Rodborough Common: walking among orchids and butterflies

An airy place to stretch your legs, Rodborough Common is perched steeply over Stroud, on the edge of the Cotswolds.  Any time of the year is good for extensive views of the Severn estuary and Welsh mountains on the horizon, but spring to summer are best, as the carefully managed chalk grassland is a haven for butterflies and wild flowers.  Species include the rare but recovering Duke of Burgundy, Adonis Blue and Chalkhill Blue, while 13 types of orchids and the scarce Pasque flower flourish in the alkaline soil.  Orchids growing at the tail-end of summer are Autumn ladies tresses and the Narrow-lipped helleborine.  The abandoned limestone quarries are home to colonies of the Greater and Lesser horseshoe bat, the former particularly rare.  Rodborough Common is owned and managed by the National Trust.

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