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Doncaster

Travel Guide Europe United Kingdom England Yorkshire and the Humber Doncaster

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Introduction

Conisbrough Castle

Conisbrough Castle

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Doncaster is an historic market town, with a rich horseracing and railway Visitor Guide 2010 heritage. Founded in AD 71 by the Romans due to its strategic position on the River Don, transport and connectivity continue to play an important part to this day.The town of Doncaster sits at the very heart of a vast metropolitan area, consisting of green open spaces, nature reserves and an amazing variety of flora and fauna. Doncaster includes ancient villages and towns such as Conisbrough and Tickhill, both of which have Norman castles.

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Sights and Activities

Doncaster has many attractions for the young and the young at heart. For all round family fun, Hatfield Water Park offers excellent water sports facilities with friendly instructors on hand for beginners.

Minutes from the town centre is Lakeside, home of The Dome, one of the UK's top sports and leisure attractions featuring The Lagoons, a magical 7 pool water world; The Ice Caps split-level ice rink, an indoor climbing wall and health and fitness facilities. The Keepmoat Stadium, home to Doncaster Rovers Football Club and Doncaster Rugby Football League Club, is located in this area, together with the Vue multi-screen cinema complex and The Doncaster Bowl. A wide range of child-friendly restaurants and bars make Lakeside a very popular family visitor destination.

There are a number of Museums and Galleries in the Borough of Doncaster. An absolute must see is the Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery situated in pleasant, enclosed gardens in the town centre. Opened in 1964 it tells the story of the Doncaster region using natural history, archaeology, local history, fine and decorative art. There is also a large and varied temporary exhibition programme throughout the year. The Regimental Museum of the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry is housed in the same building and includes one of the most extensive medal collections to be exhibited in any museum in this country.

Aeroventure is a museum specializing in post-war aircraft and other flying memorabilia and is locater at Lakeside, just minutes from the town centre. The Trolley Bus Museum is to be found at Sandtoft, 25 kilometres north east of Doncaster and is home to Britain’s largest collection of working trolley buses. For those wishing to discover more about the changing home, work and social life of people and communities across the Doncaster area, a visit to Cusworth Hall, Museum & Park illustrates this progress over the past 250 years.

Aeroventure

The South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum (AeroVenture) is located at Doncaster Lakeside, where you can:

Discover -a fascinating treasure trove of aviation history, with many of the exhibits under cover it's ideal for sunny or rainy days. The museum has a Military and Civilian Aircraft collection from propeller training aircraft to Mach 2 Jet fighters, a helicopter collection, jet and piston engines, a WWII home front exhibition and a Sheffield Blitz Exhibition.

Explore the wartime buildings of the former RAF Doncaster. Find out how the science of aviation has developed from the earliest pioneer aircraft in 1909 to Modern jets and Fighters. See a replica of the Bleriot IX which flew from Doncaster racecourse in England's first air-race, and find out about the brave pioneers who took part in this historic event.

Experience the thrill of viewing close up aircraft that took part in missions around the world and climb into some of the aircraft cockpits.

For the model maker there is a large range of kits available by leading manufacturers as well as books, magazines, paints and Diecast models by Corgi, HobbyMaster and dragon.

Boston Park Maize Maze

When the maze is shut there are still lots to see and do at the farm, so come along and see what’s going on. All of the animals are still here and love to have visitors, and as always there are the indoor and outdoor play areas, the pedal tractors and our huge indoor sandpit.

We recommend that you wear sturdy shoes as you must remember it is still a field. Don’t forget your coat if it is raining as it can be just as much fun on a wet day if you are dressed for the weather. On a hot day we suggest you take a cold drink with you and a hat to protect you from the beautiful Yorkshire sunshine.

Dogs are welcome at Maizie Maze as long as they are kept on a short lead at all times and they are well behaved as we don’t want them upsetting the other animals. The most important thing to remember while at Maizie Maze is to have fun.

Cast

Launched in September 2013, Cast is a place where you can watch incredible shows, share creative ideas and be inspired. Cast is a place where you want to spend your time and play your part, whether that’s through watching a show, participating in activities or enjoying some food, a coffee or a glass of wine in our café.

Doncaster Lakeside

Doncaster Lakeside is a prestigious retail, leisure and residential complex situated amongst beautiful lakes and landscaped greenery where an evening stroll can be enjoyed by the whole family. In addition to The Dome there are many other attractions available including the Vue Cinema, the Doncaster Bowl and a myriad of fast food outlets, restaurants and pubs. A new addition to Doncaster's Lakeside is Lakeside Boats. There are now a range of pedal boats, kayak singles and doubles.

Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery was opened in 1964 as a purpose-built Museum to display important collections of natural history, archaeology, local history, fine and decorative art. There is also a large and varied temporary exhibition programme throughout the year, as well as special activities for all ages. The Museum shop stocks a range of gifts including postcards, souvenirs, framed prints, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry material and books. Museum staff also offer an Enquiry Service to the public - objects can be brought in for identification but no valuations can be given. There is full access to the museum for the disabled, and inside there is a lift providing access to the upper galleries. Free car park for visitors with reserved disabled parking.

Markham Grange Steam Engine Museum

The steam museum has on display some fine examples of large, working, stationary steam engines (not railway engines). The collection, which is still growing, is privately owned and has been acquired over several years from a wide range of sources. Now housed in a purpose built building, the engines have been lovingly restored and rebuilt by a dedicated team of full time and volunteer workers. The collection includes engines from breweries and industrial sites, pumping and marine engines with several in steam on Wednesday's and the first Sunday in the month. A garden centre and a steam museum seem an unlikely combination but this is exactly what you will find at Markham Grange Nurseries, Brodsworth near Doncaster. So while you soak up the nostalgia in the museum the gardener of the family can take a leisurely stroll amongst the plants and then meet up in the cafe area to compare notes. What could be better?

Riverboat Cruises

The ‘Wyre Lady’ is a large authentic vessel built in 1938 by Denny’s of Dumbarton. The most notorious part of her career was during the Second World War, where she was a naval tender and often serviced the ‘Queen Mary’ and the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ in the roles as troop ships. In the Sixties she arrived at Fleetwood to be the Knott-end Ferry, working across the river Wyre where she acquired her name today and it was in spring 1978 when she arrived in Doncaster. The Wyre Lady has a substantial upper deck, with capacity of accommodating up to 72 passengers whilst the authentic lower deck saloon offers a broad range of beers, wines and spirits.

The Sprotbrough Riverboat Company has successfully operated passenger cruises from Doncaster since 1975. Canal and River cruises have become a very popular and fantastic way to see the waterways of South Yorkshire. The Sprotbrough Riverboat specialises in bespoke hire of the ‘Wyre Lady’ for a variety of clients and customers, local and regional. The Traditional discos are a firm favourite of customers on the ‘Wyre Lady’ but the company also appreciated that it is important to personalise a celebration and balloons, pom-poms, ribbons, banners and much more are all offered.

The Riverboat is not all entertainment on a Sunday there are Public Cruises which offer the chance to see local landmarks on the water-bus service April through to October. There is also a chance for pupils for learn and explore working waterway traffic with a combined River Cruise and visit to a Historical site.

The Dome

With over 1 million visitors every year The Dome, Doncaster is now one of the UK's top 5 Sports and Leisure attractions encompassing every type of entertainment available. In fact it now has so many activities it is almost impossible to try everything in one day! The Lagoons, a magical 7 pool water world, with 2 giant flumes, geysers, fountains, bubble beds, spas, wild water and a children's interactive play area. The Ice Caps, the UK's first split-level ice rink, where group rates are available for parties of 10 or more. All groups need to book in advance. The latest addition to the facilities at The Dome is The Ridge, a climbing wall offering different routes to challenge novices or experienced climbers. Regular courses are also available to give novices the opportunity to learn the skills of climbing in a safe, controlled environment. The Dome is open all year round and has it's own free car park with over 700 spaces including coach parking.

Trolley Bus Museum

The Trolley Bus Museum at Sandtoft is home to the World's largest collection of historic trolleybuses many of which are in working order. It is situated in open countryside some 15 miles North East of Doncaster in the Isle of Axholme. Wallow in the nostalgia of and experience the noiseless, fumeless, trackless transport of yesteryear. View buses undergoing restoration and marvel at how they are adapted to operate on Sandtoft's own internal network of electrified trolley wires. Various events are organised throughout the year. Please contact the museum for further details and open days. Coach tours and other parties can visit the museum on most weekends by prior arrangement. Open days are held annually when visitors can enjoy rides on the trolleybuses and motorbuses.

Villages & Market Towns

Doncaster, the largest metropolitan borough in the UK, offers a mix of urban and rural charm. There are a number of interesting and picturesque villages within easy reach of the town centre that are well worth a visit.

