North Wessex Downs AONB, Units 3-4, Denford Manor, Lower Denford, Hungerford, RG17 0UN
01488 685 440



Projects 2011 - 2012

The links below will take you to the project item on this page:

Aldworth Community Plan

The Aldworth Community Plan was published in 2011, with a £500 grant from the Sustainable Development Fund. The Community Plan is a plan for the future direction of the village. Creating a plan gives West Berks council an idea of how the community want the village developed and what facilities may be required, and provides everyone with a picture of what the villagers want.

A completed Community plan makes it much easier to get grants for village projects and gives the village more of a voice with West Berks council.

To gauge the opinions of the village and to see what should go into the plan a questionnaire was drawn up and distributed to everyone over the age of 18.

50% of residents responded and the results were analysed and presented at a public meeting. The full results can be viewed by clicking below.

The Community Plan can be downloaded from the West Berkshire Council website.

Around Three Valleys book

Around the Three Valleys is the latest book from the Friends of the Pang, Kennet and Lambourn Valleys (now Berkshire Countryside Society) and The Berkshire Geoconservation Group, beautifully illustrated by Dorcus Ward.

Seventeen chapters detail sixteen walks in the area with an historical, archaeological and geological perspective on the area in question. Further pages look at the geology of the whole area.

The walks have detailed information concerning wildlife, archaeology, history and geology with numerous photographs of points and features along the way. The book delves deeply into the landscape providing a combined view of all aspects that make up that landscape. In this way the walker or reader gains a much greater understanding of the countryside around them.

The book can be purchased from the Berkshire Countryside Society.

BeWILD Legacy Report

BeWild Legacy Report

The BeWILD Project was established as a result of the need to carry out more management in Berkshire’s ancient woodlands, the need to encourage sustainable management of these woodlands, and the criteria of Natural England’s Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Action Fund 2008-2011.

The outcomes were designed to ensure management work took place in woodlands; that the woodlands were not viewed in isolation and that local volunteers and woodland owners and managers were inspired to get involved.

This BeWILD Legacy Report draws together the successes, achievements, experiences, lessons learned, problems, limitations and the issues raised during the Project. It provides detailed information on the woodlands surveyed, advice given, delivery of management plans, woodland management work and habitat improvements carried out, training provided, role of volunteers and community groups, economic viability of woodland management, woodland management for woodfuel, and the development and promotion of woodfuel and other timber products, which all formed part of the BeWILD Project.

The BeWILD Legacy Report discusses how the BeWILD Project addressed the issues encountered, highlights best practice and provides support for further (ancient) woodland management, woodfuel and woodland biodiversity projects in the area.

Blewbury Downland Project

This project is concerned with the preservation and improvement of diminishing remnants of chalk grassland in and near the village of Blewbury.

Chalk Pit and Lane is an old chalk quarry to the south of the village with an ancient hollow way leading to it from the village. The quarry and the lane contain a mosaic of habitats including lowland calcareous grassland, rank grassland, scrub and wooded areas. The Blewbury Parish Council has sole responsibility for this land and they support the ideas discussed here. The proposal to create a new LWS was accepted on 3 March 2011 by BBOWT following a study in October 2010.

Tickers Folly Field is an area of about two and a half hectares of grass linked to the Chalk Pit by the Lane, owned by the village and, until this year, mown short throughout the summer months. The wish is to return part of the area to a natural grassland state forming a wild flower meadow to be enjoyed near a new play area on the same field. Preparatory work, involving the propagation of indicator species from wild seed, has shown that the ground appears to be very suitable.

The group have provided training for volunteers and successful workdays to clear scrub. It is hoped to re-introduce grazing to areas of the two sites.

For further information visit the Sustainable Blewbury website.

Bus Walks Promotion

This project conducted a series of walks to promote the Bus Walks series of leaflets published previously. Walks were held in cooperation with local Ramblers groups and other walking initiatives.

The ten easy routes can be reached by bus from the Swindon and North East Wiltshire area and take in some of the most spectacular landscapes in the AONB. The series was researched and written by volunteer coordinator, Sue Cassell and include the following routes:

The walks leaflets are on sale at Swindon Visitor Centre (Central Library) priced at £3.50 for the set of ten. The proceeds from sales of the Bus Walks will go towards the costs of future re-printing and to developing the next phase of the Bus Walks project.

The full set of walks can be downloaded from our Walks section.

