• Butterfly walks through Binsted

    • No bypass through Binsted!  Public Consultation Run-Up Blog no.1

      Classic butterfly walks would be destroyed

      Sunday 2 July was a little early to be looking for the Purple Emperor butterfly.   But my two American guests were leaving the next day, so I led them out into a boiling afternoon at 2 pm, the hottest part of the day, since I knew butterflies like sunny weather.

      The classic butterfly walk in Binsted starts at Binsted Church.   You go up Muddy Lane to the new Waymarker.   The footpath up to Binsted Woods, north from the Waymarker, next to Copythorn West Hedge with its 13 lovely young trees planted by Walberton Action Group in 2005, is the boundary of the South Downs National Park.   It is also on Faber Maunsell's Binsted route for the Arundel Bypass which attempts to ‘avoid’ the National Park by mostly going just outside the boundary.

      Once we approached the wood edge with its sallow bushes, we started to see the large, swooping, orange and black Silver-Washed Fritillaries.   On into the woods, and as we walked along Scotland Lane these became numerous, plunging down to feed on pale pink bramble flowers in the sunny spots along the edge of the path.   I should think we saw 20 or 30.

      I had looked up on the Internet the markings of the White Admiral, which is very like the Purple Emperor and often mistaken for it.   As we reached the footpath crossroads near Havenwood where I have seen Purple Emperors in a previous year, we started to see a black and white butterfly – I wanted it to be a Purple Emperor, but it was missing the little orange ‘eyes’ at the bottom of its wings, and was not quite the right shape or quite big or dark enough.   It was a White Admiral.   These live in the tops of oak trees like the Emperors, and are also scarce, though I’m told there is a flush of them this summer.

      We chose a different way back, along Scotland Lane to where it meets Binsted lane, and in the sunny part of Scotland Lane after it exits the woods we saw Red Admirals and other kinds of butterfly.   The whole experience was magical and those big, gaudy fritillaries are still swooping in my mind.

      If the Binsted route for the Arundel Bypass was built, Scotland Lane would at this point – where it comes out of the woods - be on an overbridge over a roaring dual carriageway.   Binsted Lane itself, near where it exits onto the A27, would be on another overbridge.   The path up from the Waymarker would disappear altogether.   The quiet, sunny, south-facing woodland edges which butterflies love would be bordered by the dual carriageway all the way through Binsted, and their habitats would be affected.    Butterflies in the UK are in sharp decline.

      Details of the route and of these overbridges are in the 2015 ‘A27 Feasibility Study’ reports, Report 3, paras 5.12-16.  

      Much, much more would be lost if this route for the Bypass was built – but these butterfly walks, where nature shows itself to you on a quiet walk in the woods, approached through wonderful countryside, would be an important loss.

      For more on White Admirals see  http://www.maves.org.uk/blog/white-admiral.

      Emma Tristram


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