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June 2013. Issue No 45

In this issue:


North Wessex Downs AONB Office
Units 3-4
Denford Manor
Lower Denford
RG17 0UN

Telephone: 01488 685440
Fax: 01488 680453
E-mail us at:
Visit our website at:

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LEADER programme has injected over £3m into the local economy

LEADER Programme

The North Wessex Downs LEADER Programme has now completed its current round of funding awards. In total, £1.419m has been awarded to 64 different projects - to farmers, foresters, small businesses and rural communities across the North Wessex Downs. Combined with match funding, the LEADER team have facilitated a total investment in the area of more than £3 million since the Programme began in 2009. Over the last four years the programme has focused on four themes:

  • Farming, food and forestry - £598k has been awarded to 25 farming and forestry related businesses via farm modernisation, farm diversification and woodland management projects.
  • Business transformation and community development - a further £377k has helped create and develop other small rural businesses. At least 59 existing enterprises have benefitted either directly or indirectly and the programme has helped start five new businesses. Over £194k has been spent on projects to help develop and improve community services and facilities.
  • Challenges and opportunities for climate change - 13 projects have involved sustainable woodland management or renewable energy. All the projects are encouraged to be as sustainable as possible, for example in how they manage waste and use energy.
  • Enjoying the North Wessex Downs - £162k has helped 12 tourism related projects either by developing attractions or by creating holiday accommodation. Another six projects involved improvements to our cultural heritage.

The vast majority (81%) of the grant money awarded should help grow the economy - developing business, creating jobs, improving competitiveness and encouraging tourism. The grants will help create at least 35 new jobs and safeguard another 81.

What next?

The Local Action Group is now looking at options for securing future funding under the next Rural Development Programme, which is anticipated to start during 2015 and will run until 2020. Over the next few months LEADER will be working with partners and other rural stakeholders to develop ideas and agree a way forward.

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Opportunity! For AONB accommodation providers


A lot of visitors do not realise that they are actually visiting an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), how stunning the rural landscape is, and how much there is to see and do.

The North Wessex Downs has launched a project to realise the potential of the North Wessex Downs as a short break destination and raise the profile of landscape character among visitors. Love Your Landscape aims are to create a set of high quality marketing materials that can be used by tourism businesses and spread the benefits of tourism spending.

Oliver Cripps, acting Assistant Director says of the project: "Our recent discussions with providers and visitors have identified a low level of recognition for the North Wessex Downs in tourism promotion. We are grateful to the LEADER programme for this opportunity to encourage greater collaboration across the tourism sector in the North Wessex Downs through 'Love Your Landscape'.

We are inviting local accommodation, attraction and activity providers to contribute their ideas through a series of focus groups which will be held this summer. To take part, please email project coordinator, Alison Caffyn or contact the North Wessex Downs office.

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Good Woods for People, for Nature

Good Woods

Following on from the very successful North Wessex Downs Woodland Forum in February this year, we are a delivery partner in a new woodland initiative which is working across the South East and East of England.

Good Woods is a ground-breaking project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands. Home improvement company B&Q has teamed up with sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity the Sylva Foundation to revive woodlands and provide environmental, social and economic benefits.

It will focus on reaching out to owners and managers of under-managed woodlands. The project will promote the benefits of woodland management planning, help to strengthen links between communities and woodlands, build forestry skills, and develop markets for woodland products.

Our involvement, led by Council of Partners member Meg Chambers, is to identify 20 woodland owners or managers in the North Wessex Downs Project Area who would benefit from the Good Woods project and meet the eligibility criteria. Those selected will receive site visits by a professional forester this summer to map and assess their woodland.

This will contribute to the overall Good Woods target of visiting and mapping 10,000 hectares of woodland and supporting 200 woodland owners and managers in improving the condition of their woodlands in line with the UK Forestry Standard.

For more information and a short film about the Project, please visit or contact Meg Chambers at our offices 01488 685440 or at

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Open Farm Sunday - June 9

Open Farm Sunday

Open Farm Sunday - a great free family day out - looks set to be bigger and better than ever this year. Marlborough Downs farmer Laura Cooper, of Rutlands Farm near Avebury has been featured by Farmers Weekly as she plans to become a first-time host farmer. "It's a great platform to show people that farmers need nature as much as nature needs farming," she says.

There are few better illustrations of this than the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (MDNIA). Laura is one of 42 farmers in the scheme, restoring habitats and linking up wildlife areas across almost 100,000 hectares of Wiltshire downland.

On the day there'll be tractor and trailer rides; cows, sheep and pets corner; owls, bees and moths, a hog roast and barbecue and locally brewed beer on sale. The farmers also plan to encourage children to help construct a tree sparrow 'village'.

