Dark Green Fritillary and Brown Argus can be seen in several of the Derbyshire Dales, but Coombs Dale has advantages over the others. It is accessible, with decent free car parking and the butterflies are concentrated in a fairly constrained area.
Once there, the Dark Green Fritillaries cannot be missed, though photographing them is another matter. Brown Argus are less obvious; potentially confused with female Common Blue, so careful observation is needed, but they are numerous in Coombs Dale.
Key species: Brown Argus, Dark Green Fritillary
Timing: end of June to mid-July
Disabled access is available.
Biting insects are found on this site.
Travelling from the north and/or west, you should take the A6 through Hazel Grove and Disley. Before you reach Buxton you should turn left at a roundabout onto the A623. Follow this road for about 10 miles until you come to Stoney Middleton. Coming from the south, it may be more practical to travel through Bakewell to Baslow and then on to Calver on the A623. In that case you would arrive at the football pitch (see below) on your left just after Calver traffic lights.
- Parking SK235750
- Butterflies SK221743 to SK214739
Drive through the village, keeping to the main road until you see a football pitch on the right-hand side. Pull in here, where you can park on the hard-standing next to a dark green Portakabin. At the back of the football pitch, you will see a children's playground and a tennis court. The track into Coombs Dale runs immediately adjacent to the south side of this recreation ground. About 100 yards from the road there is a metal gate (please close it after you). After this gate are some Wych Elms, which have White-letter Hairstreaks and these occasionally will nectar on flowers beside the track. The main butterfly areas are about 1 mile down the track, starting with a semicircular area of grasses and flowers on the right and a much larger area over the little stream on the left. Given favourable weather, these areas will have good numbers of both Brown Argus and Dark Green Fritillary. The food-plants for both species (Common Rock-rose and violets) are plentiful.
Photographers, please note - this habitat is covered with delicate plants and some rare orchids - please take care not to trample the vegetation in your pursuit of butterflies.
This is an excellent spot for butterflies and on a good day you can see close to 20 species. Earlier in the season (May-June) Dingy Skippers are present. Coincident with the two key species there are both Small and Large Skippers, Common Blue, Small Copper, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Brimstone, the common Pierids and the common Vanessids. It is also good for day-flying moths, including Wood Tiger. There are several species of orchid, including Bee Orchid.