Booking a Trip with HOS

A key part of belonging to the Hardy Orchid Society  is to be able to join our field trip programme; either as a leader or as a participant. As a member you are welcome to join any trip, although bear in mind you must register with the leader and many trips fill up. This year sees our largest program ever and we have trips all over the country (well, nearly). Thank you to all the leaders who have volunteered their time.

Many members have intimate knowledge of orchid sites – many of you volunteer for work parties, participate in orchid counts, look over and protect orchids, or have visited favourite sites for many years. At the same time many leaders and members have multiple natural history interests, so you will meet other members on our trips who have knowledge of, for example, birds, butterflies, dragonflies and other plants – and perhaps even slime moulds or snails too. Thanks to your involvement in so many voluntary organisations, we are increasingly welcomed by reserve wardens. Indeed this year two wardens will lead walks for us on nationally important sites.

You must make your decision whether you are fit and healthy enough to participate in any particular walk. General indications of difficulty are below, but on the day weather and underfoot conditions may make the trip more difficult. In general you should prepare as for a remote country walk and expect uneven ground. The general principle is: participants are responsible for their own safety. Prepare as if you were going country or hill walking with friends. Do communicate any concerns you have to the leader and your fellow participants as early as possible on the day or, better still, beforehand. The leader does not carry any first-aid or emergency equipment. The leader’s role is to help you find your way around the area and help you to see more orchids than you would if you went on your own. It is not to ensure your safety – you are solely responsible for that. Areas visited often have no mobile signal.

We normally collect a voluntary donation to any non-government organisation, such as a Wildlife Trust, that maintains a site visited. Every year recently  we have collected several hundred pounds for conservation – thank you. Our insurance only covers our own members, so it is not normally possible to take a non-member friend with you. Family membership can include children too. You cannot bring a dog unless the trip leader explicitly agrees to this.

With this number of trips, some trips will have to be rescheduled, or perhaps even cancelled, if the orchids do not flower or are affected by the season. Please be sympathetic. It seems every season throws some weather-related surprise. Emails for the leaders are available in the Spring 2024 issue of Journal of the Hardy Orchid Society or on the HOS Forum Field Trip Announcement. To register on a trip, please email the individual contact given and include your membership number (or perhaps a small apology if you have lost it!). Any enquiries, ideas, problems, queries, please write to the Field Trip Co-ordinators – fieldtrips@hardyorchidsociety.org

Please remember that you must be a member of the Hardy Orchid Society to book a field trip.
You can join here

Field Trips in 2024

Saturday 16th March: Oxfordshire, near Didcot
Leader: Hamza Nobes

To see the Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum robertianum) discovered two years ago. One or two orchids should be near the path but most are a few metres down a very steep and slippery grass bank. Stiff soled shoes are preferable and the short descent requires extreme care

Saturday 11th May: Thames Valley, Oxfordshire
Leader: Keith Boseley

To see the Lady and Monkey Orchids at Hartslock, plus the famous hybrids. We will meet by Goring Station and walk a mile to the reserve (and back), which no longer allows parking on site. It is possible to be dropped off at the reserve, but the driver must return the vehicle to Goring. There are frequent trains to Goring on the main line. There are some short steep slopes on the reserve.

Thursday 16th May:East Chilterns, South Bedfordshire
Leader: Alec Latham

This walk is three miles connecting the Hoo Bit, the Pegsdon Hills and Knocking Hoe reserves in south Beds. We should see White Helleborine, Fly Orchid and Burnt Orchid (other plants include Hound’s-tongue and Pasqueflower). Some rough walking including potential forest mud, rough chalk pasture, steep hills with ‘landscaped’ steps and slopes with rabbit holes. Could also be driving wind on the tops. Sturdy footwear is required, though not wellies.

Tuesday 28th May: East Kent
Leader: Colin Sillence
Unfortunately trip is now full

Parkgate and Denge Wood to see Monkey Orchid, Lady Orchid, Fly Orchid and Greater Butterfly-orchids. Up to twelve orchid species are possible. Less than two miles of easy walking. This trip requires car sharing as only limited parking is possible at the reserves. A great day out in England’s “orchid garden” and there are many other sites you may wish to visit later in the afternoon, or on an adjacent day.

Wednesday 5th June: East Kent
Leader: Colin Sillence
Unfortunately trip is now full

Monkton Nature Reserve – the first ever recipient of our conservation grant. Nine orchids should be in flower with impressive numbers of Man Orchid. In the afternoon we will go to Sandwich to see Britain’s best site for Lizard Orchid and other botanical rarities.

Friday 7th June: Braunton Burrows, North Devon
Leader: Roger Harding
Unfortunately trip is now full

Walk will be about three hours - not strenuous. Mostly firm and dry, but some damp slacks may need waterproof footwear. A chance to be guided by legendary local botanist Mary Breeds on one of the finest and most extensive sand dune systems in the country. Possible orchid species in early summer include Early and Southern Marsh-orchids (including hybrids and ssp. coccinea), Bee Orchid, Pyramidal Orchid, and Twayblade. There will be plenty of other rare and interesting plants, butterflies, bugs and birds at this nationally-important site for nature.

Saturday 8th June: Exmoor (Lynton), North Devon
Leader: Elliott Hails

A trip to Exmoor to see Lesser Twayblade. Up to four miles of walking on hilly, uneven terrain with limited foot paths. Numerous plants have been recorded in recent years. Can be combined with the previous day’s trip to make a long weekend trip.

Tuesday 18th June: Swaledale, North Yorkshire
Leader: Alan Gendle
Unfortunately trip full after Forum announcement

Visit to SSSI on private land. Numbers strictly limited. Expected orchids include Dactylorhiza purpurella, D. maculata, Pseudorchis, Gymnadenia borealis and possibly Dactylodenia hybrids.