Chalk Links Project

Much of the North Wessex Downs is underlain by Chalk. Chalk is a soft white limestone traversed by layers of flint. It consists of minute calcareous shells and shell fragments which are the remains of plankton which floated in clear, sub-tropical seas covering most of Britain during the Upper Cretaceous, between 95 and 65 million years ago.

Geology groups across the region have produced a series of fact sheets explaining how the underlying chalk affects other characteristic features of this unique area including landscape, soils, land use, industry, hydrology & archaeology.

Visit our Publications section for PDF versions of these resources. The factsheets can be reproduced and used for free by AONB partners, educational establishments and local not for profit groups.

If you would like higher resolution copies, or to link these factsheets from other websites please contact the AONB office by telephone; 01488685440 or email;


Controlling the Oak Processionary Moth (OPM)

Oak Processionary Moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) was discovered in the Pang Valley in 2010. OPM is a forest pest and public health risk endemic to continental Europe and is a Statutory Pest under the Plant Health (Forestry) Order 2005 (UK). It was first found in the UK in 2006 and since then has been the subject of an ongoing eradication and control programme.

OPM poses health risk to humans due to microscopic hairs on the caterpillars that cause skin rashes and respiratory problems. The caterpillars can also cause serious defoliation of oak trees, their principal host. Although the trees will recover and leaf the following year, it has commercial forestry and landscape implications for the AONB.

A grant from the Sustainable Development Fund contributed to a significant programme of identification and treatment during 2011-12. We are pleased that the latest figures point to a real and considerable reduction in the level of OPM population.

For further details visit the Forestry Commission website, or if you think you have seen OPM in the Pangbourne area, please contact Forest Research - 01420 22255

You must not attempt to handle the larvae caterpillars yourself, or disturb their nests.

Directory Services for the Marlborough Area

The aim of the project is to develop a central web based resource for information about the Marlborough Area that is managed and evolved by the community itself .

It is hoped that this will help to deliver the aims of the Marlborough area plan by supporting local business, enabling broad awareness of the wide range of local groups/societies, other local facilities, and encouraging local tourism. Individual ?Directories will be developed under various topics such as: Local Businesses; Local Groups & Societies; Visitor Attractions; Places to Stay; Places to Eat; Meeting Facilities and so on.

To see the Directory in action, visit the Marlborough Area Community System website.

East Woodhay Walks Leaflet

The parish of East Woodhay in the North West corner of Hampshire comprises the village of Woolton Hill and the hamlets of Ball Hill, East End, East Woodhay, Gore End, Hatt Common, Heath End, Hollington and North End.

Produced by volunteers from the East Woodhay Parish Council, a leaflet of three walks will provide an introduction to the parish and encourage visitors to venture further afield and explore more of the landscape.

The leaflet can be downloaded from our walks page.





Field to Fork

Field to Fork (F2F) in partnership with Hampshire Country Learning aims to provide children from urban areas surrounding the North Wessex Downs AONB with information regarding the proccesses involved in food production. Schools will receive assistance with visiting a working farm, constructing a vegetable garden in their grounds and teaching basic cookery skills. This will help pupils to explore issues around farming, food production and health.

The project aims to encourage more schoolchildren and the school community to interact with the natural environment of the North Wessex Downs to improve their understanding of local produce, sustainability and enhanced well-being. Through encouraging children and adults to enjoy their local countryside and the food that it produces the project is helping to build links between urban communities and those living or working in the North Wessex Downs.

Field to Fork also helps raise awareness, understanding and appreciation of the unique qualities and sensitivities of the North Wessex Downs among the general public and the school communities associated with the project. Interpret and celebrate to a wide audience the natural and cultural wealth of the North Wessex Downs, particularly the role of food production and land management in shaping and conserving the landscape.

For further information, please visit the Country Learning section. This project was recognised by CPRE Hampshire as winner of a Countryside Award in 2012.

Five a Day

Five A Day Market Garden is a not for profit community group working with people from 4 years old, up to people in their 80?s and hosting activities to groups including older people, adults with learning disabilities and children, grant aid and hosting team building days to businesses.

Five A Day Market Garden is a community supported and volunteer led project. Its key objectives are:

A £1390 SDF grant helped four existing volunteers to attain formal qualifications in sustainable horticulture, conservation and teaching and cascade to the wider community. They also hosted an open day during the autumn of 2011 to over 100 people to promote:

For further information please visit the Five a Day website.

