Around 85% of the world’s chalk streams are in England and the AONB holds a significant proportion of these.
The spring-fed streams and rivers of the North Wessex Downs AONB support an extremely diverse range of plants and animals. There are 618 kms of rivers and streams within the AONB boundary and the majority are chalk streams. The River Kennet has the highest diversity of species per site surveyed of any river in lowland England. The River Lambourn is one of the least modified rivers of its type. Water vole, pea mussels, brook lamprey and the nationally-scarce river-water dropwort can be found along their reaches. The Lambourn, Kennet and Hampshire Avon are all designated SSSIs while the River Lambourn and the Hampshire Avon are also SACs.
Good places to walk along a chalk stream include at Freemans Marsh in Hungerford, or along stretches of the Lambourn Valley Way and you can wander along a stretch of the River Kennet’s gin-clear waters between Axford and Littlecote.