Social Events & Guided Walks

BUTTERFLY CONSERVATION 50TH ANNIVERSARY WALKS, 2018

 

This year we include a number of new sites we have not visited before as well as retaining special favourites from previous years. As well as their butterfly populations, all the sites are 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. But 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).

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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.

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Sunday 6th May BUCKLAND WOOD, east of Wellington in the Blackdown Hills.

Leader  Nigel Cottle tel 07483 887536 or 01823 335746

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 13th 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.

 

Saturday 19th May FRY’S HILL, Axbridge.

Leaders Nigel Cottle Tel: 07483 887536 and Ross Harley.

A 64.8-hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest on the southern slopes of the Mendips. The site is home to a good range of butterfly species including Dingy and Grizzled Skipper, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary etc.

Meet in the parking area at the northern end of Cheddar Reservoir. ST438543.

Please note the walk includes steep slopes.

 

Sunday 20th May. GIANT HILL, CERNE ABBAS, Dorset. A joint walk with Dorset  Branch.

Leader Malcolm Wemyss tel 01935 872047 or 07977 287739 and  pearlborderedfritillary@gmail.com.

An exploration of this managed ancient grassland habitat for a large variety of late spring and early summer butterflies. There are widespread colonies of Duke of Burgundy and Marsh Fritillary – as well as Green Hairstreak, Common Blue, Dingy and Grizzled Skippers to be seen. 

Please be aware of occasional steeper slopes, and do bring a packed lunch for an extended walk into the afternoon. Meet at 11.00 am in the picnic area car park opposite the village hall, map reference ST 663 015. 

 

Sunday 3rd June STOKE CAMP, in Mendips north of Draycott village

Leader John Ball tel 01749 870127

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.

 

Thursday 7th June HALSE COMBE, Exmoor nr Horner

Leaders Megan Lowe (BC) and Paul Camp (National Trust)

A circular walk around the National Trust's Halse Combe to view Heath Fritillary amongst other species. This is a good opportunity to learn about the ecology and habitat requirements of this butterfly and how experimental management here helped shape the future for Heath Fritillary on Exmoor.

Please park and meet in the Horner car park (TA24 8HY and SS898455). Contact Megan for more information: mlowe@butterfly-conservation.org 

 

Sunday 10th 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

 

Sunday 17th June PRIDDY MINERIES on the Mendips.

Leaders Geoff Hiscocks tel 01225 425921 or 07711 299178 and Peter Shirley 07967 226010

The target species are 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. Several species of dragonfly are usually seen.

Easy level walking but uneven in just a few places and can be muddy: stout footwear is advised.

Meet in Stockhill Plantation car park OS ref ST548 512.

 

Wednesday 20st June HADDON HILL and HADDON MOOR, near Upton, Exmoor

Leader Dave Ayling tel 01643 821664. A joint meeting with Dorset Branch members.

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.

 

Tuesday 3rd July 12pm - 2pm HEDDON VALLEY, Exmoor (EX31 4PY)

Leaders Megan Lowe (BC) and the National Trust.

Note that this walk will start at 12 noon and advance booking is essential via the National Trust (01598 763402). 

A fritillary-focused walk around Heddon Valley, where we hope to see High Brown, Dark Green, and Silver-washed Fritillary amongst many other species.

Please meet outside the NT shop at Heddon Valley EX31 4PY and SS655480

 

Saturday 7th July WALK FARM near Bruton,  between Wincanton and Frome

Leader Julian Rawlins tel 01963 240245

This is a joint walk with Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society.

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 11th 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.

 

Sat 14th July. NARROWAYS AND ASHLEY HILL ALLOTMENTS,  BRISTOL 

Leaders Maggie Moss tel  077545 94406 / 0117 924 9332 and Harry McPhillimy

Visit an unexpected urban site - less than 5 mins from IKEA! Attracting over 15 regular species – Grassland, allotments and woodland strip with Essex and Small skippers, Common Blue, Marbled Whites, Comma, Small Copper etc. Complimentary coffee and cake on arrival, walk finishes at a Cafe/Pub for anyone wanting lunch.

Meet at St Werburghs City Farm, Watercress Rd, Bristol BS2 9YJ (5 mins Junction 3 M32) see their website for directions. Park surrounding streets. Meeting point will be signed.

 

Sunday 15th 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

 

Wednesday 25th July BOSSINGTON on the coast near Porlock

Leader Dave Ayling tel 01643 821664

This is a Big Butterfly Count walk

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 26th July BREAN DOWN near Weston-super-Mare

Leader John Connolly tel 01823 274272

This is a Big Butterfly Count walk

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 5th August HATCH HILL in the Poldens south of Street

Leaders Dave and Gay Lester tel 01458 850772, Geoff & Marjorie Brunt tel 01458 850919

This is a Big Butterfly Count walk

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 11th August WESTBURY BEACON on the Mendips scarp.

Leader Peter Bright tel 01749 870640

This is a Big Butterfly Count walk

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.

 

Sunday 19th August. NETHERCLAY LNR, Taunton.

Leader Nigel Cottle Tel: 07483 887536.

Probably the best site in Somerset for seeing adult Brown Hairstreak.

Park at the entrance to the Silk Mills Park and Ride ST207255. After lunch there will be the opportunity to explore Silk Mills LNR which is host to Common Blue, Brown Argus, Small Copper etc.