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

Special Qualities



The North Wessex Downs is a visibly ancient landscape of great beauty, diversity and size. It embraces the high, open arable sweeps of the chalk downs and dramatic scarp slopes with their prehistoric monuments and Beech knolls, the moulded dip slopes, sheltered chalk river valleys; intimate and secluded wooded areas and low-lying heaths with a rich mosaic of woodland, pasture, heath and commons. The North Wessex Downs form a surprisingly remote, expansive and tranquil landscape in the heart of southern England.

Hackpen Hill by Andrew Perrott
Hackpen Hill by Andrew Perrott

However the North Wessex Downs is not one, but several, landscapes and it is this diversity and stark contrast in some cases that gives this area its special character and distinctiveness. The special qualities include:

•    Downs Plain & Scarp
•    Downland with woodland
•    Wooded Plateau
•    High Chalk Plain
•    Vales
•    River Valleys
•    Lowland Mosaic.

The geology of the North Wessex Downs AONB underpins almost every aspect of the AONB’s character and dramatically influences the landscape which we see today. The full Landscape Character Assessment for the North Wessex Downs AONB is available to download here.

This document was among the information that we contributed to the development of Natural England's National Character Areas and has been the basis for a new online resource with interactive maps, pictures and text so you can easily access the information you need whether it is to inform decisions about development, conservation, farming, land managment or just your own interest.  See the new site here.

We support landscape scale projects in and beyond the North Wessex Downs.  We have also  helped to establish a geology club for 6-12 year olds called Rock Detectives.

Further information on the landscape of the North Wessex Downs is available in the  Management Plan and to download here :

Factsheet on Landscape types in the North Wessex Downs

Factsheet on  Geology and  the landscape