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Restoring flower-rich chalk grassland

Restoring flower-rich chalk grassland

A prime focus for the work of farmers and others involved in the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (MDNIA) is how to expand the area of species rich chalk grassland. Currently the areas of this important habitat are small and fragmented.

On June 27, during a short indoor session at West Overton, we will join with the MDNIA and Flora Locale to explore some of the issues, including grazing, ground preparation and sourcing seed. The field visit to Fyfield Down (part National Nature reserve) will allow participants to consider the options that may be practical in this area, where archaeological interests are paramount (some of the area is within the Avebury World Heritage Site). Much of Fyfield Down is species-poor with potential to increase its wildflower diversity. A scything demonstration will be held in the afternoon. Free places (with a £12 contribution for lunch) are available for farmers and land managers based in the North Wessex Downs area.

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Our Land partner profile

In each issue of this E-Bulletin we will be featuring one of the tourism businesses that have joined the Our Land project celebrating the distinctive features of our protected landscapes.

Compton Farmhouse B&B Broad Hinton

Compton Farmhouse B&B Broad Hinton

Helen and David moved from London, looking for a home near enough to the city for it to still be accessible, but wanting to live somewhere peaceful, quiet and beautiful. They fell in love with Marlborough and the beautiful downs, and decided that the farmhouse in Broad Hinton was perfect. It's been their home for 7 years, and they converted some of the adjoining barns into a private B&B area 2 years ago, realising that it would fit in perfectly with their schedules.

Parts of the property date back to 1756, and other parts are Victorian. They used traditional, regional chalk stone to rebuild the walls. Chalk stone is a very traditional local building material - used almost exclusively in the counties of the North Wessex Downs because of the rather substantial supply of chalk land. By building using this stone they preserved the historical connections of the AONB, as well as using a locally sourced building material.

Helen and David rebuilt the crumbling chalk stone walls around their garden, which, together with the stone used to restore their house and convert the barns, preserves the house's history and the connection that building work used to have to the surrounding land. There is also a Sarsen stone in the garden, a post-glacial sandstone of the same type as the ones used to make Stonehenge and Avebury. When they moved in the family planted a large amount of native trees, including horse chestnut, beech, silver birch, ash, hawthorn and prunus (the prunus blossoms around the date of their daughter's birthday every year and was planted for her birthday when they first moved to the farmhouse).

