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 Britian’s 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
What happens in the heart simply happens. - Ted Hughes
On this day:
Great London Tornado - 1091, Battle of Fornham - 1173, Battle of Neville Cross - 1346, Regicides Executed - 1660, London Beer Flood - 1814, 1st Professional Golf Tournament - 1860, First Motoring Offences in Britain - 1895, First Full-Scale British Air-raid - 1917, World’s First Fully Commercial Nuclear Power Plant Opened - 1956, Hatfield Rail Crash - 2000
More dates from British history