Lankham Bottom

Beautiful downland coombe near Dorchester

Lankham BottomA 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.

Educational Access: To find out about opportunities for schools and other groups to visit this reserve, FREE, see our Education Services page.

Guided walks and Conservation Action Days:  See Events.

Site Details

Cattistock, north of Dorchester


Butterfly species include

  • Chalkhill Blue was here, but not recorded for several years
  • Brown Argus – May/June and July/August
  • Marsh Fritillary – May/June
  • Adonis Blue - May and Aug/Sept
  • Grizzled and Dingy Skippers – May/June 



Dingy Skippers

Dingy Skippers

Moth species

Regular moth trapping sessions in the summer have produced a good total of species characteristic of chalk downland including:

  • Wood Tiger – a dayflier in June/July
  • Cistus Forester – dayflier June/July

Wood Tiger Moth

Wood Tiger Moth. Photo: Paul Butter

Other species

Breeding birds include:

  • Stonechat
  • Meadow Pipit
  • Yellowhammer
  • Linnet
  • Lesser Whitethroat
  • Willow Warbler

Also look out for Kestrel, Hobby and Raven.


65 species have been recorded here, including 14 waxcaps, which makes the site of regional importance. Of special interest is Cortinarius roseipes,of which this is the first Dorset record. It is found on the west facing slope growing in association with Rockrose (Helianthemum), the latter being important as it is the larval food plant of the Brown Argus butterfly.


Habitat type/ features 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 Lankham Bottom


Grid Reference: ST 606004. Ordnance Survey Landranger 194 or Explorer 117

The reserve entrance is off the minor road from Cattistock to the A37 about ½ mile west of the A37 Stagg’s Folly Junction.  Access is through the metal gate but please do not block the track to the pumping station.

The reserve is designated Open Countryside – with public access on foot permitted at all times. The bridleway crossing the site is shown on OS maps.

Lankham Bottom
Owned by Leased to Butterfly Conservation by Wessex Water.