Heddon butterfly walk

Walking trail

Follow this trail from the shady woodlands of the Heddon Valley up and along the coast path and onto the moors, along the way you'll see a plethora of butterflies, including the UK's most endangered butterfly the high brown fritillary.

Dark green fritillary male on thistle Heddon Valley


Map of Heddon butterfly route


Heddon Valley car park, EX31 4PY


This is our wildlife friendly car park area take a look around and see what pollinators you can see in our bug hotels or on the flowers. Once you are ready head left out of the car park down the road to the left of the pub and cross the stone bridge.


Take the path on the right of the road toward Heddon's Mouth, next to you is one of our orchards, according to the 1840s tithe maps most of the houses in the valley had their own orchards, this would have been one of them.


As you walk on the path towards Heddon's Mouth take the coast path on your left towards Combe Martin. The meadow's on your right and the Buddleia are great to see butterfly, you'll see dozens of species including the High Brown Fritillary in late June. You should now be heading up out of the valley, stay on the coast path 'till point 4. You'll pass Peter Rock, a great spot to enjoy the views and also to spot grayling and wall brown butterfly as well as peregrine falcons that nest on the cliffs.


At this point either head back inland to Trentishoe (in which case skip to point 13) or carry on toward Combe Martin on the coast path, as you talk along the coast path you'll pass Neck Wood an isolated wood with 6 different Sorbus species in it (whitebeams) also the oak grows curved due to the wind which made them great for shipbuilding, they used to be felled and thrown down to the sea for collection.


Turn left up to the summit of Holdstone Down and take in the view then head down to the road. As you turn left look out for dartford warblers among the dense gorse. As you Climb over the top of Holdstone Down on a clear day you'll be able to see as Dartmoor to the South and The Brecons in Wales to the North.


Cross the road and follow the path across the heath and down into the woods.


Turn left along ladies mile. As you walk along Ladies Mile you should see an array of woodland ride butterflies such as speckled wood. The butterflies are thriving here because of our recent work to create glades which in turn increases diversity of flora which supports more invertebrates, birds and bats.


At the cross roads carry on straight across, You will pass one of our best High brown Fritillary sites, come here toward the end of June and you should see some nectaring on the bramble or flying over the bracken. If you don't fancy doing the whole walk there is also a car park here where you'll often see the high brown fritillaries.


Join the road turning right, head down around the bend down at the road crossroad and then immediately left onto the footpath going down.


Carry straight on at this junction toward Hunters inn. Near the path junction is an impressive old lime tree probably planted as a boundary marker. It has a circumference of around 6m. Just next to it you'll see the old boundary stone known locally as ‘fat man’s grave’


Turn right across the wooden footbridge and up through the drive of the house then turn left along the track back towards The Hunter's Inn.


Turn right out of the track onto the road toward the Hunter's Inn and the car park.


(shortcut) turn left down the hill along the road. As you head along to 14 you'll pass through the best high brown fritillary site in the country. There are numerous high browns toward the end of June as well as dark green fritillary and at other times of year small pearl bordered fritillary and silver washed fritillary, sometimes all 4 can be seen on the wing depending on the year.


(shortcut) Turn left again following the road back around to the car park and Hunters inn.


Heddon Valley car park, EX31 4PY

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Heddon butterfly walk

How to get here

National Trust Car Park, Heddon Valley, Nr Parracombe, EX31 4PY
By road

Follow brown signsfor Heddon Valley, EX31 4PY.

Heddon butterfly walk

Facilities and access

  • Pub
  • Shop
  • Public toilets (accessible toilets)
  • Car park