Butterfly walks in the South East

A butterfly dancing from blossom to blossom in a flower meadow is a standout moment in anyone’s summer walk. These colourful emblems of warmth and sunshine are our best-loved insect and we’ve been working hard to manage particular sites to benefit butterflies. Choose one of our walks where you can indulge your passion for wildlife and see if you can spot beautiful butterflies like the Adonis blue on a walk at Newtimber Hill in West Sussex, or the rare pearl bordered fritillary in Hampshire.

Welcome back sign in field

Walking with us

This article was created before the coronavirus crisis, and may not reflect the current situation. There may be restrictions in place on some of these walks. Please make sure you check web pages for individual places before you travel for booking details and the most up to date information about visiting

Purple emperor butterfly
Walking trail

The Bookham Common butterfly walk 

Bookham Common is a favoured home for the rare and magnificent Purple Emperor butterfly. This is due to decades of work by our rangers to protect the specialist habitats it needs. This walking trail takes you through one of the best woods in England for sighting the elusive Purple Emperor butterfly.

Marbled White Butterfly
Walking trail

Newtown National Nature Reserve, Isle of Wight 

Keeping things as natural as possible means that many different species of wild flower and grass are able to flourish. They create a perfect environment for butterflies such as the common blue, small heath, marbled white and small skipper.

Butterfly in the garden in the summer at Monk's House, East Sussex
Walking trail

Devil's Dyke, West Sussex 

This mile long walk over the chalk grassland at Devil's Dyke, West Sussex, is overflowing with butterflies, moths and drifts of grassland flowers. Spot the Adonis blue, chalkhill blue and green hairstreak with smaller populations of brown argus, dark-green fritillary and silver-spotted skippers.

A pearl bordered fritillary butterfly on speedwell flowers

Butterflies on Stockbridge Down 

Over 40 species of butterfly thrive at Stockbridge Down. Declining varieties such as the Duke of Burgundy and pearl-bordered fritillary can be spotted here, encouraged through careful habitat management.

Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire
Walking trail

Ivinghoe Hills butterfly walk 

This walk takes in all of the best butterfly habitat to be found on the Ivinghoe Hills. Keep your eyes peeled for the rare Duke of Burgundy as well as other specialists of rough chalk downland such as the chalkhill blue, dark-green fritillaries and the marbled white.

Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly
Walking trail

Selborne Common and The Lythe butterfly walk 

The sun-dappled beech woodlands and meadows of Selborne common attract hosts of butterflies in summer. Look out for silver-washed fritillaries and orange tips flitting across the glades. You may even spot a purple emperor as you stroll up the zig-zag hill.

picture of butterfly spotter guide

Butterflies of down and meadow - spotter guide 

Which butterflies will you see flitting amongst the wildflowers on chalk downland? To help you identify the rare and common species, print off the pdf, fold in half lengthways, then concertina-fold to create a handy, palm-sized guide to take on your walk.

silver studded blue butterfly

How we look after butterflies 

Butterflies are the diva of the insect world. They have the showiest outfits and they can also be incredibly picky about their food and lodgings. Find out how our rangers cater to their whims.

Other places to spot butterflies