A few months ago, Ockviewer told me about BBOWT Hartslock Nature Reserve near Goring. It’s one of the best places to go to see wild orchids. Not only that, it has amazing views over the River Thames. Sadly, we didn’t make it to Hartslock before the end of orchid season, but we did do a fantastic walk from Goring to Hartslock, along the Thames and saw some lovely wildflowers anyway. Plus, we’re all set for orchid season next year, as it’s going to be at the top of my list!
We parked in the train station car park in Goring, mainly because we missed the turning for the long stay car park, but as we weren’t sure how long we were going to be, we thought it might be easier. It only cost £2.80 for the day, so is quite good value. I think the long stay car park uses Ringo and I’m pretty sure it’s got toilets too, but don’t quote me on that. We headed out of the car park and across the bridge onto the high street towards the Thames. We headed away from the lock towards the reserve. Walking along the Thames is lovely, especially in Goring as you get to see so many things that you wouldn’t normally get to see.
It was lovely walking along the Thames, seeing the boats going by, cows cooling off and having a nosey peek at some of the fancy houses on the opposite side. Before you head into fields, you come to Little Meadow Nature Reserve, just before the railway bridge crossing the Thames. It’s a tiny reserve but there are benches to sit on and enjoy watching butterflies dancing over the wildflowers there. The walk for Hartslock continues on, going away from the Thames itself, due to riverside properties, but you get to walk past fields of horses and cows, which I always enjoy. Before long, you come to a wooded area and this is where the walk steps up a notch. First of all, you need to climb up a short hill, where you’ll see a gate and a map, showing the reserve. I thought this was it. It isn’t, but the views are brilliant so we stopped here for a bit (to catch our breath) to take in the views. We walked over the crest of the hill to the other side where we found the entrance to the reserve. We passed two locked gates. Don’t be put off by these if they’re locked when you get there. Just keep going until you get to the unlocked gate at the foot of the hill towards the reserve. Once we’d caught our breath, we headed up to the reserve.
As I said before, we’d missed orchid season, but you can see where they are. They’re in a fenced off area just as you get into the reserve. By the time we’d had a look around the orchid area, it was really hot, so we decided to head back to the car and not look around the rest of the reserve and save that for next time. We headed back the way we came, as it was really, really hot and we knew that most of it was shady. However, the Wildlife Walk we were following is circular and will get you back to Goring. Had it not been so hot, we definitely would have done it. Not that I minded heading back the way we came, as it meant we could stop by the lock for lunch (I’d managed to make us some marmite sandwiches!) and we got some delicious cakes to take away from Pierreponts cafe – well worth a visit.
Poppy really enjoyed the walk, as there were loads of smells for her to track. She was completely unfazed walking by the cows and relished the walk up to the hill. She’s such a great walking companion. Next time we go, I’d like to do the circular walk during orchid season. Am tempted to get Poppy one of these Ezydog Rash Vests to help protect her in the sun, as we’re always very aware that she has no sun protection. Though she did enjoy a little paddle in the Thames on the way back to the car. There are some easy to access mini-beaches where she could get down and get her paws wet!
The Walk: The walk is fairly easy along the Thames path, but the walk up the reserve itself is steep. There are steps, which make it easier, so just take your time. If you’d prefer not to walk from Goring, you can park close the reserve and just walk up the hill to get to it. I think the views are worth it! We followed the instructions on the BBOWT’s Wild Walk information sheet and it got us there without a hitch.
Car Park: There are 97 spaces in the train station car park so there’s plenty of room there on the weekend.
Refreshments: No but you could always have lunch at Pierreponts, just make sure you book in advance if you want a table inside.
Toilets: Not on the walk itself, but I’m sure there are some in long stay car park in Goring.