Column: Let's all have a grand day out in Donny
Doncaster doesn't immediately strike you as a tourist honeypot.
We’re not York with its cobbled streets and magnificent minster, or Scarborough with its stunning bays, and the borough can’t boast the jaw-dropping beauty of the Dales.
But we’re up there with the tourism big boys ... at least for day trippers. Noting that it’s English Tourism Week next week reminded me of some - on the surface of it - fairly stunning stats; between 2013-15 Doncaster had more daytrippers than Straford on Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace and mecca for international literature lovers. Some 6.46m people spend a day in our town, the Free Press reported. Wow - who knew?
There are some long-standing attractions of course, prime among them being the racecourse, home of the St Leger, the world’s oldest classic horse race that drew in some 200,000 visitors over that same three year period. Doncaster market used to attract coach parties from all over the north too. We’re now home to one of the country’s leading attractions, the Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
But when you look at Trip Advisor, our top attractions also include some lesser known venues. In at number one is Ashworth Barracks, the Balby military museum that celebrates our VC heroes. The Vulcan Experience which pays tribute to the Cold War bomber is in the top ten, as is the South Yorkshire Transport Museum. Brodsworth Hall, the restored Victorian gem that recently played a role in Oscar winning film Darkest Hour, is up there too. Potteric Carr, a nationally renowned wildlife reserve sitting alongside the East Coast Main Line and the M18 motorway, also gets a well-deserved mention. And let’s not forget Conisbrough Castle, one of the best preserved Norman keeps in the country. So, we’eve got a lot to celebrate, let’s not be afraid to shout about it - especially to people who think of Doncaster just as a place where they change trains.
Visit Doncaster is highlighting a number of special events to mark the week, which concludes, fittingly, with the Lincoln handicap, the opening of the flat racing season in the UK, at Town Moor on Saturday.
The tiny village of Fishlake is staging the biggest exhibition in its history. It tells the story of the monks who fled the Viking raids on Holy Island with the relics of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, sailing down the East Coast and into the River Don, landing at Fishlake.