Headley Heath butterfly walk

Walking trail

A ramble through woodland and heathland on acidic soils, which leads you out onto chalk downland turf before returning onto heathland and back into woodland.

White admiral butterfly


Headley Heath butterfly trail map


Brimmer car park opposite Headley Grove Farm, grid ref: TQ206533


In Brimmer car park, with your back to the road, take the footpath that leads from the gate in the extreme right hand corner of the car park, along a broad path through birch woodland. Take the second left turning, which quickly appears at a cross rides where the trees thin. Follow this track along, looking at dragonflies on two small ponds on your right. Then take the fourth turn on your right past the second pond. You'll need to count! The first is soon after the second pond and the fourth soon after the third.

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A pale green brimstone butterfly resting on the purple flower of a spear thistle


This section is entirely in woodland. After turning fourth right, follow the track down, across a bridleway and down and out of a hollow. Carry on, as the path veers to the right, leading to and over a very muddy patch. Continue, and stop when the path reaches a circular glade fringed by tall oaks.

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White admiral butterfly


On bright afternoons during late June and July, walk across this glade (at the junction of six tracks) and turn round to look up at the two tall oaks at the end of the muddy path you've just walked. The dense-leaved oak on the left is a purple emperor 'master tree', where every afternoon (from 12.30pm until early evening) the males gather and chase each other and other winged creatures about, whilst waiting for females in need of their attentions.

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A close up of the Purple Emperor butterfly at Bookham Commons


Take the second exit from the right at the end of this circular glade, and follow this vehicle track right down. It opens up onto heathland, with gorse patches, and becomes a broad, short grassy ride. Carry on past a cattle trough and a big oak on the summit of a hill. Carry on - half way down the slope the geology suddenly changes from acidic sands to chalk, and the vegetation changes to chalk grassland and scrub. Go down the steps to the valley bottom.

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Brown Argus - Aricia agestis


In the combe bottom, bear right on to the track. Then, at the base of a set of steps on your left, take the minor path that runs gently uphill and above the broad chalky vehicle track. This minor path meanders upslope, before re-joining the chalky track below the hill summit.

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Green Hairstreak Butterfly


The chalky track leads up to a cross rides of six tracks at the summit, where the geology changes back to acidic sand. At this junction, take the second path from the right, past a bench. This runs for a long way on level ground through scrubby heath and woodland, past a pond perched up on your left (Aspen Pond). Follow this track, past various intersections with very minor paths, all the way along to a major T-junction.

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A silver washed fritillary butterfly


At the T-junction, bear left and walk back along part of your way out, to the two ponds. But opposite the first pond, turn right down a narrow path with sallow bushes and brambles that soon leads to the car park.

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A purple hairstreak butterfly


Brimmer car park opposite Headley Grove Farm, grid ref: TQ206533

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Headley Heath butterfly walk


Circular walk across mainly flat or gently undulating land, with a moderately steep descent and a moderately steep ascent. Many of the paths are muddy, even locally boggy after rain. Myriad paths, especially through the woods, so you'll need to follow directions carefully. Dogs welcome, but please keep them under control around grazing livestock.
Headley Heath butterfly walk

Contact us

Headley Heath butterfly walk

How to get here

Brimmer car park opposite Headley Grove Farm, grid ref: TQ206533
By train

Box Hill and Westhumble station, 3 miles (4.8km)

By road

Exit M25 at J9 (Leatherhead) and take A24 south (Leatherhead bypass road) towards Dorking. Then B2033 (Headley Common Road) to Headley Village

By foot

From North Downs Way at Box Hill, follow footpaths to Headley Heath (5 hour circular walk from Box Hill), see OS map Explorer 146

By bus

Surrey Connect 516, Dorking to Leatherhead and Epsom, alight Headley. SeeSurrey County Council's travel website for further information

By bicycle

See directions by car

Headley Heath butterfly walk

Facilities and access

  • Car park