Broughton Down

Site feature providing more detailed description, photos and other information for the butterfly observer

Photo 1 - Looking West Along Broughton Down With Round Barrow In The Distance

Highlights

Unimproved chalk downland nature reserve managed by Hampshire Wildlife Trust

Good range of chalk downland butterflies, with resident species including Silver-spotted Skipper, Chalkhill Blue and Dark Green Fritillary.

One of few sites in Hampshire where the Adonis Blue can be found, albeit in low numbers

Site is also a designated SSSI status and is of archaeological interest with ancient droveway and round barrow

Description

Broughton Down (location mapis a fine example of unimproved chalk downland lying on north-east facing escarpment which provides fine views over the Test Valley. It is located several miles west of Stockbridge, close to the border with Wiltshire. The down is fringed by mature woodland including impressive stands of beech at its eastern end, and is bisected by a small wooded valley. Broughton Down is managed by Hampshire Wildlife Trust as a Nature Reserve and is also a designated SSSI taking into account the good range of chalk habitats represented. 

All the commoner downland species are present on the site, including Chalkhill Blue, and there are also modest colonies of  Silver-spotted Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Brown Argus and Dark Green Fritillary. There is also a small colony of Adonis Blue.

The down is most easily approached from Broughton village to the east or from the south along a long and rather bumpy track. My preference is to approach from the village, parking at the end of Buckholt Road (click here) and continuing on foot up the hill, skirting Smiths Plantation and then along the track at the top of the down. After about ~500m, bear right at a display board to enter the down via a gate (here) to the west of the wooded valley. Many species can be found on the open downland slope during their flight period, including Chalkhill Blue and a few Silver-spotted Skippers.

However, if you continue working your way westwards (photo 1 above) you will reach a gate into the most westerly section of the down which includes the round barrow known as "Plum Pudding". Beyond the round barrow there is a sheltered flower rich gully (photo 2) and a narrow "spike" of grassland pointing south. The Adonis Blues tend to be found in this western section - look in the gulley or on the "spike". However their flight period, bearing in mind this is a very small colony, can be short, perhaps as little as two weeks, so timing is critical. This western end is also one of the areas to see the fast-flying Dark Green Fritillaries. 

The gulley  mentioned above also continues northwards through a small wooded area, which then opens out into another small downland area here. The species distribution is similar to the main area of the down, however its relative isolation means their profusion can vary. This is another area where Dark Green Fritillaries can be found during their flight period.

Photo 2 - Sheltered Gulley At Extreme Western End