Flower-rich chalk grassland with breathtaking views of the River Thames
The best time for a first visit to Hartslock is May to July when you can see the host of orchids that thrive here.
Bee, pyramidal and common spotted-orchids, common twayblade and white helleborine grow on this sloping grassland. In May or early June, the famous monkey orchids flower here, too. These are so rare that they only grow in two other places in the UK and are protected by law. When the Trust took over this steep chalk hillside overlooking the Thames there were just seven plants, now they number more than 400. In 2006, BBOWT was amazed to find a hybrid of the monkey and lady orchids at Hartslock, the only place in Britain where this hybrid has been recorded. A rich variety of wild grasses and other flowers thrives on the thin soils and south-facing slopes,too. In July, the whole hillside is carpeted with pale mauve marjoram.
Insects and kites
The reserve is also excelllent for insects, featuring a variety of bee species, uncommon grasshoppers and day-flying moths. Butterflies include the lovely chalkhill blue, green hairstreak and grizzled skipper. The rare Adonis blue adds a further splash of colour with the brillian turquoise-blue of the male butterfly. On summer evenings, red kites soar above this colourful spectacle, while swallows skim over the pasture.
Hartslock Wood, a Rothschild Reserve
In May 1912 the banker and expert naturalist Charles Rothschild founded the Society for Promotion of Nature Reserves – the organisation that would become the Wildlife Trusts. His vision was to identify and protect the best places for wildlife, and these became known as Rothschild Reserves. 100 years ago Hartslock Wood and the land bordering the Thames as far as Gatehampton was recommended for inclusion on the list of Rothschild Reserves.
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Your Hartslock photographs
Share your photographs of Hartslock with us! Just add them to our BBOWT flickr group, and tag them with 'hartslock'.