Newtimber Hill butterfly walk

Walking trail

A long circular route up, along and down the crest of the South Downs, and back along a winding valley behind the escarpment.

Discover rare flora and fauna amongst the flower-filled grassland

One of the best downs for butterflies and flowers on the South Downs, with Adonis and chalkhill blues, dark-green fritillary and silver-spotted skipper. Also good for orchids, including many frog orchids, red star thistle, round-headed rampion, drifts of devil's-bit scabious and autumn gentian.

A male dark green fritillary butterfly suns itself on a child’s hand


Map route for Newtimber Hill butterfly walk


Lay-by off C road (old A road, now bypassed), grid ref: TQ268119


From lay-by on east side of road, climb up the bank using the minor chalk track that leads to a stile. Climb over and head diagonally and gradually upslope and left, aiming to the left of a prominent clump of ash trees on the summit. Pick up the main cattle track that skirts below this clump. Use this cattle track to head above the field terraces down the slope, through an area of myriad ant hills, towards the far upper slope. This track will lead you into a corridor through woodland, by an old post. (On windy days, from the stile, hug the lower path that runs along the slope bottom, through two belts of trees, eventually reaching the top of some steps on your left. You then need to ascend a very steep slope to join the cattle track mentioned above).

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A delicate and rare silver spotted skipper butterfly suns itself on a leaf


Follow the main cattle track into the ash woodland, into a large open glade. There you'll find a dark brick building base (a milking stand). Here, after admiring the view, turn right and uphill, through a narrow path across a belt of scrub and out on to open short turf. Cross this turf, aiming straight ahead towards the old dew ponds.


Turn right down a vehicle track by the main dew pond. This runs through hawthorn scrub out on to open downland in the saddle between two hills. Here, bear left and down along the scrub edge, turning near a lone ash tree on your right. This isn't especially good for butterflies as it's over-grazed by rabbits, but you may see small heath, meadow brown and common blue.

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Head down and slightly left, past old field terraces. Then cut left and up to meander along the lower slope of the south-facing combe, continuing until you see a fence line in front of you. Then aim for the gate in the bottom right corner of the fence.

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


After the gate, walk along cattle tracks running along the lower slopes. Avoid the slope bottom track as that runs through rather flowerless and butterfly-free terrain. Eventually come down to the track, to leave the slope by a field gate.

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After the gate, turn right on to the farm lane, through another gate and follow the track through the farm. You can visit the old donkey wheel and some of the old farm buildings. The tea shack is in the furthest of the small farmyards, just off the main track.

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Carry on along the lane, continuing straight on and going through a field gate back on to the down. Aim to the left and downslope of the old chalk quarry, before aiming right upslope a bit, keeping the ash tree belt on your left. Follow a cattle track along the lower downland slope back to the stile by the lay-by.

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Lay-by off Saddlecombe Road , grid ref: TQ268119

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Newtimber Hill butterfly walk


Chalk escarpment, avoiding steepest slopes. One modest ascent, no steep descents. Largely dry ground but some muddy patches when wet. No made up paths. Much of route is over short turf or along cattle tracks.

Dogs are welcome but must be kept on leads, as livestock in surrounding fields. No dog bins so please take dog litter home.

Newtimber Hill butterfly walk

Contact us

Telephone: 01273 857712



Newtimber Hill butterfly walk

How to get here

Poynings, West Sussex Downs, nearest postcode BN45 7DE
By train

Brighton, 5 miles (8km) from Devil's Dyke, then take 77 bus.

By road

Signposted 2 miles (3.2km) north of A27 Brighton ring road and 1 mile (1.6km) south of A281. Nearest postcode BN45 7DE. Parking lay-by opposite Saddlescombe Farm entrance.

By foot

Footpaths from Brighton (5 miles/8km), Fulking and Poynings (both 1 mile/1.6km) or South Downs Way. Option to link into The Telegraph Devil's Dyke walk

By bus

Service 77 from Brighton (Brighton & Hove Buses), weekends and bank holidays, daily in high summer. Alight Devil's Dyke and walk down to Saddlescombe Farm.

By bicycle

Cycle path from Hove off National Cycle Network Route 20, plus others including South Downs Way.

Newtimber Hill butterfly walk

Facilities and access

  • Dogs are welcome, but must be kept on leads where signs indicate livestock are grazing
  • Refreshments available seasonally at the Wildflourcafe at Saddlescombe Farm and Devil's Dyke pub (both non NT)