The butterflies of Brighton and Hove – exclusive report Part 6: Whitehawk


This is part 6 of an exclusive report specially commissioned by Brighton & Hove News on the butterflies of our city and so you may wish to save all of the parts for future reference!

Silver-Spotted Skipper

Brighton and Hove Butterfly Sites – Whitehawk:

Sheepcote Valley:

Red Admiral

Overall number of butterfly species recorded on site: 30 species.
Site description: Areas of Sloping open chalk grass with pockets of scrub and woodland, set on downland on the East side of Whitehawk, Sheepcote Valley runs parallel and encompasses the full length of Wilson Avenue.
Main butterfly species to look out for: Red Admiral, Comma, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small Heath, Marbled White, Dark Green Fritillary and Silver-spotted Skipper.


Best butterfly locations and Travel Directions: The best butterfly location to see a variety of butterfly species is in the grazing compartments, which run up the eastern side of the valley. To head straight to the Northern end of the grazing compartments, walk directly across the valley via the gate directly opposite Sadler Way which is on the Western side of the site, heading east to the open grazed slope. From here the grazing compartments run southward, parallel with East Brighton Golf Course, narrowing to meet the edge of East Brighton Park by Roedean Road.

Small Tortoiseshell

Additionally the centre paddocks are ideal for seeing a group of butterfly species called ”nymphalids” this group includes Red Admiral, Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell, here they can be seen on the many buddleias when in flower. The centre paddocks are the areas located between Sadler Way and Wiston Road within the site, located North of the Brighton Caravan and Motorhome Club Site.
Whilst a localised colony of Silver-spotted Skippers can be seen during August, found adjacent to East Brighton Park. From the Car Park (some parking restrictions) by Dottie’s Cafe walk East on the cut grass path, follow the path that cuttings straight through the strip of woodland onto the open grass slope, (don’t take the path that turns left following the edge of the sports fields heading North) the Silver-spotted Skippers are within the immediate and surrounding area once you come to the other side of the trees. The Friends of Sheepcote Valley have produced a map perfectly illustrating the Pedestrian entrances,

Small Heath

Parking and Buses:

Marbled White

Useful links: & &

Dark Green Fritillary

Whitehawk Hill and Craven Wood:

Grizzled Skipper

Overall number of butterfly species recorded on site: 35 species.


Site description: Open chalk grassland and wildflower slopes with area of scrub and woodland, settles on the West side of Whitehawk following a line from Craven Wood/ Craven Vale Allotments and Whitehawk Hill Transmitting Station mast, north past the slopes beneath Brighton Racecourse up to Warren Road. Access paths across Whitehawk hill may be uneven and steeply sloping in places.

Dingy Skipper

Main butterfly species to look out for: Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Small Copper, Small Blue, Adonis Blue, Chalk Hill Blue, Brown Argus, Dark Green Fritillary, White-letter Hairstreak, Silver-washed Fritillary and Wall.

Green Hairstreak

Best butterfly locations and Directions: Best butterfly locations are below Brighton Racecourse on the chalk grassland steep slopes to the South-East, on the first plateau up the steep slope, between Whitehawk Primary School and The Crew Club building situated on the playing fields of the recreational ground, located at the northern extreme of Whitehawk Road. Late Spring and Mid-Late Summer is most productive for seeing a wide range of species. Additionally at Craven Wood, located just North of St John The Baptist Catholic Primary School at the Northern extreme of Whitehawk Hill Road, West of Craven Vale Allotments. Here you can see White-letter Hairstreaks amongst the Elm trees in July on the South Western slopes and feeding low down on Bramble, Ragwort or Creeping Thistle during the morning with additional butterflies seen in the clearings and open grassland throughout the year. Nearby at the South-West corner of Craven Vale Allotments adjacent areas to the Whitehawk Hill Transmitting Station mast might produce sightings of the Long-tailed Blue, being a migratory species your best chance to see them will be during favourable years when they travel to our coastline, later giving rise to Sussex born butterflies, look on and around Everlasting Pea, search efforts for this smaller sized butterfly should be made during August, September and October.

Small Copper

Travel Directions:
Pedestrian entrances: First plateau up the steep slope – cross the recreational ground, located at the northern extreme of Whitehawk Road, walking up the steep slope walking in the direction of Brighton Racecourse. Alternatively walk down the steep slope to the plateau using paths off Manor Hill at the southern end of Brighton Racecourse. Craven Wood and Television Transmitting Station Mast – Follow on from Whitehawk Hill Road at the Northern extreme, turning right onto grassland heading to Craven Wood or continue on the track along the edge of the allotment to the Television Transmitting Station Mast. Alternatively walk South using the grassland paths that run parallel with The Causeway/Monument View to the East, turning off Queensway from Manor Hill/Freshfield Road roundabout.

Small Blue

Parking: First plateau up the steep slope – there are parking bays at the northern extreme of Whitehawk Road by the side of the recreational ground. Craven Wood and Television Transmitting Station Mast – Park at Northern extreme of Whitehawk Hill Road or park on the left side, turning into The Causeway, here you may find more parking space.

Adonis Blue

Buses: 1, 1A, 21, and 37.
Useful links:

Chalk Hill Blue

About the author of these exclusive reports:

Jamie Burston is a local resident and Brighton based wildlife artist. His highly detailed illustrations are based on photographs that he has taken of local observations of the butterflies he encounters in Brighton and Hove and wider Sussex and thus forming the reference of his drawings and paintings. Visit Jamie’s online shop here:

Brown Argus


Thank you to the following people for providing information towards the article: Jamie Burston, Paul Gorringe, Peter Whitcomb, Geoff Stevens, Tessa Pawsey, Dan Danahar, Annabeth Horsley, Bob Foreman and Neil Hulme (who supplied the lovely photos).

Jamie Burston’s drawing of a White-Letter Hairstreak


By popular request, the previous 7 articles can be located by clicking the links below:

Butterflies of Brighton & Hove – Part 1:


Butterflies of Brighton & Hove – Part 2:


Butterflies of Brighton & Hove – Part 3:


Butterflies of Brighton & Hove – Part 4:


Butterflies of Brighton & Hove – Part 5:


Butterflies of Brighton & Hove – Part 7:


Butterflies of Brighton & Hove – Part 8:

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.