Spring is definitely in the air and despite a gloomier outlook than yesterday we headed south down the A1 for a trip to the Don Gorge. We soon arrived at the River Don and the Boat Inn where we grabbed the last space in the small parking spot by the river. Off we went down the Trans-Pennine Trail which is a wide, flat path following the river and along one edge of the nature reserve.
After a few minutes the flash appeared on our right hand side through the trees and the springtime sound of battling Coots filled the air.
Across the river a Nuthatch called repeatedly though remained hidden. The flash is the result of mining subsidence along the river and the Trust has managed this site, plus the flanking magnesian limestone grasslands and woodland for many years. Along the riverside path a number of bomb-proof viewing screens look out over the water.
Several Pochard, a handsome pair of Shovellers and c20 Tufted Ducks were present, plus a smart pair of Great Crested Grebes. A Kingfisher darted past along the river, flashing its turquoise back momentarily, sadly evading the kids. A little later, a Green Woodpecker yaffled loudly, perched on the top most branch of a tall ash. He continued all morning and could be heard from the other side of the reserve later.
At the end of the flash, we hooked back into the reserve proper, through a kissing gate. The kids enjoyed a quick exploration of some small caves in the face of an old dolomite quarry. The limestone boulders were nestled amid shiny Hart's-tongue Ferns.
Up we went through the woods noticing hardy Dog's Mercury making an appearance on the woodland floor. We had to carry the pushchair up some steps but it wasn't too arduous. A Willow Tit was heard singing here, plus a few Siskins. The track climbs gently for a few minutes and then you come out next to a wide arable field. We followed this woodland edge, spotting out first Lesser Celandines of the year and plenty of Hazel catkins.
The views back over to the flash and the cliffs beyond were lovely, though it was a shame it wasn't sunny.
The going was good and we soon met up with a wider public footpath that we followed down to the pub and lunch. A very pleasant walk on a mild spring day. The loop was easy going about 2 miles and took us a couple of hours, with plenty of stops.