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Coordinates: 51°10′19″N 1°49′30″W / 51.172°N 1.825°W / 51.172; -1.825

North Wessex Downs

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

This is a typical view of the chalk North Wessex Downs
North Wessex Downs
in the north west part of Hampshire

Country England

Counties Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire

Highest point

 - location Walbury Hill

 - elevation 297 m (974 ft)

Location of the North Wessex Downs
North Wessex Downs
AONB in the UK

The North Wessex Downs
North Wessex Downs
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
(AONB) (also known as the Chalkenwolds) is located in the English counties of West Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire
and Wiltshire. The name North Wessex Downs is not a traditional one, the area covered being better known by various overlapping local names, including the Berkshire
Berkshire
Downs, the North Hampshire
Hampshire
Downs, the White Horse Hills, the Lambourn
Lambourn
Downs, the Marlborough Downs, the Vale of Pewsey
Vale of Pewsey
and Savernake Forest.

Contents

1 Topography 2 Geology
Geology
and natural history 3 Economy 4 Literature 5 AONB Council of Partners 6 External links

Topography[edit] The AONB covers an area of some 1,730 km2 (670 sq mi). It takes the form of a horseshoe on its side, with the open end facing east, surrounding the town of Newbury and the River Kennet
River Kennet
watershed. The northern arm reaches as far east as the suburbs of Reading in mid- Berkshire
Berkshire
and as far north as Didcot
Didcot
in South Oxfordshire, whilst the southern arm similarly reaches Basingstoke
Basingstoke
in northern Hampshire. The western extreme of the AONB reaches as far as Calne
Calne
and Devizes. The highest points are the 297 m (974 ft) summit of Walbury Hill, situated southeast of Hungerford
Hungerford
in West Berkshire
Berkshire
(and the highest point in southern England
England
east of the Mendip Hills), and the Milk Hill-Tan Hill plateau northeast of Devizes
Devizes
in central Wiltshire, at 295 m (968 ft) above sea level.

The South Western Slopes of Walbury Hill

At its northeast extreme, Lardon Chase
Lardon Chase
within the North Wessex Downs AONB faces across the Goring Gap
Goring Gap
to the Chilterns AONB
Chilterns AONB
on the other side of the River Thames. From here working anti-clockwise around the horseshoe, the Berkshire
Berkshire
Downs have a steep scarp slope facing north over the Vale of White Horse
Vale of White Horse
and a gentler dip slope facing south into the valley of the Kennet. This area includes the horse-racing village of Lambourn
Lambourn
and is hence sometimes known as the Lambourn
Lambourn
Downs. Beyond the town of Marlborough the downs (now called the Marlborough Downs) sweep in a semicircle to the south around the headwaters of the River Kennet, with the Vale of Pewsey
Vale of Pewsey
cutting through these downs carrying the headwaters of the Hampshire
Hampshire
River Avon. Here too can be found the wooded area of Savernake Forest. Finally, the highest stretch of the Downs runs east along the Berkshire- Hampshire
Hampshire
border on the opposite side of the River Kennet
River Kennet
from the Berkshire
Berkshire
Downs. Again the scarp slope is to the north (facing down in the valley of the Kennet) and the dip slope is to the south into Hampshire. Geology
Geology
and natural history[edit]

Uffington White Horse
Uffington White Horse
and Dragon Hill

The downland is part of the Southern England
England
Chalk Formation which runs from Dorset
Dorset
in the west to Kent
Kent
in the east and also includes the Dorset
Dorset
Downs, Purbeck Hills, Cranborne Chase, Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Downs, Salisbury Plain, the Isle of Wight, Chiltern Hills
Chiltern Hills
and the North and South Downs. The area is a site of scientific interest in numerous fields and has an internationally important habitat for early gentian. Geologically, its chalk downs, dry valleys and sarsen outcrops are of note, the last in the area around Marlborough providing material for many of the Neolithic
Neolithic
and Bronze Age
Bronze Age
sites in the area such as Avebury Henge. Economy[edit] Horse racing
Horse racing
forms a major industry in the area, largely because of the good quality turf that comes with the chalk underlay, and much of upland area is made over to gallops and other training areas. Several of the upland villages, and especially the large village of Lambourn, are home to major racing stables. Other villages with strong horse racing connections include Beckhampton, Kingsclere
Kingsclere
and West Ilsley. The term steeplechase originated in this area,[citation needed] a steeplechase originally being a race between two villages, navigated by reference to the church steeples visible across the rolling downs. Literature[edit]

Watership Down, taken from the north-east

On the south-east arm of the AONB can be found Watership Down
Watership Down
where the book Watership Down
Watership Down
by Richard Adams
Richard Adams
is set, to the north of the small market town of Whitchurch, Hampshire. Significant parts of Jude the Obscure
Jude the Obscure
by Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy
are set on and in the villages connected to the Berkshire
Berkshire
Downs. AONB Council of Partners[edit] The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
was designated in 1972. It is currently managed by a Council of Partners whose members are:

Local Authorities: Basingstoke
Basingstoke
and Deane Borough Council, Hampshire County Council, Vale of White Horse
Vale of White Horse
District Council, West Berkshire Council, Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Council, Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire
County Council, South Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire
District Council, Swindon Borough Council
Swindon Borough Council
and Test Valley Borough Council Representing the interests of nature conservation: Natural England, Hampshire
Hampshire
and Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
Wildlife Trust and Action for the River Kennet Representing the interests of historic environment:Council for British Archaeology and English Heritage Representing the interests of farming and rural business: Axis Farming, Country Land and Business Association, Forestry Commission, Government Office for the South East
Government Office for the South East
and the National Farmers' Union Representing the interests of community and parish: Community Council for Berkshire, the Friends of Pang, Kennet and Lambourn
Lambourn
Valleys and Hungerford
Hungerford
Town Council Representing the interests of recreation and rural tourism: Friends of the Ridgeway and the Ramblers' Association.

External links[edit]

North Wessex Downs
North Wessex Downs
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Website

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Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England

East of England

Chilterns Dedham Vale Norfolk Coast Suffolk Coast and Heaths

East Midlands

Lincolnshire Wolds

North East

Northumberland Coast North Pennines

North West

Arnside and Silverdale Forest of Bowland North Pennines Solway Coast

South East

Chichester Harbour Chilterns Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase
and West Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Downs High Weald Isle of Wight Kent
Kent
Downs North Wessex Downs Surrey Hills

Former: East Hampshire1 South Hampshire
Hampshire
Coast2 Sussex Downs1

South West

Blackdown Hills Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase
and West Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Downs Cornwall Cotswolds Dorset East Devon Isles of Scilly Mendip Hills North Devon Coast North Wessex Downs Quantock Hills South Devon Tamar Valley Wye Valley3

West Midlands

Cannock Chase Cotswolds Malvern Hills Shropshire Hills Wye Valley3

Yorkshire and Humber

Forest of Bowland Howardian Hills Nidderdale

1 Now part of South Downs
South Downs
National Park • 2 Now part of New Forest National Park • 3 Partly in Wales

Authority control

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