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:

Cycling from Hermitage to Hampstead Norreys

Short and sweet. A lovely traffic-free cycle route near Newbury

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Sandham Memorial Chapel

A world-famous chapel containing Stanley Spencer’s visionary paintings tucked away just south of Newbury.

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Chalk Streams

Around 85% of the world’s chalk streams are in England and the AONB holds a significant proportion of these.

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The Views from Martinsell Hill

On a clear day you can see the spire of Salisbury Cathedral!

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Beacon Hill

Views for miles, an iron-age hillfort, buzzards and skylarks…

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Small Grain Picnic Site & Morgan’s Hill

Stunning walks and views from this little-known spot on the western edge of the AONB

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The Aldworth Giants

Visit these lengthy stone effigies which lie in splendour in a tiny church on top of the downs.

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The Wansdyke

A 5th or 6th Century defensive ditch and bank running from Morgan’s Hill near Bishops Canning to Savernake Forest near Marlborough in Wiltshire.

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Littlecote Roman Villa & Mosaic

An extensive and exceptional Roman villa, with a significant mosaic, on display to the public

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