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6 of the best butterfly walks in Sussex

PUBLISHED: 15:12 21 August 2015 | UPDATED: 15:12 21 August 2015

Marbled white - © David Plummer/Sussex Wildlife Trust

Marbled white - © David Plummer/Sussex Wildlife Trust

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Hazel Sillver suggests six of the most beautiful walks around Sussex to spot butterflies this month

Lullington Heath, near Eastbourne

This secluded nature reserve high on the downland between Jevington and Litlington, and close to the Long Man of Wilmington, is a butterfly playground. The chalk heathland here is abloom with nectar-rich flowers that lure 34 different species, including the Silver-spotted Skipper, the beautiful Adonis Blue, the Chalk Hill Blue and the Red Admiral. There are many lovely walks here, including circular routes from Litlington and Jevington villages, which both have tea gardens and pubs!

For more information on the reserve, go to naturalengland.org.uk

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Devil’s Dyke and Newtimber Hill, near Hove

Devil’s Dyke is a beautiful dry valley in the downland above Hove; after enjoying it, follow the South Downs Way east, crossing Saddlescombe Road and heading left through the gate and up onto Newtimber Hill. Both are great places to spot butterflies, such as the stunning Adonis Blue, which is small (3cm), and most readily seen in May, June, August and September. It has a vivid, iridescent azure body and wings, which are rimmed white. You should also catch sight of the Chalk Hill Blue, which is a similar size (3cm) and has an azure body and pale blue wings that are rimmed brown and white; if you’re very lucky, you might spot Chalk Hill Blues fluttering en masse close to the ground in the August sun. Keep your eyes peeled too for the Brown Argus, Silver-spotted Skipper and the Six-spot Burnet, a black moth with scarlet spots that flies during the day.

There are mapped out butterfly walks on the National Trust website: nationaltrust.org.uk/devils-dyke

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Malling Down, Lewes

The chalk hills of this 195-acre nature reserve are easy to see from Lewes town centre and easy to walk to on foot. Once there, you will be treated to secluded downland that has far-reaching views and, in summer, is abloom with wild flowers and butterflies feeding upon them. During July and August, around 18 different species fly on this stretch of downland, which is managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust; look out for the Chalk Hill Blue, the Painted Lady, the Marbled White (white with black markings) and the beautiful yellow Brimstone (which flies in late summer, as well as spring). If you fancy a long walk, you can enjoy a circular hike that takes in the downland above Glynde, including Mount Caburn.

For more information, go to sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk

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Abbots Wood, near Hailsham

This ancient mixed woodland near Michelham Priory is a fantastic place to spot butterflies and moths. In August you will be sure to see woodland species, such as the Silver-washed Fritillary (which has a 6cm wingspan and is orange with brown-black markings) and the White Admiral (a black butterfly with white streaks, which is also 6cm across); if you’re lucky, you could also catch sight of the gorgeous Purple Hairstreak, which is small (3cm) and has black-brown wings with purple markings. With a picnic and barbecue area, loos and way-marked walking trails, this is a great place to bring the family.

For more information, go to forestry.gov.uk/forestry/EnglandEastSussexAbbotsWood

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Iping and Stedham Commons, near Midhurst

These heathlands in West Sussex, which are managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust, have a rugged beauty. Just two miles west of Midhurst, butterflies flit amongst the bell heather, pine trees, moor grass and birch in this flat expanse. In June, July and August, you will be treated to the sight of myriad Silver-studded Blues, which are more lavender-blue in colour than the bold azure Adonis Blues, but like the Adonis have white-rimmed wings. Look out also for the Green-veined White (a white butterfly with a black body and sparse black markings), the Clouded Buff (a yellow moth with pink markings that is sometime seen by day) and the Large Skipper (an orange and brown butterfly, which looks a little like a moth).

For more information on the commons, go to sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk

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Cissbury Ring, near Worthing

This ancient hill fort atop the Downs overlooks the coast and encompasses 65 acres. Centuries of grazing have resulted in a plethora of wild flowers and it’s a fabulous place to spot butterflies. Keep your eyes peeled for the Adonis Blue, Chalk Hill Blue, the Dark Green Fritillary and the Marbled White. Excitingly, the stunning rare Swallowtail butterfly (which has 8cm cream and black wings) has been seen here and at Chanctonbury Ring in early summer.

There is a mapped out 3-mile (4.8km) butterfly walk on the National Trust website: nationaltrust.org.uk/cissbury-ring

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For more information on the butterflies of Sussex and the best places to spot them, and to find out about local butterfly events, go to sussex-butterflies.org.uk and sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk

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