Friends of the Railway Path

Friends of the Railway Path has been recently constituted to get local people involved in supporting and maintaining the cycle path from Coate Water to Marlborough. An SDF grant helped the group to undertake 12 months of promotional activity and volunteer workdays. The Friends group involves a wide variety of local people, particularly path users such as cyclists, walkers and horse-riders.

The grant was used to;

The North Wessex Downs AONB continues to support this project as a member of the FoRP steering group. For further information please visit the Friends of the Railway Path website

Fyfield and West Overton Landscape Assessment

A grant was awarded to help the Fyfield and West Overton Landscape Group to publish a study of their parish in landscape terms. Geographically, the parishes of Fyfield and West Overton are unique within the Marlborough Community Area: they contain four different landscape character areas - Kennet Valley, Marlborough Downs, Horton Downs and the Savernake Plateau.

After the success of producing one of the first Village Design Statements, in 2002 a group of local interested people, mainly associated with the Fyfield & West Overton Parish Council, formed a "Landscape Group" with the objective of informing themselves, and subsequently the local community, about the unique features and heritage of the local landscape, and to record what they found.

Initially walks were organized throughout the area, notes of interest taken together with photographs recording important features of the landscape. A plan was developed to educate the local population by writing a number of specific subject articles about the local landscape and publishing them in the local Parish Magazine "The Upper Kennet News". Some examples of subjects chosen are; The Dry Valleys, The Sarson Stone Industry, Westwoods, Changing Birdlife, Changes in Farming - some 18 specific subjects, plus more general articles, were written over a two year period, 2005-6. These can still be accessed on the Upper Kennet News website under "Heritage" at

The report was distributed locally as well as sold to benefit a range of local projects. The full report can be downloaded from our Publications page.

North Wessex Downs Environmental Skills Audit

TCV (previously British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) is working with the North Wessex Down AONB to carry out a training needs assessment for an Environmental Training Programme across the AONB. This Study involves an audit of the skills that would are required to carry out practical and voluntary action to enhance the Landscape, the Landscape Heritage, the Rights of Way, and the Tourism potential within the AONB.

We have consulted with local landowners, community groups, and heritage and landscape management organisations within the AONB to find out from them what work, and hence what skills, are required to enable these enhancements to be carried out within the AONB.

This study is a stepping stone to start to link people with place within and around the North Wessex Downs AONB. There is already a wealth of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm from people within the AONB who want to take action to improve the area in terms of natural beauty, diversity, heritage, access and sustainable tourism.

The full study can be downloaded from our publications page.

Pewsey Allotments

Allotment holders in Pewsey received a grant to help secure a water supply to the site. It is the final stage in a process to reinstate allotments in Pewsey, started in 2006.

With a growing public interest in healthy living and low impact food, the Parish Council has recently seen an increasing interest in the 62 plots it holds at Easterton Lane.

Any increase in home grown production for the tenants and their immediate families will further reduce the food miles and waste landfill costs (of supermarket plastic packaging etc). Many are able to reduce their water use, which is metered by rain capture in water butts from their sheds.




Preshute Ecoschools Project

An eco-council of pupils from the school, led by teacher Kelandie Ash put together an environmental management plan, looking at issues such as energy use, playground tidiness and sustainable transport. The pupils then helped to raise awareness throughout the school by designing posters and displays to help meet their targets. They were awarded Ecoschool ‘Bronze’ status in July 2011.

Celia Hicks, Head of Preshute said; “We are really pleased that the pupils have been able to contribute to creating a more sustainable future. The eco-council has learned a great deal from the process that we hope they can now pass on to others“.

Preshute used the plan to secure assistance from the North Wessex Downs AONB Sustainable Development Fund and Wiltshire Council to purchase composting bins for their nature garden and install bike racks to encourage more pupils to cycle.

The Mayor of Marlborough, Alexander Kirk-Wilson, himself a keen cyclist officially unveiled the improvements.

Rock Detectives

North Wessex Downs AONB Rock Detectives is a children’s geology club for 6-12 year olds, with the emphasis on fun and discovery. The idea was developed in the North Pennines AONB for several years and a partnership between the North Wessex Downs AONB and geology groups from Wiltshire Berkshire and Oxfordshire have established it here. As well as providing exciting educational opportunities for children, they also create an ideal environment for family learning, as many parents stay for the activities and can join in the fun.

Initially the project had three focus areas in Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Berkshire with each geology group hosting its own events. These were promoted through the AONB and other literature.The aim is have a mix of indoor an outdoor events, including fossil cast making, model making and other activities as appropriate.

