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Silver-washed fritillary male butterfly in Hampshire
Silver-washed fritillary male butterfly | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

Selborne Common and The Lythe butterfly walk

Experience this nature trail at Selborne Common in Hampshire that is an absolute must for butterfly enthusiasts. Visitors can encounter a huge number of species including silver-washed fritillary, white admiral, brown argus, and purple and brown hairstreak. On The Lythe part of the trail discover a variety of butterflies, birds and meadow flowers.

Total steps: 7

Total steps: 7

Start point

Selborne car park, behind Selborne Arms, grid ref: SU742335

Step 1

From the entrance of the car park behind the Selborne Arms, follow the footpath sign to Selborne Common. Go through the footpath gate to the bottom of the Zig-Zag path, which ascends the scarp slope.

Step 2

At the top turn right, going upslope, and through the gate to Selborne Common. Inside the gate, turn immediately left to follow a broad grassy path, through a glade with ivy-covered dead trunks of beech trees truncated by the great storms of 1987 and 1990. Carry on right down this track, which has sections below towering trees and open glades. Eventually, you come to a fingerpost in the far bottom corner of the common.

Long grass and a gap in the trees at Selborne Common, Hampshire
Long grass and a gap in the trees at Selborne Common, Hampshire | © National Trust Images/Alison Marsh

Step 3

At the fingerpost, turn right. Turn quickly right again by a second fingerpost, up a broad straight track heading back up into the common.

Step 4

This track opens out onto The Green. On entering, turn left and head towards Wood Pond. Turn right and head north along the mown path, skirting the western edge of the open grassy area.

Step 5

At the path junction, where a major path joins from the right, turn left along the broad straight ride known as The Pipeline. This leads back to the gate at the top of the Zig-Zag.

Purple hairstreak male butterfly in grass in West Sussex
Purple hairstreak male butterfly in grass | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

Step 6

For The Lythe part of the trail from Selborne car park, turn left along Selborne High Street, which can be very busy. Just past Gilbert White's House and Oates Museum, cross the road and head for Selborne churchyard. Take the path that leads out from the graveyard into Church Meadow, heading for a wooden bridge across the stream.

Step 7

Cross the wooden footbridge and carry on down the track. Between the Short and Long Lythes, two steep banks of 'hanging' beech and ash woodland on your left, is a small grassy coombe on your left and a small meadow on your right. Past the iron bench, along the Long Lythe, the ground opens out on your right into a long, thin and rough meadow, developing where a poplar plantation has been removed. National Trust property ends at the field entrance beyond this linear meadow. The easiest thing to do is retrace your steps, but you can follow the public footpath across the privately-owned field towards Wick Wood, turn right at the junction with another footpath to Priory Farm, turn right again there and follow the footpath system back along the opposite side of the valley, which is around 2 miles (3km). It's advisable to have the OS map handy for this route.

End point

Selborne car park, behind Selborne Arms, grid ref: SU742335

Trail map

Selborne Common and The Lythe butterfly walk trail map
Selborne Common and The Lythe butterfly walk trail map | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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