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Places to see butterflies

Written by
Matthew OatesSpecialist volunteer, butterflies, National Trust
Red admiral butterfly at Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire
Red admiral butterfly at Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire | © National Trust Images/Derek Hatton

Nothing says summer better than a walk in the sunshine with beautiful butterflies darting among the flowers and foliage. Our specialist butterfly volunteer, Matthew Oates, has chosen his top places to see butterflies across the country to help you spot butterflies during the summer months.

Ashclyst Forest, Devon
In spring and summer, Ashclyst Forest on the Killerton Estate is teeming with butterflies. On a leisurely 1.5 mile walk around the forest, you may see the small pearl-bordered fritillary. You might also see the silver-washed fritillary, which is known as the 'happiness butterfly’ and is especially attracted to red and orange clothing. Ashclyst is also popular with the bramble-loving white admiral.Find butterfies in Ashclyst Forest
Bookham Commons, Surrey
One of the best woods in England to see the rare and elusive purple emperor butterfly. Each afternoon in July and August at Bookham Commons, the males gather at two special clumps of trees and put on amazing territorial displays. You’ll also be able to see plenty of other butterflies with 29 British species found here, along with many birds.Go in search of purple emperors
Compton Down, Isle of Wight
Being slightly warmer than the mainland, the Isle of Wight is great place to spot butterflies, with 43 out of the UK’s 61 butterfly species in residence. This walk takes you along the chalk ridge that runs through the middle of the Isle of Wight where you'll find lots of lovely flora and insect life. Species you might see include the Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, brown argus, dark-green fritillary and Glanville fritillary. In late summer you can often catch a glimpse of the clouded yellow butterfly.Find butterflies on the Isle of Wight
A brown and black Pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly perched on purple flowers
A pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates
Cwm Tydu to Cwm Soden, Ceredigon
A steep combe running down to the sea leads to a small stony bay, through oak woodland and gorse and bracken glades. This is one of the last places in Wales where the pearl-bordered fritillary, small pearl-bordered, dark green and silver-washed fritillaries can be seen. Extensive work is carried out here each year to help ensure the survival of the pearl-bordered fritillary, which flies from late April to the end of May.Spot butterflies on a walk
Heddon Valley, Devon
This short but challenging walk takes you along some of the highest and most spectacular sea cliffs in England and is a must-do for butterfly lovers and photographers. Parts of this walk go through the habitat of the rare high brown fritillary, as well as the more common dark green and silver-washed fritillaries.See different butterflies in Heddon Valley
Adonis Blue butterfly
Adonis Blue butterfly | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates
Ivinghoe Hills, part of the Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire
The Ivinghoe Hills are rich in archaeological remains with an impressive Bronze Age hill-fort on the top of the Beacon. The slopes hold one of the strongest colonies of the tiny Duke of Burgundy, the dark green fritillary, chalkhill blue, and marbled white as well as many other scarce downland insects and a range of downland flowers. Also look out for the following, less scarce species of butterfly: dingy and grizzled skippers, brown Argus and green hairstreak.Try out the butterfly walk
Speke Hall, Liverpool
The meadows at Speke Hall are the perfect place to spot butterflies when they’re full of wildflowers – recent sightings include the day-flying six-spot burnet moth and small copper. Other butterflies that have established themselves include meadow browns, gatekeepers and common blues. Take the Hidden Paths trail and venture through the meadow to see which butterflies you can find.Spot butterflies in Speke's wildflower meadow
Welshmoor, North Gower, Wales
Take a relaxing walk around Welshmoor to enjoy the home of marsh fritillaries and narrow-bordered bee hawk-moths and look out for the 25 different species of butterflies in this hidden paradise for wildlife.See butterflies at Welshmoor
Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire
The meadows in Upper Wharfedale are extremely rich in flowers because of meadow management. The range of flowers attracts different types of butterflies, such as the common blue butterfly, which you can see flitting over grassland from May to October, as well as the northern brown argus and the green-veined white.See the butterflies in the Yorkshire Dales
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