The Goring Gap between the Chilterns and the North Wessex Downs is acknowledged to be one of the most beautiful stretches of the River Thames. For visitors, all eyes are on the river, where the Berkshire village of Streatley meets the larger village of Goring, over on the South Oxfordshire side. This is a spot for lingering to drink in the scenery, with the Swan at Streatley handily placed for the purpose right beside the water. Come in July for the regatta organized by the Goring Gap Boat Club, when 600 rowers compete in races that are just a part of the fun. Click here for the on-line visitors guide and video.
What to see in Goring & Streatley
Views from the river – take to the water in a boat hired at The Swan for a lazy day on the river. Picnics can be provided.
Locks and weirs – from the Streatley side of the river: pick up the signs for The Thames Path by the church behind the Swan, to take the ½ mile stroll from Goring Lock to Cleeve Lock, the shortest ‘reach' between locks on the whole length of the Thames. A series of weirs and islands lead to the lock and its picnic garden, where sheep may be wandering on the river bank. The island adjoining the weir walkway has a famous owner: Pete Townsend of The Who.
In the countryside
Views of the Thames Walks – download details of these circular walks, where distances range from 4 to 10 miles. From Goring the walks lead out through wildflower meadows to the top of the North Wessex Downs, with amazing views of the Chiltern Hills and Thames Valley. The Goring section of the walk has an accompanying children's quiz. There's an extra information sheet for enthusiasts of historic, geological and archaeological features.
From Goring you can follow the Ridgeway National Trail, England's most ancient highway towards South Stoke. The route follows the Thames passing through water meadows to the very door of The Perch & Pike at South Stoke. You can also Take a boat trip with Salter's Steamers. Scheduled passenger services from Goring run up river to Wallingford and down river to Beale Park, Mapledurham and Reading.
Henley-based brewer and pub operator Brakspear has launched a Country Ale Trail in Goring’s rural hinterland to encourage walkers and cyclists to explore some really lovely, off the beaten track pubs. The John Barleycorn in Goring is a traditional Brakspear pub in Goring offering B&B for those wanting to spend longer exploring the area.
What to head for further afield
Pangbourne – 4 miles from Goring & Streatley.
Wallingford – 6½ miles from Goring & Streatley.
Mapledurham – 6.8 miles from Goring & Streatley. Fans of The Wind in the Willows have a soft spot Mapledurham, the mellow riverside house thought to have inspired illustrations of Toad Hall. The was completed in 1612, and has since been handed down through various descendants to the Eyston family, whose home it is today. The Old Watermill, which dates back to the 15th century, is the only mill on the Thames that is still working and producing high quality stone ground flour.
Basildon Park – 3 miles from Goring & Streatley. Familiar to TV viewers as a location for the BBC's popular adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Basildon Park is the very model of a dignified Georgian mansion in expansive parkland. In the mid 1950s, the elegant interior was restored by owners Lord and Lady Iliffe who salvaged 18th century fixtures and fittings and filled the house with the fine paintings, fabrics and furniture which are enjoyed there today.
Beale Park Wildlife Park and Gardens – 3 miles from Goring & Streatley. A great favourite with young visitors: adventure, animals, play and activities amongst gardens and lakes on the banks of the River Thames.
The Living Rainforest – 16 miles from Goring & Streatley. This exotic attraction explores and presents some of the wonders of the rainforest including lizards, birds and butterflies, monkeys, a crocodile, toucans and, snakes and many of the best-known plants which give us foods, medicines and cosmetics.
Wallingford Museum – 6½ miles from Goring & Streatley. The Museum includes The Wallingford Story, a SIGHT & SOUND experience which takes a walk along Wallingford's timeline from the Romans and Saxons to the Civil War - including a miniature re-creation of Wallingford's huge royal Castle.