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 directions start at Goring railway station as this is easy to find and a good place to drop the car or meet up with friends and car-share.
Head southeast along the road past Goring railway station and some houses. After about 700m bear left at the fork in the road and follow this up a slight incline. This single-track road is passable to motors but passing places are few and far between. This road continues for about 1km before bearing sharply left and going uphill. At this point leave the tarmac road and continue ahead, along the dirt track. You may park at the fork (2 cars max) or further down the track at the reserve gates (where you can usually fit 2 more cars).
Parking is limited and the reserve can get very busy during the peak season. So if you plan to park your car near the reserve we would be grateful if you could make sure you do not block any access gates and you leave enough room for farm vehicles to pass by. The gates have ‘No Parking’ signs but there is room to park 2 small cars without blocking the gates if you are tidy and there is a small pull-in back on the road, again big enough for a couple of cars.
A good alternative for the more able-bodied is to park back at Goring railway station (pay & display since 2011) and walk along the Thames footpath or the road. The walk is only about 1.8km and can be very pleasant.
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