Social Events & Guided Walks
Guided Butterfly Walks 2017
As well as their butterfly populations, the sites in this programme are without exception delightful places in their own right with considerable other wildlife interest and often historic or archaeological value as well. So, even if the occasional walk may not be in the most perfect of summer weather, you will still find plenty to appreciate.
Children and beginners are especially welcome. No dogs please as some of the sites have livestock on them. There is no charge for the walks.
Most walks are at the weekend but we have included some mid-week ones as well and aimed for a fair spread across the county plus one at Cerne Abbas Giant Hill in Dorset. Except where indicated, all walks start promptly at 11.00 am; please take care to arrive in good time. They are taken at an easy pace and end around 1.00-1.30 pm so a packed lunch may be a good idea.
Many sites include steep or rough or wet ground so stout shoes or boots (wellies if it’s been wet) are recommended.
If the weather is wet or unseasonably cold and dull, the walk will be cancelled. If you have a query about the walk please phone the Walk Leader or, if no contact details are given, phone John Andrews on 01278 426500. Any unavoidable last-minute changes will be posted on the Branch website
As well as the walks listed below, the National Trust’s Large Blue site at Collard Hill in the Poldens will be open during the flight period (see the NT website for details).
Butterfly Walks in Somerset and Bristol contains details of 37 walks in the county with maps and details of when best to visit. It includes many that are not part of this year’s guided walks programme and suggest those sites where you are most likely to see habitat specialists. It is obtainable by post from Butterﬂy Conservation, c/o 12 Alma Street, Taunton, TA1 3AH. Price £8.00 incl p&p. Please make cheques payable to Butterfly Conservation, Somerset and Bristol Branch.
Sunday 7th May BUCKLAND WOOD, east of Wellington in the Blackdown Hills Leader Nigel Cottle tel 07483 887536
A Forestry Commission reserve, managed by BC and the Neroche Project under a HLS Grant. See butterflies of woodland and flowery grassland with Duke of Burgundy, Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper the principal target species.
Parking inside reserve gate or on roadside at OS ref ST188 180.
Sunday 14th May WORLEY HILL, south of Street in the Poldens
Leaders David and Gay Lester tel 01458 850772 and Shane Potts,
A private reserve managed by the J&F Clark Trust and Millfield School. Target species include Brown Argus, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Green Hairstreak and Holly Blue.
Look for BC signs at a track entrance turning off the Street to Somerton road just over 1 mile south of Compton Dundon at OS ref ST495 308. Note that the turn is easy to miss if you are not looking out for it. Parking is at end of the track. This site is not in the Butterfly Walks book as it is not normally open to the public.
Sunday 21stnd May DOLEBURY WARREN, near Churchill in the Mendips
Leader Nigel Cottle tel 07483 887536.
An Avon Wildlife Trust reserve including an Iron Age hillfort holding a rich butterfly fauna. The walk will focus on looking for Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Brown Argus and Green Hairstreak.
The reserve entrance and a small car park are at the end of a single-track road east of the A38 at OS ref ST 446 587. Please note the walk includes steps and a steep slope.
Saturday 3rd June STOKE CAMP, in Mendips north of Draycott village
A BC reserve holding limestone grassland with spectacular views to the south across the Levels. Target Species are primarily Small Blue but also Brown Argus, Common Blue, Small Copper, the last of Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Large Skipper, Wall, Small Heath, the first Meadow Browns and perhaps an early Ringlet.
Meet at entrance to Draycott Sleights which is up New Road at ST487 514. Parking is limited along the road in lay-bys so share transport if possible. Farm vehicles use the road so get in tight to the hedges. This site is in the Butterfly Walks book on page 46.
Sunday 4th June GIANT HILL, Cerne Abbas, Dorset. Joint with Dorset Branch
Leader Malcolm Wemyss tel 07977 287739 and firstname.lastname@example.org
An exploration of this managed ancient grassland habitat seeking a variety of late spring and early summer butterflies. Recent years have seen an increase in colonies of Duke of Burgundy and possibly the return of the Adonis Blue. It will also be a good time for the Marsh Fritillary, as well as Green Hairstreak with Dingy and Grizzled Skippers.
Please be prepared for steep slopes in places, and bring a packed lunch for an extended walk into late afternoon. Meet at 11.00 am in the picnic area car park opposite the village hall, map reference ST 663 015.
Thursday 8th June HALSE COMBE, near Porlock, Exmoor
Leaders Megan Lowe (Butterfly Conservation) tel 07827 460767 and Paul Camp (National Trust)
A walk over Halse Combe to look for Heath Fritillary. This is a great opportunity to learn about its life cycle, habitat requirements and the work that is happening on Exmoor to restore its fortunes. There will be opportunities to help out with the survey afterwards for those interested to take part in the national monitoring of the species.
Sunday 11th June MOUNT FANCY FARM in the Blackdowns
Leader Liz Marsden tel 01460 240184
A BC reserve where we hope to see Large Skipper, Green-veined White, Orange-tip, Small Copper, Common Blue, Green Hairstreak, Speckled Wood and two day-flying moths Chimney Sweeper and Burnet Companion.
Park at FC car park on north side of minor road between Widcombe and Castle Neroche at OS ref ST 247 159 and then a 5 min walk from here down the Herepath; at the foot of the slope turn left though the gate to Mount Fancy Farm. OS ref ST252 164
Saturday 17th June GREEN DOWN in the Poldens east of Somerton
Leader Nigel Cottle tel 07483 887536
This is a joint visit with Dorset Branch. Note start time is 11.30am.
A Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve and one of the key introduction sites for Large Blue. As well as Large Blues we may see Large Skipper, Brown Argus, Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Small Heath and Ringlet.
Parking is on the roadside at ST 512 289. Parking space is limited so please car-share if possible.
More info on the site including directions is at http://www.somersetwildlife.org/green-down.html.
After visiting the site, people way wish to go the Large Blue site at Collard Hill which is wardened by the National Trust through the flight season. The site is about 5 m north of Green Down off the B3151 road from Somerton to Street. Parking is at a Youth Hostel at ST 481 346 and then walk west crossing the B3151 and follow the signs. The NP posts info on the internet from the start of the flight period and there is a helpful location map at last year’s warden’s blog – www.ntlargeblue.wordpress.com/collard-hill-map/
Sunday 18th June PRIDDY MINERIES on the Mendips.
Leaders Geoff Hiscocks tel 01225 425921 or 07711 299178 and Chris Woods
The target species is Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and other species on the wing are likely to include Large Skipper, Small Copper, Common Blue, Small Heath and Chimney Sweeper moths
Easy walking but uneven in places and can be muddy: stout footwear is advised. Meet in Stockhill Plantation car park OS ref ST548 512.
Wednesday 21st June HADDON HILL and HADDON MOOR, near Upton, Exmoor
Leader Dave Ayling tel 01643 821664
Heath Fritillary is the prime species at Haddon Hill, a moorland edge site above Wimbleball Reservoir that also holds Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Marbled White and Small Heath amongst others. Haddon Moor is a BC Reserve holding wet grassland with Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and appreciable botanical interest.
Meet at parking area on the north side of the B3190 at SS979 285, about a mile west of Upton. If you wish to visit both sites, best to bring a packed lunch.
Sunday 2nd July SHAPWICK HEATH National Nature Reserve, south of Westhay.
Leader David Auld tel 01278 722529
A visit to the National Nature Reserve to look for Purple Hairstreak, Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral, Scarlet Tiger-moth, dragonflies and damselflies
Meet at Avalon Marsh Centre at ST425 414. For those who wish, there will be a walk to the Canada Farm part of the NNR after lunch.
Wednesday 12th July LORDS WOOD, near Pensford
Leader Roger Perkins tel 07505 364975
A private woodland managed by the Forestry Commission with rides, ponds, etc., which is kept open, cleared and landscaped by the owners. Target species are White Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary and Hairstreaks.
Meet at OS reference ST631 632. The lane goes off right from the A37 (at Whitley Batts) about half a mile north of Chelwood roundabout. It can be easily missed since it appears to go up beside a house and is not signposted.
Sunday 16th July CROOK PEAK
Leader Nigel Cottle tel 07483 887536
Crook Peak is a steep climb from which one can look west over Brean Down to Wales, east towards Cheddar and down on the scurrying ants on the M5. It holds a good range of limestone grassland species with Grayling, Marbled White and Brown Argus numbered amongst them.
Meet at the roadside parking at OS ref ST393 551
Saturday 22nd July WALK FARM near Bruton, between Wincanton and Frome
Leader Julian Rawlins tel 01963 240245
This is a new addition to the walks programme. Walk Farm covers more than 200 acres of unimproved and flower-rich meadow and pastureland, which is still farmed using the same traditional methods that were used in the 1950s. We hope, therefore, to find many species in larger than usual numbers, including Large, Small and possibly Essex Skipper, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper, as well as other wider countryside species such as Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Marbled White and Common Blue. We may also find Painted Lady and Clouded Yellow. If there is not much sunshine and butterflies are scarce, a wide variety of wildflowers is guaranteed.
Meet at Walk Farm, Grid reference ST 724 333, where parking will be available in the farmyard.
Wednesday 26th July BOSSINGTON on the coast near Porlock
Leader Dave Ayling tel 01643 821664
The principal target at this rugged coastal site, which has stunning views along the coast towards Porlock Weir, is Grayling but other species likely to be present include Dark Green Fritillary and Silver-washed Fritillary as well as Comma, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper
Meet at National Trust car park in Bossington village at OS ref SS897 480. Please note this is a pay and display car park, although free to NT members.
Thursday 27th July BREAN DOWN near Weston-super-Mare
Leader John Connolly tel 01823 274272
At the western end of the Mendips, jutting into the Bristol Channel, the National Trust’s Brean Down can be somewhat windswept at times but on a good day is an idyllic site and for this walk we will be looking for Chalkhill Blues plus Dark Green Fritillary, Brown Argus and Grayling, Marbled Whites and other species as well as some interesting flora.
Meet at car park at OS ref ST297 587.
Sunday 6th August HATCH HILL in the Poldens south of Street
Leaders Dave and Gay Lester tel 01458 850772, Geoff & Marjorie Brunt tel 01458 850919
Woodland and limestone grassland with a very good range of species. The main importance of the site is its population of Chalkhill Blues but other species likely to be flying include Brown Argus, Common Blue, Silver-washed Fritillary, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown.
This will be a Big Butterfly Count event.
Meet at car park at ST502 331 at Combe Hill Wood
Saturday 12h August WESTBURY BEACON on the Mendips scarp.
Leader Peter Bright tel 01749 870640
The newest of our reserves, where we are reintroducing grazing after a gap of many years. An important site for Chalkhill Blues with Small Skippers, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and several other species also possible. In clear weather, the view over the northern Levels and away west to Exmoor is superb too.
Parking will be along the roadside up from Rodney Stoke or Westbury-sub-Mendip, at OS ref ST507 507 near the small covered reservoir.