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.
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.
Coming downhill onto farmland there was common vetch (Vicia sativa) climbing along a fence.
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.
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.
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.
There were a large number of Small Heath butterflies (Coenonympha pamphilus).
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.
Some of the less common butterflies I saw Drizzled Skippers and a Brown Argus butterfly (Aricia agestis).
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)
In places along the river mayflies were flying around, dancing to attract a mate in the warm sunny air.
Not that much to see along the path. There were some strange exotic looking flowers - horse chestnut.
At Goring the weirs and lock on the Thames always look impressive.
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.
From the top there is a good view down to Goring.
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.
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