Ivinghoe Hills butterfly walk

Walking trail

This walk takes in the area where all the butterflies found on the Ivinghoe Hills are to be seen, including the rare Duke of Burgundy and other specialists of rough chalk downland such as chalkhill blue, dark-green fritillary and marbled white.

Discover a fantastic variety of butterflies and birds

The lower slopes hold one of the strongest colonies of Duke of Burgundy left in England. Also look out for dingy and grizzled skippers, brown argus and green hairstreaks.

Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire


Map route for Ivinghoe Hills butterfly walk


National Trust Steps Hill lower car park on west side of C road (Beacon Road), grid ref: SP96415


From the south-west corner of the grassy Steps Hill car park on the west side of the road, take the public footpath by the large brown sign marking the old military training area. Follow this recently widened path as it meanders through glades in scrubby woodland, turning right onto the bridleway before the crest of the escarpment. Follow this bridleway, through scrub and young oak woodland, passing the first gate out on to the downs on your left.

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Take the second gate on your left, by another large brown sign, onto the down above Incombe Hole. You don't need to go down the steep track into the Hole. Instead, follow vague sheep tracks that run above the right-hand crest of Incombe Hole, past isolated scrub bushes. Head for the ancient earthwork (embankment and ditch system) than runs down the spur on the right side of the Combe. Follow this ditch almost to the bottom of the scarp slope, but bearing right to cut across to the vehicle track that runs along the foot of the escarpment, joining the track to the right of a cattle trough.

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By the fence, bear right on a chalky track that runs along the foot of the downland slope. Carry on exploring this track until you reach a rickety gate.

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After a stile by the rickety gate, turn right up a sunken track sheltered by tall bushes. Here you have an option to make a detour before turning right: carry on along this bottom of the slope path, through a shady section, with a badger's sett, into a large paddock of rough grassland and bushes. This is a good area for dark-green fritillary and chalkhill blues on the shorter turf upslope. When you are ready, retrace your steps and turn left up the sunken track.

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Green Hairstreak at Ashridge Herts


Just before the road bends, bear right to pick up the vehicle track that leads up the scarp slope crest southwards. You can do another detour here: cross the road carefully, follow the broad chalky path for 110yd (100m), then veer off left to explore short turf banks and gulleys, before recrossing the road and rejoining the route. On the vehicle track, ignore the footpath leading off to the right and carry on up the steep slope through open grassland.

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Just before the track disappears into the scrub, fork left down a bumpy track that ambles through patches of hawthorn scrub. Then turn left to join a rutted track, which leads back to the car park where you began.

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National Trust Steps Hill lower car park on west side of C road (Beacon Road), grid ref: SP96415

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Ivinghoe Hills butterfly walk


Circular route down, along and back up the Chilterns escarpment, using the more gentle inclines. Some muddy paths, brambles and prickles.

Dogs are welcome, but should be kept under close control at all times to avoid worrying wildlife.

Ivinghoe Hills butterfly walk

Contact us

Ivinghoe Hills butterfly walk

How to get here

Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire (near Tring, Hertfordshire)
By train

Tring Station, 2 miles (3km). Cheddington Station, 3.5 miles (5.6 km)

By road

Turn south off B489 or west off B4506. Park in the bottom, southern end, of the National Trust car park on the west side of this C road (Beacon Road).

By foot

Off the Icknield Way east of Ivinghoe.

By bus

Bus stop on B489 above Ivinghoe Aston, within a mile or so of the route.

By bicycle

Access on road only to the Ivinghoe Hills via B489 or B4506 (both leading to Beacon Road). No cycle trails along the walk.

Ivinghoe Hills butterfly walk

Facilities and access

  • Toilets and non-NT café (outdoor seating only) can be found at the Ashridge Estate Visitor Centre
  • Dogs are welcome, but should be kept under close control at all times to avoid worrying wildlife