Rodborough Common butterfly walk

Walking trail

The steep grassland slopes of Rodborough Common offer superb butterflying, walking and views over the Severn Estuary.

See Adonis blue butterflies back after a 40 year absence

Look out for more than 30 varieties of butterfly, including rare species like the Duke of Burgundy and Adonis blue, that come here each summer to feed and breed on an amazing variety of wildflowers.

Rodborough Common, Duke of Burgundy butterfly, Gloucestershire


Map route for Rodborough Common butterfly walk


National Trust car park, grid ref: SO850035


From the car park, head south-west on a path skirting round the houses on the summit of the plateau. Keep the houses on your left. Rodborough Common was given to the National Trust in 1937 by a keen naturalist and lepidopterist (butterfly expert), Thomas Bainbrigge Fletcher. His butterflies are faring well.


When you reach the grassy outcrop of Rodborough Manor Spur, turn right, away from the houses (before reaching the busy Bear Hill Lane). Head down the slope of the spur. Pasque flowers grow above the road here. Duke of Burgundy and small blue butterflies can also be found on the lower, steep combe slopes. Follow the cattle tracks north, traversing along the bottom of the slope towards Kingscourt and Little London. A variety of butterflies can be spotted here the steeper hillsides are brilliant for Adonis blue.

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A beautiful male Adonis blue butterfly suns itself on a blade of grass


North of Little London, between the houses and the larch grove, is a good colony of Duke of Burgundy butterfly (best seen mid-May).

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Duke of Burgundy butterfly


Continue north, still across the steep lower slopes of the common. Before you reach Rodborough Fort, head uphill, towards the plateau road (the commons far north end is not great for butterflies).

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Cross the road and explore the slopes of Butterrow Hill for all three blue butterflies before returning south to the car park. Then, turn right on leaving the car park, and either walk along the grassy verges or drive to point six. To do this, take the first left off the plateau road and head straight over a crossroads, till you reach Winstone's Ice Cream Factory.

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After an ice cream, continue along this lane, soon coming to more open common. Keep on this route (don't turn left downhill) and look out for a cattle trough on the left. Laurie Lee, the writer of Cider with Rosie, once wrote of Stroud, 'If ever I saw blessing in the air I see it now in this still early day'.


Park here (if in your car) and walk downhill to Swellshill Bank. This is the best place to see both Duke of Burgundy and Adonis blue.


National Trust car park, grid ref: SO850035

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Rodborough Common butterfly walk


To Swellshill and back. The route follows natural grassy tracks, open grassy hillsides and a quiet tarmac lane. An alternative quiet lane between points 2 and 3, on the west side of the plateau, is excellent for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

Dogs are welcome, but please ensure they are kept under close control near livestock.

Rodborough Common butterfly walk

Contact us

Rodborough Common butterfly walk

How to get here

Rodborough Common, Stroud, Gloucestershire
By train

Stroud, 1 mile (1.6km).

By road

In the Cotswold Hills, south of Stroud and north of Minchinhampton Common. Just off A419 Swindon to Stroud road, climb up hill via small steep roads.

By bus

Bus 28, Stroud station to Cirencester, 1 mile (1.6km).

By bicycle

National Cycle Network Route 45 follows Nailsworth stream at the bottom of the hill, 1 mile (1.6km) away to west.

Rodborough Common butterfly walk

Facilities and access

  • Dogs are welcome, but please ensure they are kept under close control near livestock