Do you know you live in the North Wessex Downs? A new guide will help you explore

Written by Sue Round on .

For those of us living here it's only too easy to ignore or take for granted the beauty of and ease of access to the land which surrounds us.

To remind us, and introduce this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty(AONB) the  North Wessex Downs Partnership has just published a set of 14 walks.  The walks are based in the 668 sq miles between Reading and Swindon to the East and North, and Andover and Devizes to the South and West, that make up the North Wessex Downs.

The walks are divided into three categories: Long (7+ miles), Medium (4-6 miles) and short (under 3 miles).  Each walk contains instructions, a map and points of particular interest.  Some are wheelchair and pushchair friendly.  Several of the walks are located in the immediate Marlborough area around Pewsey Vale, Avebury, the Kennet and Avon Canal, the Wansdyke, Bishops Cannings.  Others are a little further afield.

Rose Somerset, Communications Officer with North Wessex Downs AONB, said, “I hope the walks will help to promote the area and to raise awareness that it is a beautiful and protected landscape.”

Rose frequently gives talks about the geology, heritage and wildlife in the area to local interest groups and parish councils.  She says she is “often surprised by how few people are aware that this area is called the North Wessex Downs, that it is one of the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and was designated as such in 1972.”

She told,  “The North Wessex Downs is an amazing yet often overlooked landscape. Its story begins more than 150 million years ago when tiny algae were deposited on the beds of warm seas creating the layers of chalk we now see in the characteristic rolling hills.

Over the last six thousand years man has lived, farmed, fought, hunted and prospered here and there is evidence everywhere of the way people have used and shaped the land.  For wildlife, the North Wessex Downs offers a rich variety of special habitats for many unusual and rare species.

It’s not surprising that this area has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty protected by law to ensure that its special qualities are conserved and enhanced.”

A pack of all 14 walks can be obtained by local tourist businesses by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. They are also available in the Pewsey Tourist Information Kiosk and can be downloaded at

If any interested local groups would like to know more about the North Wessex Downs AONB contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to arrange a presentation and talk.