Thursday 20th June: Windsor Hill, Chilterns
Registrations to fieldtrips@hardyorchidsociety.org

To see Red Helleborine. The orchids are in an enclosure so we can only get within a few metres of them. The total walking is about a mile. While successful flowering cannot be guaranteed, the last few years have always produced flowering stems. The exact timing does vary, so the date may need to be moved. This is our earliest visit to Windsor Hill – let’s hope we can finally see the lower plants again. BBOWT (the local Wildlife Trust) always has a fee per individual for guided reserve walks and indeed the warden will be on site to explain the history and current conservation policies. We need to collect donations to match these fees and to contribute to the extensive conservation efforts here.

Saturday 22nd June: Martin Down, North Hampshire
Leader: Vinny Blood

Main species will be Chalk Fragrant-orchid (many thousands and some interesting variations), Common Spotted-orchid and Pyramidal Orchid. Also a reasonable chance of Bee Orchid - and an outside chance of Frog Orchid. And with it being such a wonderful reserve, there are other downland flowers plus butterflies (e.g. Dark Green Fritillary) and birds to see. A famous completely natural orchid site that is very hard to navigate on your own.

Sunday 23rd June: Kenfig Dunes, Glamorgan
Leader: Steve Parsons
Unfortunately trip is now full

While the primary focus of our visit will be the Fen Orchid but we also hope the timing of our visit will be good for high summer and late summer species too. This is a unique site which we have not visited for many years. All being well the warden will be present to show us round.

Sunday 23rd June: near Leeds
Leader: Charlie Philpotts

Three varied sites around the east Leeds area, a limestone outcrop, a former mining site and an old meadow. Orchids to be seen should include Northern Marsh-orchid, Southern Marsh-orchid, Common Spotted-orchid, Twayblade, Bee Orchid and Dactylorhiza hybrids. A good opportunity to see various dactylorhizas.

Saturday 22nd & 29th June: Cloud Wood, Leicestershire
Leader: Neil Hubbard
trip full on 29th June

An SSSI and the best Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust reserve for orchids and much else. Expect to see Common Spotted-orchid, Bee Orchid, Twayblade, Pyramidal Orchid, Greater Butterfly-orchid, plus non-flowering Early-purple Orchid, Broad-leaved Helleborine and Violet Helleborine. Plenty of other interesting plants, plus birds. For butterflies, Silver-washed Fritillary, White letter Hairstreak, Purple Hairsteaks, Dingy Skippers and Purple Emperors all possible. Later we will go on to see Lizard Orchids growing a short distance away.

Sunday 30th June: Perthshire
Leader: Dave Trudgill

An opportunity to visit Dave Trudgill’s orchid meadow. Species at Newmill include both Butterfly-orchids, Marsh-orchids, Broad-leaved Helleborine and White Helleborine (but past flowering). There are also Common and Heath Spotted-orchids, Early, Northern and Southern Marsh-orchids, Bee Orchids and Pyramidal Orchids. Bird’s-nest Orchid is close by. We expect to go on to see one or more Fragrant-orchid species and Small-white Orchid.

Friday 5th July: Braunton Burrows, North Devon
Leader: Roger Harding
Unfortunately trip is now full

Our second trip of the season here, walking over a different route and with other orchids at their peak. The walk will be about three hours and not strenuous. Mostly firm and dry, but some damp slacks may need waterproof footwear. Once again we will be guided by Mary Breeds. Possible orchid species include Early and Southern Marsh-orchid (better on earlier trip), including hybrids and ssp. coccinea. Pyramidal Orchid, Twayblade, Marsh Helleborine by the thousand and Marsh Fragrant-orchid. There will be plenty of other interesting plants, butterflies, bugs and birds to maintain interest.

Saturday 6th July: Noar Hill, Hampshire
Leaders: Ken & Gillian Elsom
Unfortunately trip is now full

Noar Hill has fascinating medieval chalk workings, now with a hugely diverse range of species including many orchids. The site is managed by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Expect to see Musk Orchid, Common Spotted-orchid, Pyramidal Orchid, Chalk Fragrant-orchid, Fly Orchid, Twayblade and possibly Violet Helleborine depending on the season. There are also many butterflies and bird species. The site has some steep paths which can be slippery if wet.

Tuesday 9th July: Cliburn Moss, Cumbria
Leader: Alan Gendle

For Creeping Lady’s-tresses. Depending on season Northern Marsh-orchid and Broad-leaved Helleborine may also be seen. We will participate in the annual count. Meet at the Cliburn Moss NNR car park at 10.00am (uniquely registration is not required for this trip). Wellies or waterproof walking boots are essential.

Sunday 14th July: Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria
Leader: Charlie Philpotts

Waitby Greenriggs and Augill pasture in Cumbria, meeting in Kirkby Stephen. Orchids should include Northern Marsh-orchid, Common Spotted-orchid, Heath Spotted-orchid, Greater and Lesser Butterfly-orchid, Marsh Helleborine, Twayblade, Frog Orchid and three Fragrant-orchids. If time permits and the season works in our favour there may also be a visit to see Lesser Twayblades on another nearby site.

Sunday 28th July (afternoon): South of Newbury, Hampshire
Leader: Simon Melville

A trip for helleborines. A quiet lane with Epipactis helleborine, E. helleborine var. chlorantha, E. purpurata, E. × schulzei and E. phyllanthes (var. pendula) all possible along a 100 metre stretch.

Please remember that you must be a member of the Hardy Orchid Society to book a field trip.
You can join here