Friday, 31 May 2013

Goring and Streatley

This year I promised myself a few long walks in May as it is the month when everything happens and it is not too cold or too hot. Unfortunately the very last day of May turned out to be the only day I kept my promise. Another aim for this year was to catch the Lady orchids in bloom. last year I only saw them when they were past their best. Here is a map of the ten mile walk:

View Goring and Streatley in a larger map

I was pleased to do the whole walk without using the car, starting off from Goring station, and then walked up the Chiltern Way up to Great Chalk Wood. There were a lot of butterflies around, brought out by the warmest day for some weeks. On this stretch I saw Orange tips, Green veined white, Small Heath and in the following shot a Brimstone.


Great Chalk Wood is a plantation of mainly conifer trees. Along the path enough light comes through for attractive patches of woodruff; yellow archangel and wild garlic (ramsons) to flower.

wild garlic

Sporadically figwort was growing well. Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa) is one of the few plants with a square stem, I hope you can see that from this close-up. The stem looks so square it looks like it has been extruded. In the wood I saw Speckled Wood and Brimstone butterflies.

figwort,Scrophularia nodosa

Coming downhill onto farmland there was common vetch (Vicia sativa) climbing along a fence.

vetch,Vicia sativa

The steep downs have been designated an Open Access area; there was not much in flower, some yellow-wort coming up and lots of milkwort (Polygala vulgaris) - one of my favourite flowers.

milkwort,Polygala vulgaris

The downs led me into the Hartslock Nature Reserve managed by BBOWT. I was pleased to see a good display of Monkey orchids (Orchis simia) again.

monkey orchid,orchid

And, what I only saw last year at this time in a rather threadbare, faded condition were Lady Orchids (Orchis purpurea). This year they are in better fettle with a wide apron and a tiny tail.

lady orchid,Orchis purpurea,orchid

The two lady orchids are surrounded by a halo of larger orchids - a vigorous hybrid of the Lady and Monkey orchids showing features of each parent and a smile too.

monkey-lady orchid,orchid

There were a large number of Small Heath butterflies (Coenonympha pamphilus).

small heath butterfly,Coenonympha pamphilus,butterflpicframe

One of the rarities at Hartslock are Pasque flowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris). These used to be there but died out and have been recently re-introduced, they are now doing very well again.

pasque flower,Pulsatilla vulgaris

Some of the less common butterflies I saw Drizzled Skippers and a Brown Argus butterfly (Aricia agestis).

brown argus,Aricia agestis,butterfly

I then took the Thames Path alongside the river back to Goring. Sometimes it is the mundane that can be striking close up; here's some grass, probably Yorkshire fog (Holcus lanatus)

grass,Holcus lanatus

In places along the river mayflies were flying around, dancing to attract a mate in the warm sunny air.

may fly

Not that much to see along the path. There were some strange exotic looking flowers - horse chestnut.

horse chestnut

At Goring the weirs and lock on the Thames always look impressive.

Goring bridge

Passing over the river to Streatley, Berkshire I followed part of the Ridgeway path along until turning off onto Lough Down. Here I saw a Dingy Skipper butterfly and then up to the top of Lardon Chase was a female Common Blue butterfly (which is more brown than blue, it is the males which are blue). Out of focus, but the rich colours really shined.

Female Common blue butterfly

From the top there is a good view down to Goring.

goring view

On The Holies I did not see much I hadn't already seen at Hartslock just across the river - on the more sunny side - Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) was very striking.

sorrel,Rumex acetosa

Finally when walking back towards Goring I spotted one last plant on a wall in Streatley, it is an Ivy-leaved Toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis). A very attractive plant

toadflax,ivy-leaved toadflax,Cymbalaria muralis

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