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Duke of Burgundy butterfly at Rodbourgh Common in Gloucestershire
Duke of Burgundy butterfly at Rodbourgh Common, Gloucestershire | © National Trust / Richard Evans
Gloucestershire & the Cotswolds

Rodborough Common butterfly walk

Follow this trail through natural grassy tracks and hillsides to Swellshill for the opportunity to spot more than 30 species of butterfly. The steep grassland slopes of Rodborough Common create the perfect habitat for the Adonis blue and Duke of Burgundy butterflies, as well as many other species. Look out for rare wild flowers and enjoy far-reaching views over the Severn Estuary on the route.

Butterfly species

Rodborough Common is one of the best places in the UK to see the Duke of Burgundy butterfly. The Adonis blue butterfly has also returned after an absence of 40 years, and feeds on the great variety of wild flowers here. Other species to spot include the green hairstreak, dingy skipper, marbled white, small blue and chalkhill blue. There are more details on when to see the butterflies within each step.

Total steps: 7

Total steps: 7

Start point

National Trust car park, grid reference: SO850035

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Adonis blue male on Carline thistle, Rodborough Common, Gloucestershire
Adonis blue male | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

Step 3

Continue along the track. North of Little London, between the houses and the larch grove there's a good colony of Duke of Burgundy butterflies (best seen in mid-May).

Step 4

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

Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) with mid-green fern-like foliage and purple cup-shaped flowers, in the parterre at Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire.
Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) | © National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

Step 5

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 Parlour.

Step 6

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.

Step 7

Park here (if in your car) and walk downhill to Swellshill Bank. This is the best place to see the rarer butterflies. If on foot return back to the National Trust car park at Step 1.

End point

National Trust car park, grid ref: SO850035

Trail map

Rodborough Common butterfly walk map, Gloucestershire
Rodborough Common butterfly walk map, Gloucestershire | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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near Stroud, Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire

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We’ve partnered with Cotswold Outdoor to help everyone make the most of their time outdoors in the places we care for.

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