Where we are
Hartslock is in south Oxfordshire, just outside the town of Goring-on-Thames. The entrance gate is located at O/S Grid Ref. SU 616796 (Landranger Map 175).
The lanes leading up to the site are very narrow and it is vital that they are kept clear so that farm vehicles with trailers can access the fields at all times. For this reason we now recommend that visitors park down in Goring and walk to the site from there. The railway station is pay & display but quite cheap and there is a nice car park behind the high street. Both the Thames Path and the road to the site are very easy walking and make a very pleasant way to approach the site – and only 1.8km in distance from the railway station.
Head southeast along the road past Goring railway station. Soon after you leave Goring the road forks and here you can decide whether to go left along the lane or carry straight on to join the Thames Path at Lower Gatehampton Farm.
Visiting by train
Catch one of the stopping services on the Oxford line to Goring & Streatley station. From London you will catch the train from Paddington (usually marked Oxford, Radley or Banbury but check that they stop at Goring & Streatley because some don’t). At the time of writing the timetable you’ll need is First Great Western #17. The journey from London usually takes about 1 hour but you can speed up the journey by catching a fast train to Reading and then hopping on the stopping service to Goring & Streatley.
If you are not starting or travelling through London then it is probably easiest to aim for Reading and then change to the local stopping service.
The best time to visit
The site is exceptionally beautiful and worth visiting at all times of the year. However, the Monkey orchids flower from early May to early/mid June and the Lady orchids flower from the end of April to the end of May. So to get the best chance of seeing both I always advise that visitors come on or around the second/third weekend in May. However, this is just a guideline not a guarantee and all timings can fluctuate +/- a week depending on the weather conditions that spring.
Conduct on the site
Really it’s just common sense and the main thing to remember is … don’t tread on any orchids!
But seriously, we’d appreciate it if you would stick to marked routes and don’t stray off into open areas while on the main orchid slope. Each year we set up signs and tapes that should show you the best routes to see the best orchids so it shouldn’t be necessary to go ‘off piste’.
All the orchids should be marked with white tags but we do miss large numbers of plants (there’s just not enough time in Spring) and it’s wise to remember that tags are difficult to see when walking down slope, so always try to approach from below and walk up hill.
If you’d like to sit and enjoy the view or have a picnic then the best places to do that are in the first field or further along the hill – NOT on the main orchid slope. This is a very sensitive area with a high number of visitors so we’d like to reduce the trampling if possible. If you take the left-most gate in the front field this will take you up through the woods and bring you out at the top of the hill. The climb is easier than going through the orchid slope (it has steps and it is shaded), which can be a relief on a hot, sunny day 🙂