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Purple Emperor butterfly
Purple Emperor butterfly | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

Bookham Common butterfly walk

This walk takes you through one of the best woods in England for sighting the elusive purple emperor butterfly. Purple emperors are Britain's second largest butterfly, with a wingspan of over 8cm. It was first recorded here on 11 June 2017, at the earliest point in more than 120 years, following balmy temperatures in the spring. The species now thrives here thanks to decades of work by National Trust rangers to protect the specialist habitats it needs.

Spot a variety of butterflies and many birds in the woodland

The purple emperor season begins in late June and peaks in the second week of July. From noon to early evening, the males can be seen at the Mark Oak and Hill Farm 'master trees'. By August the butterflies are mostly gone.

Total steps: 7

Total steps: 7

Start point

Tunnel Car Park, grid ref: TQ130557

Step 1

Leave the car park and take the left-hand path, heading north-west.

Step 2

Follow the main path (Common Road) past some houses on the left.

Step 3

Turn right take the right-hand path that leads past the lakes.

Step 4

Turn left before the wood edge and go up Broadway. This leads to the Mark Oak 'master tree' on the left, just before the ride junction at the top. Purple emperors fly around the tall turkey oaks here but can be difficult to spot.

Step 5

Turn left and westwards to follow High Point Path.

Step 6

Continue to Hill Farm and pause the second 'master tree' (a hornbeam), located on the north side of the path, just south of the farm. When you're ready, continue down the path until you come to a small car park. Go through it and turn left down a path joining the road at an angle.

Step 7

Continue straight until you come to the houses that you passed at Step 2. Retrace your path to the car park and station.

End point

Near Bookham station, grid ref: TQ130565

Trail map

Map of Bookham Common butterfly walk, Surrey
Bookham Common butterfly walk, Surrey | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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Woman bending down to help with stick held by small boy in woodlands

Bookham Commons activity trail 

Explore Bookham Commons with this easy stroll through the woods

DistanceMiles: 2.5 (km: 4) to miles: 3 (km: 4.8)

Get in touch

Church Road, Great Bookham, Surrey, Nearest postcode KT23 3LT

Our partners

Cotswold Outdoor

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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