Further events are in development – for more information please contact the Berkshire Geoconservation Group.

Scything Without Effort and Tears (SWEAT)

SWEAT is the brainchild of Clive Leeke in collaboration with the North Wessex AONB to promote the use of Austrian Scythes as an alternative to mowers and strimmers particularly on sites managed by volunteers. Clive, a local hedgelayer, was awarded a grant to promote the use of Austrian scythes by running training courses in their operation and maintenance. Target audiences included district and parish councils, churchyards, private estates, volunteer groups, community orchards, allotment holders and green gyms.

The Austrian scythe is an ergonomically-designed, light-weight, efficient tool, but requires training in its use and maintenance for maximum efficiency. Courses are being run in collaboration with conservation organisations and partners of the North Wessex Downs AONB.

For further details please visit the SWEAT website.


Solar Energy Planning Workshop

With the co-operation of Wiltshire Council and the North Wessex Downs AONB Management Team, CPRE provided a programme to lead to better-informed, sensitive, and sustainable decisions on planning applications for PV installations in the villages, towns, and countryside of the AONB.

The project was not designed to present a case for or against any type of installation or planning application, but to provide a common store of factual information about the types of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal equipment currently available, and the possibilities for integrating them sensitively into landscape and townscape.

Participants attended site visits including the The National Self-Build & Renovation Centre near Swindon, and a large scale solar photovoltaic installation. Questions addressed included;

By providing this common store of information, we hope to encourage well-balanced and consistent judgements on developments proposed throughout the area.

For further information please visit the Development section of this website.

Streatley Allotments

The Streatley Allotment project was awarded £3,000. The central objective of the project is to provide for the use of land adjacent to Streatley water treatments works for allotments. This is land where there is a history of usage as allotments and where there are currently six in use.

Initially the land was cleared and ground prepared with installation of perimeter fencing and provision of water supply. The group hope to grow usage to 30 plot holders and in the longer term to 30-50. There is interest from local schools, the medical general practice and local environmental and social organisations and many local residents.

The creation of allotments supports current good practice for achieving sustainability in the North Wessex Downs. The plots will support locally grown fresh organic food and will be developed in sympathy with the local environment.

The allotments will bring economic benefit to the local users as their food bills will be reduced and food miles incurred in food production virtually zero. There will also be benefits through learning and sharing among the community members and greater community interdependence.

The project will raise awareness of how gardening contributes to a healthier outdoor lifestyle and the environment.

Visit the Streatley Parish Council webpage for further information

Streatley Meadow

Streatley Meadow is a 9 acre area of Berkshire chalk grassland purchased by the village as a conservation project.

The intent is to make the fields accessible to the village (residents and tourists) to enjoy - disabled and pushchair friendly gates. Also to fence the area so that it is once again able to graze cattle and sheep to enhance the growth of wildflowers. Grazing is a recognised conservation management process for such rare meadow environments. Part of the meadow has a flint wall (over 300 years old) which has collapsed due to the field 'moving' and in effect using the wall as a retaining wall.

A grant of £2,500 awarded to the Heart of Streatley Charitable Trust contributed to preservation of the wall and fencing works.

For further details please visit the Streatley Parish Council website or visit the Heart of Streatley facebook page.

Weather Station and Webcam Project

Due to its valley location Aldbourne generates its own micro-climate. Local conditions often do not match forecasts from nearby weather stations. This project was awarded a grant to install weather monitoring equipment at the village school for local use and education.

The equipment will allow both children and adults to analyse and understand local climate conditions, to study trends in the weather record and to extrapolate possible changes in the future. It will also help form an understanding between the weather and the landscape (for instance when various crops are sown, and later ready for harvesting). As a resource within school it will have an important part to play in the science curriculum, and the use of traditional devices alongside the electronic equipment will enable the children to study the weather both inside and outside the classroom.

The other half of the project involves the webcams. These will be fitted close to habitats such as nesting boxes, and some will be fitted externally on buildings. The latter are intended to give a general overview of human life in the village. The project aims to overcome a common misconception that rural life is sleepy!

The wildlife webcams will enable everyone in the village to see local wildlife up close, in colour and in detail. This equipment will also have an educational use, as the information provided can help form logs and surveys of local animal and bird populations, particularly so if the webcams are moved occasionally. This could assist greatly in the compilation of a Parish Wildlife Map.

For further information visit the Aldbourne Parish Council, or Aldbourne Website Group websites.