The North Wessex Downs are an officially designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB) located in the centre of southern England. The horseshoe shaped area covered by the ANOB stretches almost as far as Reading
, surrounds Newbury
and includes parts of Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. It also includes a Site of Scientific Interest (SSI). The name Wessex derives from the ancient Anglo-Saxon
kingdom that existed here before the Norman Conquest
The downs are a unique and varied landscape that includes ancient woodlands, open downland and chalk streams. The 668 square miles of the ANOB also include the Marlborough Downs. These are famous for their unspoilt sheltered valleys, as well as hills which are often crowned with beech woods. The woodlands of Chute and the Savernake Forests are all within the ANOB, as are the Thames Basin Heaths.
The downs are part of the North Downs
which stretch from Dorset
in the West to Kent
in the East, running almost parallel to the South Downs
. Walbury Hill
, just south of Hungerford
in Berkshire, is the highest point on the downs reaching 974 feet.
The ancient Ridgeway
, which is often described as Britianís oldest road, passes through the downs and is still a popular route for those wishing to visit the area.
More British Natural features?
Other Berkshire Naturals
The River Thames
Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen. - Benjamin Disraeli
On this day:
Battle of Poitiers - 1356, Great Plague of London at its Height - 1665, 'Lord Haw-Haw' sentenced to death - 1945, First Traffic Wardens in London - 1960, First Glastonbury - 1970, First Episode of Fawlty Towers - 1975, Murder of Carl Bridgewater - 1978, Southall Train Crash - 1997
More dates from British history