Walking

Walking

Paradise on the Isle of Wight butterfly walk

Walking

Butterflying does not get any better than this; walking along the chalk ridge that runs through the middle of the Isle of Wight you will find an abundance of flora and insect life, pure escapism into the real world.

A great day out in the countryside

This is a great site for Adonis blue and chalkhill blue butterflies, with large populations of small blue, dark-green fritillary and Glanville fritillary. Brown argus and grayling can also be spotted. In late summer you can often catch a glimpse of the clouded yellow.

Views over Compton Bay from the slopes of Afton Down

Map

Compton Bay And Downs Paradise On Isle Of Wight Map

Elevation

Paradise on Isle Of Wight Elevation Profile

Start:

Compton Chine/Afton Down car park, grid ref: SZ367854

1

Start in Afton Down car park (National Trust) by the main road. This is usually great for blues.

2

Cross the road from the car park, turn right until you see a diagonal rising chalky path on the right hand side, signed bridleway F34. Take this path through a golf course to reach the crossing track – the Tennyson Trail.

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A view to the sea over the trimmed gorse on Compton Down

3

Head eastwards along the track along the crest of the downs, eventually descending steeply. Dark-green fritillary abounds amongst the cut gorse areas in July.

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Galloway cattle on Compton Downs, Isle of Wight

4

20yds (20m) after a “No entry for vehicles” sign and just after a track joining from right, turn sharp left and round up into Brook Down quarry to explore the quarry slopes and gorse glades.

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Brook Down's large disused chalk quarry is a great place to see butterflies, like the grizzled skipper shown

5

Head back to cross the main track and bear left just before the “No entry for vehicles” sign. Follow this grassy track upwards. Look out for Adonis blues. At the crest of the rise by cattle pens, bear to the right of two gateposts marking the track leading down the hill.

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Adonis blue butterfly

6

Follow one of the lower cattle tracks/teracettes parallel to the track. This is open downland with no well defined footpaths. Aim just to the right of a line of gorse bushes at the base of the hill in the distance, or the main road beyond. Follow this low level and fairly flat tracks as far as Compton Combe, always keeping on the downs side of the fence line. Clouded yellows are often seen here and on the upper slopes of the camp-site field on the other side of the fence.

Chalkhill blue and small blue butterflies

7

Blue butterflies are usually best found in and around Compton Combe, above Compton Farm.

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The steep-sided grassy coombe at Compton a one of the best places to see butterflies

8

You need to climb up the combe and leave at the top right, about three quarters of the hill height. Find and take a level track through gorse to a five bar gate in the fence into an un-grazed section (unfortunately there is no gate lower down). Continue straight on along the now well-defined grassy track, which descends eventually to the car park. This area is best for graylings, green hairstreaks and small blues.

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Dark green fritillary butterfly, with wings open and closed

9

During the Glanville fritillary season (June to early August), take a detour to Compton Chine via the road verge or the coast path from the car park. Go down the wooden steps. Enjoy! It’s a great bathing beach.

A pair of Glanville fritillary butterflies share a meal

End:

Compton Chine/Afton Down car park, grid ref: SZ367854

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Paradise on the Isle of Wight butterfly walk

Terrain

Download a GPX file of the trail here for your smartphone or GPS.
 
This is a circular walk with:
  • Gates=2
  • Kissing gates=0
  • Stiles=0
  • Steps=0
  • Bridges=0
There are some steep slopes and tracks are not clearly defined on side of the down. The exposed downs can be windy, and the chalk is slippy in wet conditions.
 
Dogs are welcome, but please keep your dog on a lead around wildlife and take any mess home with you. 
 
Paradise on the Isle of Wight butterfly walk

Contact us

Paradise on the Isle of Wight butterfly walk

How to get here

Address
Compton Chine/Afton Down car park, Compton Bay, Isle of Wight. The nearest postcode is PO40 9TY.
By road

Compton Chine/Afton Down car park is in an old quarry site, east of Freshwater Bay and west of Shippards Chine on the A3055 Military Road. The nearest postcode is PO30 4HF.

By foot

The Isle of Wight coastal path passes Compton Chine (route step 9) and is a olny a few yards from the start point car park..

By ferry
  • Lymington - Yarmouth (Wightlink, 0871 376 1000): 6 miles (9.5km)
  • Fishbourne - Portsmouth (Wightlink, 0871 376 1000): 16 miles (26km)
  • East Cowes - Southampton (Red Funnel, 0844 844 9988): 17 miles (27km)
By bus

Southern Vectis (01983 827000) No.12 mostly two-hourly service from Newport to Totland passes the car park. Alight at Compton Chine.

By bicycle

'Round the Island' Sustrans Regional route 67 follows the A3055 Military Road past the start car park.

Paradise on the Isle of Wight butterfly walk

Facilities and access

  • Three car parks for access to the coast, two are pay and display but free to National Trust members
  • Nearest toilets are at Shippards Chine and Freshwater Bay
  • Nearest refreshments are from a seasonal van at Shippards Chine or in Freshwater Bay