir and it is now flowing.2017-11-22 21.05.58   Later in the project me and Matt worked together in felling some trees along the moss. The first tree we felled we used to reinforce the bank as it had been eroded away and the footpath was at risk of falling into the river. This will reduce the amount of erosion on the bank so the footpath will be preserved for a little longer. The rest of the trees were placed into habitat piles that can become a home to insects as they feed on the decaying wood and are also sheltered from the elements.20171201_123439  In the project we have also done some tree kicking led by Paul Gaskell. On the day we also worked with our trustee Chris Firth and my sister. Tree kicking is when you cut into the tree and bend it into the river so it can still grow creating habitat for marine invertebrates and also channels the river to increase the flow speed which reduces the flood risk.

moss 24th nov

This past week Matt and I have been brush cutting some of the brambles in the area to try and stop them taking over and allowing new woodland or a meadow to form on the wetland as the brambles can outcompete them. Also the area was previously a wet meadow and would have been kept under control by grazing animals but due to mechanisation on farms and fear of foot and mouth the area is no longer grazed so it is up to people to step I and prevent the brambles taking over. On one of these days one of our dedicated volunteers helped us rake the cut brambles into habitat piles.20171214_120656   If you would like to help us on any of our moss days we have some volunteer days booked in (see our events calendar), or contact Matt Duffy and he can provide you with the dates of our Moss days.


A year of volunteering on the Don

infographic 2017-1
180 conservation volunteers came out to help clean up the Don this year, contributing 1329 hours of their time to the protection of the rivers in the Don catchment. One of our volunteers contributed an incredible 84 hours to the cause!

Our volunteer team have been tidying tow-paths, pulling trolleys from the water and picking lots of litter – 1647 bags of litter in fact! Litter of this scale contributes to local flood-risk, increases water pollution and is eventually washed out to our seas where it poses a great risk to marine life. The waste we find mainly includes unbiodegradable plastic bottles and tin cans dumped on waterside paths, as well as larger fly-tipped items. Trolleys, chairs, prams, tyres, sofas and vacuum cleaners are regularly found and removed from the river by the team. As well as clean-ups we’ve also been improving access on riverside footpaths and maintaining vegetation along the Don Valley Way.

A big thank you to all our incredible volunteers – whose hard-work has really made a difference to the once-neglected riversides in Sheffield, Rotherham & Doncaster.

Our volunteer days run on Tuesdays and Thursdays most weeks and include training. If you would like to volunteer with us in the new year contact our team by emailing

Don Network Day 2017


Yesterday was Don Network Day at Kelham Island Industial Museum, an annual event organised by Don Catchment Rivers Trust & Environment Agency – joint hosts of the Don Network. This catchment-based approach (CaBA) project aims to bring together groups and projects on the river don catchment,to encourage partnership working, to identify priorities and overcome issues within the sub-catchments.



DCRT’s Chairperson – David Rowley (above), started off the day by giving a small introduction to the Don Network and how it operates.

Next, Environment Agency’s catchment coordinator for Don and Rother – Jo Briddock, took us though a presentation on their ‘environmental program’ and gave an insight into how funding streams are distributed amongst their priorities. A refreshing start to the talks as she explains there is the money available to achieve organisation’s objectives and encouraged delegates to contact her with ideas for projects and what match funding the EA might be available for them.

A big theme for the day appeared to be partnership working, an ethos the CaBA tries to encourage. Keith Tomkins’s (SRWT) Sheffield Lakeland Landscape Partnership, Michael Roger’s (YWT) Humberhead Levels Project and Pete Wall’s (YWT) Dearne Valley Green Heart Partnership presentations all proved what can be achieved when working in partnership to connect disparate nature reserves with wildlife corridors- a true inspiration!

20171109_102232Keith Tomkins from Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust


20171109_120747Pete Wall from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Finn Barlow-Duncan, iCASP impact officer offered opportunities for organisations to be partnered-up with academic researchers in developing effective evidence-based riverine projects. This is something Dr Ben Aston – lead advisor in ecology and biodiversity to Yorkshire Water – touched upon when giving insight into evidence-based methods in stopping or reversing the spread of invasive non-native species in water systems.


The day concluded with Nicky River’s (SRWT) presenting how last year’s Don Network grants allowed them to catch footage of otters on the Don through their ‘Otterly Amazing’ project. After which Don Network project coordinator Rachel Walker announced the launch of the next round of grants. Click here to see how to apply.


