Hartslock

Helen Dewar

Enjoy magnificent views of the winding River Thames and sloping chalk grassland full of national rarities.

Location

near Goring-on-Thames
7 miles north-west of Reading
Berkshire
RG8 0EP

OS Map Reference

SU616796
A static map of Hartslock

Know before you go

Size
10 hectares

Entry fee

No

Parking information

Park in Goring and walk for 1.5 miles along the Thames Path. No parking on unclassified road near reserve. Goring railway station is 1 mile from reserve.

Grazing animals

Yes

Access

Steep slopes, firm paths; long flight of steps

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times. No parking on site or in the road leading to the reserve.

Best time to visit

March to August

About the reserve

Orchids galore
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 too
The reserve is also excellent for insects, featuring a variety of bee species, uncommon shieldbugs, grasshoppers and day-flying moths. Butterflies include the lovely chalkhill blue, green hairstreak and grizzled skipper. The occasional visit by the rare Adonis blue adds a further splash of colour with the brilliant turquoise-blue of the male butterfly.

River views and kites
On summer evenings, enjoy the wonderful river views, and watch swallows skimming the pasture and red kites soaring overhead. 

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. Read Simon Barnes' e-book Prophet and Loss which describes his visit to Hartslock in 2015 and how Rothschild vision has helped to protect this beautiful nature reserve.

Things to do
Explore the reserve and surrounding area with our Goring WIld Walk. Starting in Goring, this 8km circular walk takes in Hartslock nature reserve and a section of the Thames Path. OS Explorer Map 171, 1:25,000 scale, covers the route of this walk. 

Contact us

Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Contact number: 01865 775476
Contact email: info@bbowt.org.uk

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)