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Sprotbrough Flash Nature Reserve

Picturesque Sprotbrough Flash is one of the richest wildlife sites in South Yorkshire. A mosaic of open water, wetland, woodland and limestone grassland, the site offers a year-round treat for wildlife enthusiasts.

Please note the main footpath along the side of the lake at Sprotbrough flash will be closed 23rd Jan – 17th Feb whilst the council upgrade the footpath. The woods will still be open.


The impressive diversity of wildlife found at Sprotbrough Flash results from the range of habitats which have developed on the unusual magnesian limestone bedrock.

The nature reserve is located in the Don Gorge, where the River Don cuts through the elevated limestone ridge to the west of Doncaster.

Magnesian limestone formed in a shallow tropical sea in the Permian period, some 280 million years ago. Now this rare rock type is only found in a narrow band running approximately north-south from Durham to Nottinghamshire. Due to its value as a building material and its many industrial uses, magnesian limestone (dolomite) has been widely quarried in the local area. The site protects fragments of ancient woodland on the slopes of the gorge, while wildlife-rich grassland can be found on the limestone plateau and a restored quarry site at the north end of the nature reserve.

The limestone woodland, protected within the nature reserve, is dominated by ash, wych elm and sycamore, with a varied shrub layer typical of this woodland type, with species such as hazel, spindle and guelder rose. There are some magnificent specimens of small-leaved lime and an avenue of mature yew, and the woodland immediately to the north west supports a nationally notable array of ancient woodland invertebrates. The wood is home to good populations of breeding woodland birds - all three species of woodpecker have been recorded here.

Small areas of limestone grassland occur on the plateau at the top of the wooded slopes, supporting a dizzying variety of specialist limestone wildflowers and insects. Over recent years the areas of this valuable habitat has been significantly increased through scrub removal and its condition has been enhanced by the introduction of conservation grazing, using traditional breeds of sheep.


Top Tip:


For a full day out, Denaby Ings nature reserve is a pleasant 3 mile walk to the west of Sprotbrough Flash along the Trans-Pennine Trail.


Botanical highlights include good displays of cowslip, common spotted and pyramidal orchids, with common twayblade, bee orchid, carline thistle, quaking grass and autumn gentian among many others. Brown hares can be seen on the grassland and dashing across the adjacent arable fields, while grass snakes are also a common sight basking on the grassland in the morning sun.

Bones found locally indicate that woolly mammoth and woolly rhinoceros lived in the Sprotbrough area during the last Ice Age. When this period ended, approximately 12,000 years ago, water from the melting ice-sheets forced its way through a fault in the elevated limestone ridge, creating the Don Gorge which dominates the local landscape today. Coal mining extended underneath the Don Gorge causing subsidence and then flooding.

Visitors looking for a longer walk can climb up the side of the Don Gorge to reach ancient woodland and limestone grassland. Refreshments are available on the nature reserve's doorstep at The Boat Inn public house.


Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife book, which has detailed information on all of Yorkshire Wildlife and Sheffield Wildlife Trust’s reserves, is available to buy now from our online shop.


Public Transport

Sprotbrough village is served by bus services from Doncaster Interchange, while the nearest train station is at Conisbrough, approximately 2 miles to the west of the site. The nature reserve is located on the Trans-Pennine Trail, a long-distance walking and cycling route.


0.5 miles to the south of Sprotbrough village, immediately adjacent to The Boat Inn. Public car parking is available next to the toll house on Nursery Lane, which is a two minute walk along the towpath from the nature reserve.


Want to see more of Sprotbrough before your visit? Have a look below.

Sprotbrough Flash Nature Reserve photos in our Flickr group


Nearby nature reserves

Denaby Ings Nature Reserve
2 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Potteric Carr Nature Reserve
3 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Thorpe Marsh Nature Reserve
6 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

The Boat Inn
South Yorkshire
Map reference
SE 534 006
Great for...
geological interest
historical interest
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
28.00 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Public and permissive footpaths. Access to two wheelchair-accessible bird hides is provided along the riverside path.
Walking information
Public and permissive footpaths. Please keep all dogs on leads.
Car parking allowed at far end of Boat Inn car park so long as the visitor intends to make use of the Inn's facilities.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01904 659570


Factsheets and guides for your visit