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A pair of male High Brown Fritillary butterflies in June at Heddon Valley, Devon
A pair of male High Brown Fritillary butterflies in June at Heddon Valley | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

Heddon Valley's high brown fritillary walk

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.


There are a few shortcuts you can take on this route, to help you find the butterflies in good time. They're detailed in the trail steps.

Total steps: 14

Total steps: 14

Start point

Heddon Valley car park, EX31 4PY

Step 1

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

Step 2

Take the path on the right of the road toward Heddon's Mouth.

Step 3

As you walk on the path towards Heddon's Mouth take the coast path on your left towards Combe Martin, keeping the meadow to your right. You should now be heading up out of the valley, stay on the coast path until Step 4.

Step 4

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 walk along the coast path you'll pass Neck Wood, an isolated wood home to six different whitebeam species.

Step 5

Turn left up to the summit of Holdstone Down and take in the view then head down to the road.

Step 6

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

Step 7

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.

Step 8

At the crossroads carry on straight across. You will pass one of the best high brown fritillary sites: toward the end of June 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.

Step 9

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

Step 10

Carry straight on at this junction toward The Hunter's Inn.

Step 11

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.

Step 12

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

Step 13

(Shortcut) Turn left down the hill along the road. As you head along to Step 14 you'll pass through the best high brown fritillary site in the country.

Step 14

(Shortcut) Turn left again following the road back around to the car park and The Hunter's Inn.

End point

Heddon Valley car park, EX31 4PY

Trail map

Map of Heddon butterfly route
Map of Heddon butterfly route | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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Get in touch

Heddon Valley, Near Parracombe, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 4PY

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