Origins of the wood
Sandall Beat Wood was planted in the early years of the last century on open land, and a patchwork of heath, fen, and rough pasture. This afforestation was part of a national campaign during the Napoleonic Wars, to provide timber for ship building. In 1809 Doncaster Town Council ordered 'Slater the Woodman' to buy many thousands of tree seedlings - a mixture of Larch, Oak, Ash, Beech, Sweet Chestnut, Scots Pine, Lime and Elm. To prepare the land for planting, drainage channels were dug in criss-cross fashion - 365 in all. Planting began in 1810 and continued during 1811 and 1812.
As older, neighbouring woodlands were cleared, Sandall Beat Wood became an important refuge for many forest creatures. By 1966 Doncaster Council recognized this and the Beat was designated a Local Nature Reserve because of its rich and varied wildlife. In 1984 further special protection was given when the Nature Conservancy Council, now Natural England, classified the area as a Site of Special Interest (SSSI) because of the woods rare insects
The Beat lies close to the heart of Doncaster, both geographically and emotionally. This together with its network of rides and footpaths, makes it a favourite place for townspeople to walk their dogs, go riding, picnic in summer, or simply explore the changing woodland.
N.B Covill's Trail, a 2 kilometre way-marked circular path, provides a hard, level surface that is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
The Wood is owned and managed by Doncaster Council and is one of 66 publicly accessible Council-owned woodlands in the Borough, which cover 1300 acres (526 hectares) in total. Doncaster’s Greenspace Audit & Strategy established a hierarchy of woodlands, which identifies Sandall Beat Wood as a District Woodland, one of 6 in the Borough. These are woodlands 20-60 ha in size with a 5 mile (8 km) catchment area. The Greenspace Strategy states:
‘Their size and importance merits that they should be maintained to the highest standard and that they can provide centres of excellence for recreation, nature conservation and that their historic, diversity and landscape significance is protected, interpreted and marketed. These sites offer the opportunity to provide flagship projects, which can be the focus of civic and community pride. In certain cases, visitor facilities to allow whole day visits should be provided and a range of facilities to attract visitors should be created.’
Under the Borough’s Woodland Strategy, Sandall Beat Wood is defined as a Key Managed Wood and its policy class is Conservation.
The Wood’s Conservation policy class identifies its priority contribution to achieving the Council’s woodland ownership objectives, although this is by no means exclusive. Like all Council-owned woodland, the Beat has a high public amenity interest; its urban location means that it is almost certainly the most visited and heavily used woodland in the Borough. Consequently, amenity value ranks alongside nature conservation and management regimes reflect this.
- A Key Managed Wood is one where objectives will only be achieved through active woodland management and which will fall far short of its aims unless the Council intervenes. Doncaster Council now has active management plans covering Key Woodlands, which provide a comprehensive long-term management programme for the Borough’s woods.
Sandall Beat Wood is thus identified as a high priority for the Council’s attention.
How to get there
For directions to Sandall Beat Wood please ring the number at the top of this page.
Telephone Travel South Yorkshire on 01709 515151 for full details of all bus services.
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