North Wessex Downs AONB

North Wessex Downs AONB
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The third largest of Britain’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the North Wessex Downs spans parts of Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. The incredible local landscape has a character so distinctive, with such natural beauty, that is has been protected for the nation to enjoy. And Newbury is the perfect base from which to embrace it!

Travel back in time for around 65 million years and the chalk band this area lies at the heart of was submerged under a warm sea, home to tiny creatures which are the source of the soft rock here today. Rolling chalk hills covered in chalk grassland, chalk-loving flowers and creatures, eight chalk white horses, and internationally rare chalk streams are all features of the North Wessex Downs’ ancient landscape, as well as woodland, pasture, heath, and common land. For over 5,000 years, humans have impacted the landscape, leaving a fascinating trail of features to visit.

Some of these must-see features within the AONB include:

  1. The World Heritage site at Avebury, only 25 miles from Newbury. We LOVE the West Kennet Long Barrow here; built in around 3650BC, it is one of the most magical places in the world. Not to mention the stone circles, which are lesser known (but in our opinion more beautiful and interesting!) than the famous Stone Henge.
  2. The ancient Savernake Forest, 19 miles from Newbury to the south of nearby Marlborough. This Special Site of Scientific Interest has a history of over 1,000 years and includes one of England’s oldest trees, the Big Bellied Oak.
  3. Better known as ITV’s Downton Abbey, the magnificent Highclere Castle, just 6 miles from Newbury town centre. Rising high alongside the castle, and the location of the fifth Earl of Carnarvon’s grave, Beacon Hill is also a must-see.
  4. The Kennet & Avon Canal, which meanders through the very heart of Newbury town centre on its journey from east to west.
  5. Inkpen Beacon and Combe Gibbet, which enjoy spectacular views out across the downs.
  6. Beautiful Watership Down, the inspiration for Richard Adams’ famous novel, which can be explored as part of the Wayfarers Walk

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