View of the side of a valley with grassy slopes

Lankham Bottom. Photo: John Davis

A beautiful downland coombe on the west of the chalk ridge six miles north of Dorchester, with sweeping views over Cattistock towards Eggardon Hill and the coast.

The site is leased to Butterfly Conservation by Wessex Water who have a pumping station and boreholes here, and is managed with a small suckler herd of cattle with calves. The grassland has been protected from agricultural improvement, so the chalk sward is flower rich and very varied, and supports over 30 species of butterflies. Several years of light grazing have brought about a considerable improvement in the floral richness of the grassland and with it an increase in the numbers of certain butterfly species, notably the threatened Marsh Fritillary. As on many downland sites, the main management targets here involve reducing and containing the blocks of gorse and other scrub, and controlling unwanted weed species like Ragwort and Creeping Thistle.

Educational Access: To find out about opportunities for schools and other groups to visit this reserve for free, see our Education Services page. See our Events pages for guided walks and Conservation Action Days.

Habitat and features

Downland grassland, chalk sward

What to see


Find the best Dorset sites for individual butterflies on our Species profile pages.


Wood Tiger, Cistus Forester

Download full moth list for this site.

Other species

Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Kestrel, Hobby, Raven

Photo gallery

TIP: Click thumbnails to view full-size images.


Wessex Water

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