Cut-thorn Hill is a great site to find the Green Hairstreak butterfly - a somewhat overlooked species. It flies in short, rapid bursts and, when settled in foliage, is well camouflaged.

Key species: Green Hairstreak

Best time to see them: The middle of April until early May

There are several localities in Cheshire and west Derbyshire, but Cut-thorn Hill is probably the best in terms of numbers of butterflies and ease of access.

However, the path is uneven and not suitable for wheelchairs.

The southern slope of the hill is almost covered in bilberry, the food plant for Green Hairstreaks at this site.

The most straightforward way is to take the A53 (Leek road) out of Buxton and turn right onto the A54 (Macclesfield/Congleton), then when the A537 goes off to Macclesfield, fork left staying on the A54 (Congleton); see the map below. After about 2 miles on the A54 you will see a small road on the left; take this road. As the map below shows, it leads down the eastern side of Cut-thorn Hill.

Grid references

  • Parking: SK000682
  • To find Green Hairstreak: SK006681

Site 2: Cut-thorn Hill, Cheshire

About 200 yards along this road there are three usable parking places. From here you walk another 200 yards down the road then take a path on the left through a gate (please shut it properly after you if it was closed when you arrived). This path takes you round the southern border of the hill. It is an easy walk, no inclines, though the path is rough in parts. You do not need to leave the path to see Green Hairstreaks.

Site 2: Cut-thorn Hill, Cheshire

If you are interested in birds, there are Wheatears, Meadow Pipits galore, and there are Ring Ouzels in the area. Because of the numbers of Meadow Pipits, Cuckoos are regularly present. It would make a great spot for a field trip, but parking is just impossible for a group, though it is heartily recommended for individual car-loads.