GUIDE TO THE RIVER DON
(Stocksbridge (Deepcar) to Oughtibridge)
NAME OF RIVER: Don.
WHERE IS IT?: Don valley, Sheffield.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Get in just above Stocksbridge (SK 292 981). From Sheffield take the A6102 to just under the other side of the A616 after Stocksbridge. Here there is a car park. Get out at Sheffield canoe club's lock up just off the A6102 at Oughtibridge (SK309937) or for a slightly longer trip (SK 319 919).
APPROX LENGTH: 6km / 8km.
TIME NEEDED: 1-2 hours depending on play time - possibly up to 3 hours for the longer trip.
ACCESS HASSLES: OK. For shorter trip get out at Sheffield canoe club's lock up or carry on to the footbridge and egress river right across from Middlewood Tavern. Lower section OK and Sheffield canoe club have loads of information of the lower bit.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: At Oughtibridge if you can see the bottom of the weir it will be shallow and pretty naff. If the weir has quite a bit of water going down so it is all covered and a small to medium wave appears at the bottom it will be a nice run. If the weir disappears and trees are floating down it could get entertaining. It needs around 24 hours of rain to make it worth doing. If it is going through all 3 arches and you can't see any midstream rocks below the bridge then it will be fun. If it looks scrappy and you can see the ledge river right below the bridge then it will be a bit of a rock dodge. Usually only worth it after significant rain.
GRADING: Grade 2/3.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The first weir after the get in falls vertically onto jutting out pieces of concrete. If you value your boat this is a good idea to portage. The 2nd weir is several steep steps, but causes little harm but might be worth a look. Loads of overhanging trees.
Tony Chambers Pleasley Vale Canoe Club (January 2007)...'Someone has built a very low level bridge about 3/4's of the way down this route. On our trip - low to medium water - some portaged others managed to fit under - BUT if the water rises about a foot the birdge (a telegraph pole with scaffolds boads nailed on top) will be covered - this will leave a handrail (climbing rope) at about a paddlers neck height - quite hard to see. Its obvious the occupier of the nearby house has assembled this to get access to the other bank - watch out.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The first section is flat to the first weir (a portage). Then there are a few Grade II rapids and the river goes either side of an old bridge support. After a few more rapids the river takes a couple of foot drop creating a fantastic play wave that at the right level can be enjoyed all day. If you miss it, you either have your eyes shut or the river is too low. After many hours at the wave the river narrows a little and lots of rocks appearing making many chutes and small drops, a nice grade III section. This continues for some distance, until the river widens somewhat, and Sheffield canoe club's polo nets appear above your head. Egress on river right here.
OTHER NOTES: To get access to the egress contact Sheffield canoe club. I can't recommend doing the section above here. I tried it at it was just a load of sloping weirs and pretty much flat in-between, and access is slightly more delicate. This is a nice river but only worth doing after rain, and due to number of industrial sites around, for God's sake don't swallow!
Shaun (Mr Fish) Greensides, August 2004...'After cutting my teeth on the Don a mere four years ago, I have played on the river many times at most levels. The grade III boulder bash is an excellent training ground for people new to grade III, this is a technical section. The first you see of the boulder garden is a flat pool leading inbetween two large rocks; inspection should take place river right. Three small drops follow. The first is straightforward, the second pushes you into a large boulder which has pushed paddlers over. If this happens, roll very quickly as the third drop comes quickly. This drop was a 5 foot waterfall when I started but as the story grows old and more people see the photos, it is only about 1 foot - but the stopper can hold you, just paddle a few strokes and you'll live. For the flashy among you out there, the third drop has a boulder on the right just under the water. If you try the cartwheel over this rock and end upside down, roll first time. I didn't and smashed my head and ended up with 4 stitches over my eye!'