Thirty years ago Wall Brown was a common butterfly in many parts of our region; sadly it is now scarce, with only one really reliable site in Cheshire. The butterfly is double-brooded, with the first brood on the wing in May and the second in August.
Longstone Edge in the Peak District is perhaps the closest reliable site and the August second brood perhaps offers the best chance of seeing the butterfly on the wing.
Key species: Wall Brown
Best time to see them: May and again in mid-August
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 7 miles, passing through Peak Forest, then look out for a right turn onto the B6465 (Castlegate Lane), signposted to Wardlow and Monsal Head. Follow this road through Wardlow until you come to Monsal Head, where you turn left onto an unclassified road (Butts Road) to Little and Great Longstone.
If you come from Buxton or Bakewell to the south, you take the A6 in the appropriate direction as far as Ashford in the Water, then take the A6020 and then the B6465 going north to arrive at Monsal Head, then turn right on Butts Road towards Little Longstone (see above).
- SK196728 to SK205731
Drive through Little Longstone, which comprises a few houses and The Packhorse Inn, until you come to a T-junction. Take the left turn (the right goes into Great Longstone) and drive uphill on a single-track road (Moor Road), going round a right-hand bend near the top of the hill. You cross a cattle grid and this marks the start of the area of interest for butterflies. There is room for a couple of cars to park just after the cattle grid, with more parking about 150 yards further on. The Edge is on your left and you need to climb up the slope as far as the rock face and then search along the escarpment. The western end (closest to the cattle grid) is probably best for Wall Brown, but they can be seen all along the escarpment as far as the left-hand bend (see map). The males will patrol along the ridge (presumably) looking for females.
This is a good spot for butterflies. In May you may see Green Hairstreak and Dingy Skipper. In late May into June, there will be Common Blue, Small Copper, Brown Argus and, in July, Dark Green Fritillary. Both Large and Small Skippers are present in season. In August, with the second brood of Wall Brown, there are small numbers of second brood Common Blue. The common Vanessids can be seen all summer. The views to the south are stunning.