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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Birds, Butterflies and Wild Flowers. The Devil's Dyke. 04.06.22

I visited the Devil's Dyke on Saturday 4th June 2022 in the morning. I caught the 77 Brighton and Hove bus at 9.52 (runs every 45 minutes) from Churchill Square, Brighton, and returned on the 13.30 from Devil's Dyke. Typically on Saturdays I go out for whole day nature trips, but on 04.06.22 I was visiting an old fiend in the afternoon. If you want to visit the Devils Dyke by bus there are only direct buses on Saturdays and Sundays, see: 77 - Devil's Dyke-Brighton Pier | Brighton & Hove Buses. If you wanted to visit by bus in the week, you could take the 17 bus to Pycombe Garage (you have to ask the driver to set you down their specially) and walk over Newtimber Hill and Saddlescombe Farm (about a 4 mile walk), see: Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber Hill | National Trust

As I child I grew up in the Seven Dials area of Brighton and Hove, and the Devil's Dyke was just "up the road" and my parents took me there often. When I moved back to Brighton in 1991 I have largely eschewed visiting the Devil's Dyke because of the large number of visitors; however, if you walk just a little way into the dyke you are soon on your own in beautiful downland scenery.

The legend of the origin of Devil's Dyke was known to every school child in Brighton (and was described pictorially on the pub sign of the old Dyke Tavern on Dyke Road). The legend says the devil was furious at the conversion of the people of the Weald to Christianity and decided to dig a dyke through the South Downs, so the sea could flow in and drown their villages. To make sure his efforts were not discovered until it was too late, he decided to dig it over a single night. However his work woke an old woman, who lit a candle. This then woke her cockerel, who began to crow. Seeing the light and hearing the cockerel, the devil was fooled into thinking it was dawn, rushed off with his work uncompleted and the Weald was saved. Devils Dyke (

I did a circular walk focussing on the south-facing escarpment of the Dyke, as I know this is a good spot for Butterflies. The National Trust website has a good recommended Butterfly walk: Devil's Dyke butterfly walk | National Trust


There are lots of butterflies of note on this walk, including large populations of Adonis blue, chalkhill blue and green hairstreak and smaller populations of brown argus, dark-green fritillary and silver-spotted skipper. Also, large populations of six-spot burnet moths (day-flying) and all three species of day-flying forester moth. There are a variety of chalk grassland flowers too, including drifts of common rockrose and horseshoe vetch and frequent carline thistle, dropwort and downland orchids Devil's Dyke butterfly walk | National Trust

The butterflies I saw were Common Blues, Small Blues, Spotted Woods (in the woodland part of the reserve) Small Heaths, Small Tortoiseshells, Painted Ladies and a Silver-Y Moth. chalkhill blues, brown arguses, dark-green fritillaries and silver-spotted skippers flight period in July and August. For the dates when you are likely to see specific species, see: Butterfly Conservation - Sussex Branch ( or see Butterflies of Sussex. A Twenty-First Century Atlas (2017) Michael Blencowe & Neil Hulme

A view of the Devil's Dyke

Wild Thyme

Silver Y Moth, hanging on in the strong wind!

Silver Y moths are migratory and visits the UK from southern Europe in the summer

Common Blue

Common Spotted Orchid

Meadow Pippit

Meadow Grasshopper

Wild Thyme

Anther Meadow Grasshopper

Carline Thistle


More Common Spotted Orchids

Speckled Wood

Common Blue

Male Stonechat

Common Blue

Degraded Common Blue

Bird's-Foot Trefoil

Male Stonechat

Bulbous daisies

Common Blue

Female Common Blue or Adonis Blue

Another Marsh Grasshopper

Female Common Blue or Adonis Blue

Small Blue

Possibly an Adonis Blue

Small Heath

Small Tortoiseshell

Another Small Tortoiseshell - the much darker underwings

and showings its upper wings

A faded Painted Lady

A Meadow Pipit

Another Meadow Pipit

Another Small Tortoiseshell



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