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Ashclyst Forest long butterfly walk


A leisurely walk along sunken lanes and woodland rides and through broad-leaved and coniferous woodland, good for fritillary butterflies (pearl-bordered, small pearl-bordered and silver-washed), white admiral and other butterflies.

A gentle butterfly hunt through fields and woodland

This walk starts from the bus stop on the Killerton road junction, but for an alternative start point, park in the main Ashclyst Forest car park at Forest Gate (grid ref: SY000995), and join the route clockwise at number 5 on the route map.

Butterfly in Ashclyst Forest, Killerton
See how many butterflies you can spot in Ashclyst Forest National Trust Images / Matthew Oates


Map route for Ashclyst Forest butterfly walk (long)
© Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey


Bus stop at Killerton road junction on B3181, grid ref: SX983997, or Forest Gate car park, grid ref: SY000995


To reach the start point from the main Killerton House car park, walk back out onto the approach road, cross it and take the footpath directly opposite the house drive entrance, through New Park and out onto the road. Turn right, cross the motorway bridge and follow directions from the bus stop, as below. From the bus stops at Killerton junction, head north (towards Cullompton). At the crest of a low hill, after 275yd (250m), turn right up the National Trust footpath along a sunken way. Follow this until it ends at a field gate. Turn left into the field and downslope, following the now grassy footpath. Cross a stream bridge. Follow the waymarked path to the right and then upslope along a hedge, turning right by the road corner, and follow path until it leads into the road through a hunting gate. Turn right on to the road, follow this for 330yd (300m), then turn right into a bridleway at the start of the forest.

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Bridleway runs along a short, shady section before rising up and broadening out into an open area of bracken and birch. Keep straight on, along and down, following the broad ride.

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Follow the straight bridleway down into tall, dense woodland. Then, follow the bridleway markers uphill. The good surface will soon run out and the way become muddy. Just past the crest of a rise, bear left and then right, following the bridleway (and avoiding two straight-ons and the footpath). This takes you downhill through conifer woodland (which is being thinned out and opened up), down to the road.

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At the road, turn left then immediately right, squeezing under the barrier, and proceeding downhill, shortly to turn left at the bend, then walking down to, and crossing, the stream before rising up. This leads into the broad ride known as The Wayleave (under the electricity cables). Follow the Wayleave path round to the left. The bracken areas here are the best places for pearl-bordered and small pearl-bordered fritillaries in Ashclyst, and are managed for these two scarce butterflies. Carry on along and up, to turn left into a narrow shady path on the far summit.

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The often muddy, shady path twists round to meet a lane. At the lane, turn right and walk down towards the cottages. Just before the cottages, by the bench, turn left and take the surfaced path through tall oak and holly woodland. This path is being opened up. It quickly leads to the main Ashclyst car park, which is an oval-shaped design. Turn right, to walk along the car park route anticlockwise. As it starts to rise, turn right to follow the Purple Route down and over a little bridge.

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At the corner by the road, turn right down a long, straight and open section of ride that leads into a Douglas fir plantation. Turn right at the junction here, following the Purple Route down and round. Towards the bottom, in damp woodland, leave the Purple Route (which bears right), carrying straight on, along the bridleway, with tall sallows on your right. This path slowly bends to the left and becomes boggy, with tall old oaks on your right. Eventually this muddy path, running along the bottom of the Ashclyst slope, opens out, just past a minor stream gully with a small pond.

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Just after the ride opens and dries out, turn sharp left up a broad open ride, called Snaffle Park Drive. Dawdle up this butterfly-rich ride to the road.

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Walk up a short section of shady lane, to a T-junction. This is a classic stretch of Devon lane, carrying one vehicle every 15 minutes.

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At the minor T-junction, cut diagonally across to enter and walk through Rewe's Cross car park, and then along a shady ride through a developing conifer plantation. Turn left at the minor junction, and head downhill for 275yd (250m), before turning right at the junction by a red and green-topped post. A short shady stretch between oaks and conifers suddenly opens out, providing views of Killerton House and offering thoughts of afternoon tea and cake. Carry on straight down to the bottom bridleway you came along much earlier, then turn right to leave the forest, and left back out on to the approach road. Then follow the route you took up to the forest (1) back down to Killerton junction.

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Killerton House main car park and tea-rooms, grid ref: SS973001

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Ashclyst Forest long butterfly walk


Field and woodland paths on heavy clay on a gentle slope. Many paths muddy, even boggy, especially after rain.

We have an ambitious programme to open up shady rides and provide better surfaces along the muddier stretches, over a three year period. Sunnier rides will be good for butterflies and will also dry out better.

Well behaved dogs and owners always welcome.

Ashclyst Forest long butterfly walk

Contact us

Ashclyst Forest long butterfly walk

How to get here

Killerton, Broadclyst, Exeter, Devon, EX5 3LE
By train

Pinhoe, not Sunday, 4.5 miles (7km); Whimple, 6 miles (9km); Exeter Central and St David's, both 7 miles (11km); Tiverton Parkway, 9 miles (14km).

By road

Off Exeter to Cullompton road (B3181); from M5 northbound, exit 30 via Pinhoe and Broadclyst; from M5 southbound, exit 28.

Parking in main National Trust car park for Killerton House - take footpath directly opposite entrance to main drive, through New Park, cross motorway via road, follow directions for walk, which starts at the bus stops by the T-junction.

By bus

Stagecoach 1 (A or B), Exeter to Tiverton Parkway railway station, via Cullompton (passing close Exeter Central railway station), alight Killerton.

By bicycle

National Cycle Network Route 52.

Ashclyst Forest long butterfly walk

Facilities and access

  • Well behaved dogs and owners always welcome