It is a few weeks ago now, but I feel praise must be given to everyone who made Doncaster Walking Festival – May 26 to June 3 – a great success.
Jokingly we said at the start of this venture,“ If we get one Doncaster resident to start walking regularly, it would be a success” But of course, how can we know, and anyway it’s a festival, not a test. We aimed to share the joy of walking with our fellow Doncastrians. And so they came, mostly in small groups, families, individuals, couples, 163 non-ramblers in fact during the nine-day festival, taking in 27 separate events and 148 miles.
For example, 13 people including a family with children, enjoyed a lovely walk from Markham Grange on May 27, crossing fields in bright sunshine, with a cooling breeze and through Hampole Wood in the shade. A young walker took over the leader’s yellow ‘jersey’ for part of the walk – one for the future perhaps?
Also on that day, with a repeat on Wednesday around 15 participants joined a speciality walk and enjoyed learning about some common and some slightly more unusual trees, while enjoying a five mile walk. Coppiced hazel, Cedar of Lebanon, Black Locust and Larch were among the many specimens and, hopefully, those attending can answer questions like: Which tree has “keys”? What is the world’s oldest wooden artefact? What held Viking longboats together? Which tree should you avoid parking under? Everyone enjoyed their arboreal stroll and especially hearing about the uses of various woods and the associated myths and legends.
Things don’t always run smoothly, so when finding the Trans-Pennine-Trail blocked, having to go “off Piste” only added to the excitement for those that walked around Sprotbrough, Conisborough, and onwards to Cudworth Hall, in what turned out to be a sunny day. This was an enchanting meander through varies landscapes, canal bank, field and forest, enjoyed by all.
And what about the bees? You can’t have a walking festival without bees! So it was that warm sunny weather greeted around a dozen excited honey lovers who assembled at the start of another walk, on the quaint ‘Landing’ in Fishlake village. After a short introduction to the medieval history of Fishlake the walkers set off to experience firsthand the leafy and quiet footpaths and green lanes which surround the village.
The handful who came on the Swinton walk knew the famous boxer – “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” - but all were surprised how many champion fighters came from the area, most growing up in pubs. Similarly the few that walked in Austerfield on Bank holiday Monday learnt about William Butten who died on the Mayflower, just days before reaching land.
Another walk started at Bentley, and those taking part were surprised to discover that you can find tranquil and attractive countryside within a stone’s throw of some of Doncaster’s busiest villages.
Our Festival ended with a guided tour through Hatfield Moors to view the cotton grass and conservation work being done by Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum.
One more walker or not, we think the whole thing was a success. Two lucky winners received prizes donated by GoOutdoors Doncaster.
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