Bawtry, originally an ancient port on the River Idle, is a busy market town with a variety of attractive restaurants and quality shops and a rich history as a former staging post on the Great North Road. Bawtry is known as the 'gateway to Yorkshire', and on entering the town from Nottinghamshire on the A630, the first house on the left hand side carries the prestigious address, Number 1 Yorkshire. Neighbouring Austerfield is the birthplace of William Bradford one of the founder Pilgrim Fathers who went on to become the Governor of Plymouth Colony in 1621, making these villages a must for history buffs.

Just three miles from Bawtry is Tickhill. This attractive market town is centred around a Buttercross which was erected in 1777. The remains of a Norman Castle (not open to the public) overlook the picturesque milldam and a walk around the village reveals many designer boutiques and popular restaurants. Little remains of the quiet hamlet of Hampole to indicate that it was the haunt of Richard Rolle, 'the Hermit of Hampole', known as the father of English vernacular literature. At nearby Skelbrooke on the A1, stands Robin Hood's Well, an early 18th century well cover by John Vanbrugh, the architect of Castle Howard.

The historic Market Town of Thorne, 18 kilometres northeast of Doncaster, boasts a wealth of attractions for visitors. With its flat landscape, big skies, canals and (disused) windmills, it is often referred to as 'Little Holland'. Together with the magnificent Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve, Thorne's surrounding flat countryside makes for easy walking. The Peatlands Way links the historic settlements of Thorne, Crowle, Belton, Epworth, Haxey, Wroote, Kirk Bramwith and Sykehouse. Also worth visiting is Buntings Wood, picturesque Thorne Lock with its colourful barges and Thorne Memorial Park where there is a lake suitable for model boats, a miniature steam railway and a bandstand with free brass band concerts on summer Sunday afternoons.

Hooton Pagnell is situated on a ridge of farmland where the ground falls steeply away to give picturesque views over the Dearne Valley and imposing Brodsworth Hall. The buildings in this attractive village are local brown limestone and of particular interest is the ancient hall with a 14th century gateway. The village of Askern with its boating lake, and Fishlake, Arksey and Braithwell with their historical churches and architecture, are also worthy of a visit.

The countryside around Fishlake remains relatively untouched by modern agricultural development and is remarkably rich in wildlife. It is a landscape of low-lying meadows and damp pasture, cris-crossed by green lanes and drainage ditches, in which plants typical of marshy sites abound. St Cuthberts Church in the centre of Fishlake is a magnificent building built by the Normans in the 12th Century.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Award winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park is giving parents a fantastic new weather proof haven this February Half Term to entertain their children in – a giant play barn. Building work on the custom built 600 sq m playbarn with play equipment on 3 levels is just being completed with a baboon reserve being added next door. Inspired by the climbing ability of real monkeys, the play area includes wooden climbing frames and towers, dens, slides, swings and rope bridges. There is also a soft play area for the under 5’s. Yorkshire Wildlife Parkis the UK's No1 award winning Walkthrough Wildlife Adventure, based at Branton, Doncaster in South Yorkshire. The park is a great day out for all the family and offers you a unique view into the animal’s lives and walkthrough areas, which include Lemur Woods, Wallaby Walkabout, South America Viva and Leopard Heights. The park won the prestigious award of Yorkshires Most Magnificent Attraction 2012, beating over 100 other attractions.

The park lets children get close to nature, and offers special rates for school and group visits. VIP tour experiences are also available, these tours let you shadow a ranger and get up close with the animals. Help check the animals, prepare feeds and encounter lemurs and meerkats up, close and personal! Yorkshire Wildlife Park is quickly becoming a dynamic conservation centre helping to save habitats and wildlife, with the help of communities at home and around the world.

Wildlife parks and Zoo’s across Europe are working together to maintain animals that are endangered in the wild. Another way that you could help the animals is by adopting one of them! Adopting an animal at the park helps them to continue with their conservation work. Whatever animal you choose to adopt they will be taken great care of and you will be able to arrange a behind the scenes experience with your animal. You will also receive an adoption package, including a certificate, fact sheet, photograph and a complimentary ticket to the park.

