Social Events and Guided Walks

BUTTERFLY CONSERVATION GUIDED WALKS, 2019

We include some new sites as well as retaining favourites from past 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.

There is no charge for the walks. Children and beginners are especially welcome. No dogs please as some of the sites have livestock on them.

Most walks are at the weekend but we have included some mid-week ones as well and aimed for a fair geographical spread. 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, boots or wellies are recommended. Tell the leader if you have health problems that might affect you on the walk.  Please be aware of the growing risk of Lyme Disease and take appropriate precautions.  

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.

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.

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Saturday 4th May WORLEY HILL, south of Street in the Poldens

NOTE THE CHANGE TO A SATURDAY THIS YEAR

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 5th May BUCKLAND WOOD, east of Wellington in the Blackdown Hills Leader 

Nigel Cottle tel 07503 974612

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. ST 188 180.

 

Saturday 11th May WALL & CATSFORD COMMONS, Bridgwater Bay

Leader Roger Musgrove tel 07801 295603

A coastal site between the villages of Steart and Stolford and part of the Bridgwater Bay NNR. Target species are Wall, Small Heath, Small Copper, Common Blue and Brown Argus.

Meet in Wall Common car park OS ref ST 261 452.

 

Sunday 19th May FRY’S HILL, Axbridge.

Leaders Nigel Cottle Tel: 07503 974612 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. OS ref. ST 438 543.

The walk will last for approx. 3 hours and includes steep slopes.

 

Sunday 2nd 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.

 

Tuesday 4th 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 

 

Wednesday 12th June  UBLEY WARREN in centre of Mendips near Charterhouse.

Leader Georgina Shuckburgh  tel 01761 462005.

Mostly in the SWT reserve it is a landscape shaped by centuries of lead mining creating gruffy ground.  Target species are Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Green Hairstreak along with the last of the Grizzled Skippers, Small and Large Skippers, Small Coppers, Common Blues, Small Heaths and the first of the Meadow Browns.

Meet at 11.00 am at the stile entrance having parked beside the road at ST504.555.  This site is in the Butterfly Walks booklet pages 44/45.

 

Sunday 23rd 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 SS970 284, about a mile west of Upton. If you wish to visit both sites, best to bring a packed lunch.

 

Wednesday 10th 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. A total of 19 species seen in 2018.

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.

 

Saturday 13th July   BANNERDOWN, Batheaston near Bath

Leader: Geoff Hiscocks tel 01225 425921 or 07711 299178

The walk will start at 1.30 pm. and end around 3.30 - 4.00pm. It is a joint meeting with Wiltshire Branch.

An opportunity for those in north Somerset to visit a local butterfly haunt close to the county’s border with Wilts and Glos. and for those further south to see what the north of Somerset has to offer. We hope to see both Large and Small Skippers, Marbled Whites, Gatekeepers, Ringlets and Common Blue. Usually at this time of year we also see one or two Small Copper, Purple Hairstreak, Brown Argus and Silver Washed Fritillary. Day-flying moths and Roesel’s Bush Crickets are also prevalent on the Common.

A circular walk and mainly easy, level going with a steep bank(with steps) at the southern end.  Meet at the parking area at ST794 689 on Bannerdown Road. The site is in the Butterfly Walks book on page 7. Parking is limited, so car-sharing is recommended.

 

Saturday 13th July WALK FARM, east of Bruton, between Wincanton and Frome. 

Leader Julian Rawlins.  Tel: 01963 240245; mobile 07716 244866.

Walk Farm covers more than 100 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 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.  Purple Hairstreak and Silver-washed Fritillary have also been seen here.  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 (OS Landranger sheet 183), where parking will be available in the farmyard.

 

Sunday 14th July CROOK PEAK

Leader Nigel Cottle tel 07503 974612

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 ST 393 551. The walk will last approx. 3 hours. Weather permitting we will stop for lunch at the top of the Peak.

 

Tuesday 23rd 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.

 

Wednesday 24th July LANGFORD HEATHFIELD near Wellington

Leader John Connolly tel 01823 274272

This is a Big Butterfly Count walk

Langford Heathfield is a 226 acre Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve near Langford Budville consisting of ancient broadleaf woodland, damp meadows and open areas grazed by ponies. Butterfly species include Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (unfortunately declining), Silver-washed Fritillary, Purple Hairstreak, Small and Large Skipper, Brown Argus, Marbled White and several other species. Marsh Fritillary have been seen in recent years and twenty species were recorded in one day at this time last year.

Walking is on boardwalks and generally flat ground but there are a few stiles to cross which might prove difficult for anyone with mobility problems. The walk is fairly long so a drink and some food is recommended. Meet at the parking place at the side of the road near Langford Budville at map reference ST 106 227 (the Jubilee Seat). Reserve details are available on the SWT website.

 

Wednesday 31st 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 4th 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 10th 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 18th August. NETHERCLAY LNR, Taunton.

Leader Nigel Cottle Tel: 07503 974612.

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

Park at the entrance to the Silk Mills Park and Ride OS ref. ST 207 255. After lunch there will be the opportunity to explore Silk Mills LNR where we should find Common Blue, Brown Argus, Small Copper etc.

 

Click here to see the latest branch events and talks on the Somerset & Bristol 'Events' page on the Butterfly Conversation website