Thank you to everyone that came and to the speakers at the event. We hope that attendees found it useful and that all the good work on the Don catchment continues.


If you’re interested in being involved in next year’s Don Network Day make a note to keep Thursday 8th November 2018 (tbc) free.

Darker side of the Don

It was Halloween Eve. Meeting local historian – Ron Clayton, at the top of the Wicker he led us on a night walk along the shadowy streets that follow the River Don.


Starting at Lady’s Bridge, Ron painted vivid images of the bridge in Victorian England and covered deathly tales of the old Sheffield Castle that stood at the confluence of the rivers Don and Sheaf.

20171030_194900.jpgMoving upstream, we stood next to the memorial at Millsands and took a moment to remember to the victims of the 1864 flood when Dale’s Dyke Dam broke.

Before ending the walk at the haunted Ship Inn in Shalesmoor we stopped at industrial Kelham Island where ghost stories were swapped.


Thank you to everyone that came and to Ron for leading the walk.

If you’re interested in more of Ron’s walk click this link –

A fungi foray in Canklow woods

We were in Canklow Woods for our fungi foray last week!


Ecologist, Julie Riley guided a group of 17 through the varied and interesting fungi that these woods had to offer. Whilst regaling us with facts and folk tales surrounding the different species Julie helped identify a number of specimens some of which included:  brown birch bolete,  a stinkhorn species, trooping funnel, blushing bracket,  turkeytail, a russula species, an earthball species and jelly ear. We also found…


oysterling (photo – nicole kelly)



fly agaric (photo – nicole kelly)



birch polypore (photo – nicole kelly)


This particular species – although initially unidentifiable – turned out to be Contorted Pipe Club. Although not particularly rare the National Biodiversity Network atlas indicated it had not been included in local records before. So we’ve help discover a first for Rotherham’s fungi records!

The fun didn’t stop there…

DCRT had a craft stall making seasonal pine cone critters, fungi stone art and bird feeders.


Also Tim Stevens from Living Adventure set up his tarpaulin and took people through different bush craft techniques for lighting fires after which we had toasted marshmallow smores.


DCRT just want to say a big thank you to Julie, Tim, Rotherham Council and everyone that came along to the day make this event a success. We hope this will end up being an annual event.

Introducing our new Environmental Conservation apprentice…

I’m Anthony and I’m the latest member of the Don Catchment Rivers Trust team. I’m 17 years old making me the youngest member of the team, and I am from Doncaster. My position as the latest Apprentice is a big change in my life as I move from full time education. My previous job was part time as a barista at costa coffee, which is odd as I can’t stand coffee. I dropped out of sixth form after my first year deciding that I wanted to get out and do something! I do believe this position is well suited to me as I enjoy being outside and from a young age I have had a keen interest in the environment.

Anthony at the end of his first Volunteer Day at Holmes Lock, Rotherham
   My hobbies include being a member of my explorer scout group, sailing and snowboarding. I snowboard every February in the small Swiss village of Kanderstag, and it is the favourite part of my year as I find it relaxing. I also help out as a young leader at Edenthorpe cub group where I help to run a whole range of activities for the young people who attend. I play the bass drum on parade for my local brass band (Armthorpe Elmfeild brass band), and I also assist them with moving equipment and instruments. I do enjoy a whole range of indie rock music and collect vinyl records because they sound so much better than downloads. My favourite bands include the Arctic Monkeys, the Kaiser Chiefs, and the Fratellis.

I hope to get a lot from my new role as I enjoy to learn new skills and to participate in community projects. I also have a keen interest in Geology which is my favourite subject at school, in which I have an AS level and hope that some of my knowledge will be useful. I have always had an interest in geology from a young age, I hope to learn more on the subject in my time with the trust. I’m a very practical person and I like to get things done rather than leave something till later.

So far my time at the trust has been amazing. I have enjoyed meeting all of the wonderful volunteers and helping make a difference to the environment. They all work incredibly hard and they should all be commended for their selflessness. The trust has done some incredible work over the last couple of years and has completed its project to install fish passes onto the weirs in the river Don, which allows the salmon to reach their spawning grounds in Sheffield. If the salmon do reproduce in the Don, it will be a huge achievement for the team. The trust also runs a wide range of activities that include everything from walks to talks and information about fungi to bat detecting. There’s a whole range of activities that can be seen on our Facebook page and on the events calendar section of our website.