The Story of the North Wessex Downs

Lambourn Poppy Fields - Peter Orr
Lambourn Poppy Fields - Peter Orr

Find out more about the geology, the influence man has had on the landscape and why this is such a special place for wildlife.

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 - but what does that mean for the people who live and work here and the visitors who come to explore the area every year?

If you’d like to know more about this intriguing landscape, the team at the North Wessex Downs Partnership will be delighted to come and talk to your local group. Please contact