Cusworth Hall, Museum & Park

Cusworth Hall is an imposing 18th century, Grade 1 listed country house set in extensive landscaped parklands and is home to an extensive social history collection, which illustrates the way people lived, worked and entertained themselves over the last 200 years. The extensive landscaped grounds provide a stunning setting for walks as well as a breathtaking backdrop to the hall. The tea-rooms provide home-made refreshments and the shop offers a range of distinctive gifts. There is an active events programme and the Hall and grounds are now available for group visits, weddings and corporate hire. If you would like to experience a spectacular view of the Hall and grounds as well as the surrounding countryside you will be able to take a Virgin Balloon Flight from the grounds of Cusworth Hall from March 2013.

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens

Brodsworth’s gardens are a plant-lover’s paradise. Whatever time of year you visit, there will always be something to catch your eye. Wonderfully restored to their original horticultural splendour explore the magnificent fern dell, stunning displays of roses and immaculate lawns. Visitors can share last Sunday afternoons with Pimms and a picnic, enjoying the sounds of local brass bands. While children can let off steam in the play area, with a boat and mini rockers or by exploring the hidden gem of the pet cemetery and discover the whereabouts of Brodsworth’s most beloved pets.

B J Nurseries

This plantaholic's 5 acre garden is a place for visitors to linger for many hours. Filled with an extensive range of perennials, interspaced by small trees and shrubs, planted in both island beds and borders up to 40 feet deep. The visitor can relax in the shade of Betula Jacquemontii, secluded by Cornus Alba Aurea (AGM), and spend time in quiet reflection or be dazzled by the vibrant display of 100 dahlias, spectacular in late summer. An island bed of conifer and grasses is interspersed with Bishop of Llandaff (AGM) adding zing amongst the elegant waving seed-heads of the grasses. Move into a second garden enclosed by borders of perennials leading to shrub roses and a hidden path through a pagoda of climbing roses and honeysuckles, evoking perfumed memories of yester-year. Through the gate and on to two more beds where colourful planting gives way to paths through trees, shrubs and grasses taking us finally to the wildlife area. Here you can picnic or just sit and watch swallows swoop over the small lake and listen to the wind as it rustles through the bluebell wood.

Hodsock Priory and Gardens

Hodsock Priory is renowned for their annual springtime Snowdrop Spectacular where millions of tiny white flowers create a breathtaking 12 acre woodland walk. There are also 5 acres of formal gardens to explore and the opportunity to buy a range of plants.

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Events and Festivals

Doncaster is one of the oldest (and in terms of physical capacity – largest) established centres for horse racing in Britain, with records of regular race meetings going back to the 16th century. In 1600 the corporation tried to put an end to the races because of the number of ruffians they attracted, but by 1614 it acknowledged failure and instead marked out a racecourse.

Doncaster is home to two of the World's oldest horse races:

  • The Doncaster Cup - The earliest important race in Doncaster's history was the Doncaster Gold Cup, first run over Cantley Common in 1766. The Doncaster Cup is the oldest continuing regulated horse race in the world. Together with the 2 miles (3,200 metres) Goodwood Cup and 2 1⁄2 miles (4,000 metres) Ascot Gold Cup, the Doncaster Cup is part of Britain's Stayers' Triple Crown for horses capable of running longer distances.
  • b]The St Leger Stakes[/b] - Ten years later the Racecourse moved to its present location and in 1776 Colonel Anthony St. Leger founded a race in which five horses ran. This race has remained in existence and become the world's oldest classic horse race. During the first world war the racecourse was used for military purposes and substitute races were run at Newmarket from 1915 to 1918.

Doncaster has the distinction of both starting and ending the flat season on turf. Every September, Doncaster hosts the prestigious four-day Ladbrokes St. Leger Festival, which is acclaimed as the premier sporting occasion of the Autumn calendar. Doncaster has also taken over events whose traditional homes have closed, such as the Lincoln Cup in 1965.

More history was made at Doncaster in 1992 when it staged the first ever Sunday meeting on a British racecourse. A crowd of 23,000 turned up despite there being no betting.

The racecourse is more than just a racecourse. It regularly hosts conventions such as the Tattoo Festival and business meetings such as Doncaster Dynamites BNI every Wednesday. The current membership committee of that BNI chapter comprises local Doncaster business people Michael Reeder, Ailsa Watson, James Criddle, Mark Appleyard, Jason Cole, Ian Smith and Andrew Isaacs.

Today the St. Leger Stakes remains the world's oldest Classic Horse Race and features in the Horse Racing calendar as the fifth and final Classic of the British Flat racing season. This pride of place every September on the famous Town Moor course.

