Saturday, August 8, 2009

Scotch Argus Butterflies South of the Border




Smardale Gill National Nature Reserve, between the village of Ravenstonedale and market town of Kirby Stephen in Cumbria, is one of my favourite reserves, not least because it’s one of only two locations in England where you can see the Scotch argus butterfly. There were scores of them on the wing when we visited earlier this week – some newly emerged, others looking a little weather-beaten. Fresh specimens, which are the colour of dark chocolate, have a lovely velvety texture. The top photo shows the view northwards, towards the old railway viaduct that crosses the valley and now carries a footpath through the wooded part of the reserve. The bottom photograph shows the view to the south, with the packhorse bridge over Scandal Beck and the Howgills in the distance. Between the two lies a steep-sided valley with limestone grassland and a superb flora, that includes fragrant orchids, rock-rose and Jacob's ladder. The reserve is managed by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust and you can read more about it at http://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=72&Itemid=80

4 comments:

  1. Beautiful butterfly Phil; but those views are stunning. I think I could spend hours there!

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  2. Everything about his reserve looks appealing, Phil. I would love to see a Scotch Argus and the other butterflies there. I think I would need to book a B&B nearby though as it seems a long way away. As it's a national nature reserve, can anyone visit or do you have to be a Cumbria or other WLT member?

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  3. Hi Keith,it's a lovely spot. I try to go at least once a year, but it's hard to decide on the best time - early July is too early for the butterflies but perfect for the orchids.

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  4. Hello Emma, yes, it's a NNR so open to all - the coast-to-coast footpath runs through it too. There are more details at http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/designatedareas/nnr/1007015.aspx

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