Celebrating 50 years as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The North Wessex Downs became a protected landscape in 1972 – protected by law for the nation.  But for hundreds of years its natural beauty has inspired poets and painters, writers and wanderers.  We hope to inspire you with our selection of fifty things that are not-to-be-missed: places, experiences and wildlife which we think deserve a special mention.

Thank you to everybody who contributed to the selection process – particularly to members of the Council of Partners for their input.  Not everything made the cut – there is simply too much to choose from!

Please share your journey through the list via our social media channels using #northwessexdowns50 – we’d love to see your images and know what you think about our choice.

What would you have included?

You can also explore the locations included in our list of 50 Things on our Interactive Map.

Explore the very best of the North Wessex Downs:

Uffington White Horse

Uffington White Horse is the oldest and best-known of the white horses in North Wessex Downs. Fantastic views from the chalk downs and lots of wildlife in spring and summer.

Read More

Wayland’s Smithy

Wayland’s Smithy is a neolithic long barrow and tomb near to Uffington White Horse and situated on the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire.

Read More

Ashdown House

This unusual National Trust property was built for the Queen of Bohemia in 1662

Read More

Combe Gibbet

Set at the top of Inkpen Hill on a Neolithic long barrow is the eerie monument of Combe Gibbet.

Read More

Watership Down

Fantastic views and possibly some rabbits!

Read More

Highclere Castle

Seat of the Carnarvon family and well-known as television’s Downton Abbey

Read More


Site of the largest and one of the most important megalithic stone circles in Europe

Read More

Silbury Hill

Silbury Hill is Europe’s largest man-made hill at 130 feet high (40m)

Read More

Fyfield Down

Situated on a high plateau of chalk grassland, this exposed down has far-reaching views and one of the best collection of sarsen stones in Britain.

Read More