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Getting There

By Plane

Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport commenced operation on April 28, 2005. The airport was created following the redevelopment of the former RAF station RAF Finningley, that had closed in 1994. The airport previously served many destinations through partners like Monarch and Ryanair but both companies withdrew their flights from the airport due to their not being enough passengers as prices were too high according to many in the area so now only serves few specific areas of the world through principal carrier Thomson Airways as well as other carrier including Wizz Air And Thomas Cook only serving in the summer seasons. During its first year of operation, at the airports peak in 2007 in handled 1,078,374 passengers.In 2010 it handled 876,153 passengers. In 2014, airline Linksair also began flights to Belfast and the Isle of Man.

The town also lies within reasonable driving distances of Manchester International Airport, Leeds Bradford International Airport, East Midlands Airport and Humberside Airport.

By Train

Doncaster railway station is situated on the East Coast Main Line, allowing fast and frequent access to all parts of Great Britain including Edinburgh Waverley, Glasgow Central and London Kings Cross in roughly one hour and a half. The station is served by the largest number of train operators in Britain and Doncaster PSB is one of the largest signalling centres on the network, controlling hundreds of miles of railway. Also part of the history at this station was the old plant works, one of the largest in the country at its time with thousands of workers and machinery. It is the home of where the Mallard and Flying Scotsman were created but is just partly working at the moment and being taken over by Doncaster's largest rail works Wabtec who mainly repair or refurbish trains if given the job.

By Car

The town is located close to the M18 and A1(M) motorways, with access to both from the town centre. South of the town, the M18 and A1(M) cross at an interchange. The A638 runs through the town itself, from north to south. This follows the line of the old A1, before the Doncaster bypass in 1960. The A19 road to Newcastle and York also starts in Doncaster.

By Bus

Doncaster bus transport runs under the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive. The largest operator in the town (as well as South Yorkshire) is First, who are closely followed by Stagecoach and Arriva Yorkshire Other companies who operate in and around the town include Wilfreda Beehive, Veolia Transportation and Travel South Yorkshire who are in close partnership with First. Currently, all bus companies make use of the Frenchgate Interchange next to the station.

By Boat

With the good rail links from the Network Rail cargo depot situated near the south of Doncaster and on the East Coast Main Line as well as many options of road links from the town, travel time to the Port of Hull can be achieved in under an hour. From Hull, P&O Ferries run services to Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Zeebrugge in Belgium.

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Drink

Whatever you are into, you are bound to find one bar in Doncaster that suits you perfectly. Whether you are after a traditional historic alehouse, a Beatles-themed bar, an old market place boozer, a fruity cocktail bar, a chart-and dance fuelled pub for the younger crowd or a super-classy drinks venue, you will find it here.

Despite its size, Doncaster has built up a reputation as a great place where to party with a vast array of different bars for pre-clubbing drinks and a flurry of great clubs where revellers can let their hair down.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés can be found in many cities and towns. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though there is usually a time limit. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access, including wifi, but most times at a cost. Using the internet on your personal phone can become expensive very quickly, with carriers charging 100's of times the local rate for data. To avoid these expensive roaming charges, you can hunt for wifi at a local cafe or hotel, or rent a mobile hotspot via several providers including DATAPiXY, and XCOM Global.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to the United Kingdom is: 44. To make an international call from the United Kingdom, the code is: 00

In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue). You can call this number from any mobile telephone as well, even if you do not have roaming.

Although the number is declining, you can still find payphones in many public areas, especially stations, airports etc. You can usually pay with cash and sometimes by creditcard or, for international calls, special phonecards are still available.

Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and O2. 3G data services are available, usually priced per megabyte and coverage is usually very good in the UK, however it may lack in rural areas. Roaming on your personal phone plan can be expensive. To manage costs, consider purchasing a local UK SIM card for your phone. Several companies offer local SIM cards including Telestial, and CellularAbroad.

Post

The Royal Mail provides postal services in the United Kingdom. The Royal Mail's store fronts are called Post Office and offer services ranging from sending letters and packages to foreign currency exchange. Use the branch locator to find the nearest Post Office branch. There will be at least one post office in any town/city and there are quite often post offices in larger villages. It's common for a post office to be incorporated into a grocery store, where there will be a small counter located at the back of the store for dealing with post related matters. All post offices are marked with signs that say 'post office' in red lettering. Post boxes can be found at any post office and standalone large red post boxes on the streets or red boxes in the sides of public buildings.
For sending packages overseas, it might be a good idea to check prices and services with international companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.

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This is version 11. Last edited at 12:29 on Mar 19, 15 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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