A year of volunteering on the Don

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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 volunteer@dcrt.org.uk.


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 – sheffieldhistorytours.com

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.

A busy week with budding River Guardians.

DCRT’s community engagement team have been busy this week. With schools being back after their summer holidays we’ve taken a lot of bookings for our River Guardians program to ease them back into the year with a bit of river fun. We had 123 individuals in total out from Gerard’s Primary, Wybourne Primary and Swallownest Beavers where we did a bit of river dipping, talked about what animals live in the River Don, reasons why salmon have been absent from the River Don for 200 years (and why they’re coming back!) and how to stay safe near waterways.

collage.jpg-1Here’s a collage of drawings from pupils at St. Gerard’s detailing ‘their favourite thing from the day’.

If you’d like a school that you know of to be involved with our FREE River Guardians program please contact us at info@dcrt.org.uk or call us on 01302 796173.

Wildlife on the Way!

The Don Valley Way is a trail that stretches from the centre of Doncaster to the centre of Sheffield. It’s a whopping 29 miles in total and takes you through some fantastic areas that flourish with wildlife. Explore the geology of Sprotbrough, the history of Mexborough, the heritage of Sheffield and more!

The wildlife on this walk couldn’t be more varied. With many species of dragonfly, a whole array of birds, and if you’re lucky you might even see a grass snake! The range of plants along this trail is absolutely phenomenal, with red campion lighting up the greenery to garlic mustard creating aromas.

Here’s a few of my personal favourites from the Doncaster to Mexbrough section of the walk:


Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) – Mainly found along slow-flowing lowland streams and rivers, particularly those with muddy bottoms.
Credit: Joshua Laidlow


Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus Icarus) – Adults drink nectar from flat-headed flowers. Caterpillars eat wild, leguminous plants such as bird’s-foot trefoil, rest harrow and white clover.
Credit: Joshua Laidlow


Red Campion (Silene dioica) – Red Campion was used as a herbal medicine in order to treat snakebites!
Credit: Joshua Laidlow


Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa Atalanta) – This species of butterfly has only had its name since 1799! It’s names before that have been Admiral, Alderman, Admirable and Scarlet Admiral!
Credit: Joshua Laidlow

You can find the full list of the species that you can find here!

by Joshua Laidlow
Project Apprentice