Devil's Dyke butterfly walk

Devil's Dyke Road, Near Brighton, West Sussex

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Green hairstreak © National Trust/ Matthew Oates

Green hairstreak

Marbled white butterfly © www.northeastwildlife.co.uk

Marbled white butterfly

Speckled wood butterfly © National Trust/ Matthew Oates

Speckled wood butterfly

From Devil's Dyke you can look towards Newtimber Hill © John Miller

From Devil's Dyke you can look towards Newtimber Hill

Route overview

There are lots of butterflies of note on this walk, including large populations of Adonis blue, chalkhill blue and green hairstreak and smaller populations of brown argus, dark-green fritillary and silver-spotted skipper. Also, large populations of six-spot burnet moths (day-flying) and all three species of day-flying forester moth. There are a variety of chalk grassland flowers too, including drifts of common rockrose and horseshoe vetch and frequent carline thistle, dropwort and downland orchids.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map for Devil's Dyke butterfly walk, South Downs, West Sussex
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Main car park by Devil's Dyke Hotel, grid ref: TQ257110

  1. From the car park, take the first on the right, just by the roundabout, climb over the bank and walk down a short section of path. Turn left on to the main path running along the top of the Iron Age hill fort embankment. At the far end there are some stunted oaks.

    Show/HideGreen hairstreaks and other butterflies

    Green hairstreaks are usually numerous here during May and early June, with the males perching on the bushes. Also brown argus and various blue butterflies.

    Green hairstreak © National Trust/ Matthew Oates
  2. Swing left of the path after the bridle gate, to wander over the lower slope of the open downland, heading downslope of two stunted oaks on the spur, and dropping down to pick up a long flight of steps leading down to a kissing gate amongst hazel bushes.

    Show/HideButterflies

    A rich area of open fescue turf with a general butterfly interest, including many marbled whites and some dark-green fritillaries during July. Look for butterflies on tall thistle flowers in areas cleared of scrub, and on carline thistles during late summer.

    Marbled white butterfly © www.northeastwildlife.co.uk
  3. After the kissing gate at the foot of the steps, turn right to follow the main path through ash woodland. Straight over a cross rides and descend a flight of some 20 steps, cross the stile into the bottom of Dyke Valley.

    Show/HideButterflies and flowers

    A wooded section, with butterflies including speckled wood and spring flowers such as early purple orchids.

    Speckled wood butterfly © National Trust/ Matthew Oates
  4. After the stile, turn right to follow the main path up the Dyke's bottom, all the way up. (In windy weather, stay on this path but in calm weather follow one of the sheep tracks running along the lower slope, rejoining the main path later). Near the summit, the main path sweeps right. Follow it through the bridle gate back into the car park where you started.

    Show/HideButterflies and other wildlife

    Many green hairstreaks in spring, especially on sunny bushes, numerous brown argus, Adonis and chalkhill blues, and small heath and a few silver-spotted skippers in August and dark-green fritillaries in July. All three species of brilliant-green day-flying forester moth occur here, along with numerous burnt moths. A tremendous show of downland flowers, including carpets of rockrose and horseshoe vetch, and much dropwort and autumn gentian.

    From Devil's Dyke you can look towards Newtimber Hill © John Miller

End: Main car park by Devil's Dyke Hotel, grid ref: TQ257110

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
  • Time: 3 hours
  • OS Map: Explorer 17; Landranger 198
  • Terrain:

    Chalk downland valley with steep slopes. Dry ground, though downslope paths can be slippery when wet. Route avoids the steepest slopes - zig-zags downhill and takes gentle incline back up. Suitable for older children. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on leads, as livestock in surroundings fields. No dog bins so please take dog litter home.

  • How to get here:

    By foot: Footpaths from Brighton (5 miles / 8km), Fulking and Poynings (both 1 mile / 1.6km) or South Downs Way

    By bike: Cycle path from Hove off National Cycle Network Route 20, plus others, including the South Downs Way

    By bus: Service 77 from Brighton, daily in high summer, weekends and bank holidays for rest of year

    By train: Brighton 7 miles (11km) from Devil's Dyke, then take 77 bus

    By car: 2 miles (3km) north of A27 Brighton bypass. Nearest postcode for Sat Nav is BN1 8YJ

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