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Some dates for your diary

Saturday 1st - Also 15th and 29th June Meet the Railway Workers - Take a step back in time and meet the engine drivers,firemen and railway workers who worked on the locomotives and in the Swindon railway works. Kemble Drive, Swindon.
Saturday 1st - 12.00 noon Riding for the Disabled 21st Anniversary Fete - from 12 noon to 4pm at the Pembroke Centre, Home Farm Lane, Wilton, SP2 8PJ.
Sunday 2nd - 2.00pm Open Gardens Scheme - Crofton Lock House - Great Bedwyn, Marlborough. Garden in idyllic setting around 200 yr old lock keepers cottage. Unusual plants for sale.
Sunday 2nd - 10.00am HEAT (Hungerford Environmental Action Team) Guided Walk - Guided sociable circular walk out from and returning to Hungerford. Meet at Town Hall steps.
Wednesday 5th - 11.00am Open Gardens Scheme - Sharcott Manor - Pewsey. Six-acre plantsman's garden on greensand, planted for year-round interest. Wide range of trees and shrubs, densely planted mixed borders, with many unusual plants and climbers.
Wednesday 5th - 10.00am - 2.00pm Weyhill Local Produce Market - Includes craft stalls. Free entry. Fairground Craft & Design Centre, Weyhill, SP11 0QN
Thursday 6th - 8.30pm Bucklebury Common - Join Tim Culley for a short Evening Walk to hear the nightjars.
Sunday 9th - 11am to 4.00pm Open Farm at Rooknest Estate, Lambourn Woodlands - Take a tractor & trailer ride, meet the animals, marvel at the huge farm machinery. Lots to do, no charge for entry
Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th 10.00am - 5.00pm West Woodhay House Garden Show - Show Gardens, a Youth Gardening competition, Garden talks, a Flower Arranging demonstration, a Silent Auction with many hard-to-get lots, and numerous trade stands. The final of a brand-new music competition takes place on Sunday afternoon.
Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th at 2.00pm Open Gardens Scheme - The Old Mill - Ramsbury. Water running through multitude of channels no longer drives the mill but provides backdrop for whimsical garden of pollarded limes, sculpture, overflowing pots and herbaceous borders bursting with colour.
Saturday 15th - 11.30am Open Gardens Scheme - Broomsgrove Lodge - New Mill, Pewsey. Alongside stunning views of Martinsell Hill discover the imaginatively planted herbaceous borders, large vegetable garden, greenhouse and tunnel. Sunken terrace full of vibrantly planted pots.
Sunday 16th - All day Climb a tree on Father's Day - Book Dad in to experience the unique challenge and thrill brought by The Great Big Tree Climbing Company, who will be visiting the National Trust's Basildon Park on Father's Day. Use ropes, a harness and karabiners to access the canopy of magnificent trees.
Sunday 16th - 2.00pm The Woods of Hampstead Norreys - A 2.5 mile afternoon stroll with Dick Greenaway
Sunday 16th - 2.00pm Open Gardens Scheme - Chisenbury Priory - East Chisenbury. Medieval Priory with Queen Anne face and early C17 rear (not open) in middle of 5-acre garden on chalk. Mature garden with fine trees within clump and flint walls, herbaceous borders, shrubs, roses.
Tuesday 18th 10.00am to 1.30pm Summer habitats for farm wildlife - A morning to look at creating and managing summer habitats on arable farms for bumblebees, rare arable plants and farmland birds, using Environmental Stewardship or voluntary options. FREE to farmers and land managers. Booking essential - email
Wednesday 19th 10.00am - 2.00pm Weyhill Local Produce Market - Includes craft stalls. Free entry. Fairground Craft & Design Centre, Weyhill, SP11 0QN
Sunday 23rd - 10.00am Hungerford Farmers Market and Craft Fair - Range of delicious locally produced food including bread, pastries, pies, cakes, jams & chutnies, hard cheese & goat's cheese, butter, pork, beef and ready to bake meals. Home-made crafts and toys in the Town Hall.
Thursday 27th - 9.30am Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area MDNIA) technical workshop at West Overton in partnership with Flora Locale and the North Wessex Downs, this workshop will look at the special flora of chalk grassland, and consider management needs of the habitat for flora and invertebrate fauna. A scything demonstration will be held in the afternoon.
Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th Crofton Beam Engines in steam - Two magnificent steam engines moving a ton of water with every stroke.
Sunday 30th - 10.00am Marlborough Food Festival - Run by the popular twice monthly Marlborough Communities Market, supported by North Wessex Downs AONB, the Food Festival features some of the best producers in the West with workshops, activities and talks.
Sunday 30th - 10.00am Open Gardens Scheme - Oare House - Marlborough -- Fine house (not open) in large garden with large trees, hedges, spring flowers, woodlands, extensive lawns and kitchen garden. Limited wheelchair access.
Monday 1st - 9.30am Technical workshop - The Marlborough Downs supports a wide range of nationally important species associated with arable farmland. This includes rare arable plants previously thought of as weeds, such as corn buttercup and shepherd's needle. This MDNIA technical workshop will examine the conditions required by such species and ways that farmers and land managers can help to preserve arable biodiversity in their fields.
Monday 1st - 9.30am A Visit to the Ancient Unimproved Eddington Marsh - Walk and talk by Robert James (Trustee of the Town and Manor of Hungerford) and team, outlining the history of this environment, its resident wildlife and its future. Wellies advisable. Repeated on Friday July 7th at 7.00pm. More details email to:
Monday 1st - 7.00pm Georgian Hungerford - Tour with local historians Hugh & Lois Pihlens. Meet at Town Hall steps 7pm.
Tuesday 2nd A visit to the Chilton Estate, Hungerford - A two hour tour on foot and by tractor and trailer with a short reception at the end. Booking essential.
Saturday 6th - Sunday 7th 10.00am onwards The Barbury Show - now in its 4th year provides something for all the family. Visit the North Wessex Downs stand to sample our new Honeybee Nectar ale brewed by Ramsbury Brewery. The centrepiece of the Show is the CGA Festival of Food & Drink featuring a range of local producers all aiming to tempt you to try their produce.
Sunday 7th - 1.00pm Finding Mr Darcy Tour and Tea - Join a tour Basildon Park to find out more about the different filming projects that have taken place at the National Trust's property. After the tour treat yourself to a delicious afternoon tea served on handpicked vintage china.
Sunday 7th - 10.30am Farm Africa Day - Little Hidden Farm - Hungerford. Farm walk with Bill Acworth at 10.30am, locally produced food available from 12.30pm, hands on craft workshops from 2pm-4pm. Proceeds to Farm Africa.
Monday 8th - 6.30pm Chilton Estate Tour on Tractors and Trailers - Newtown, Hungerford. This traditional rural estate is based on environmentally friendly low input arable farming and livestock grazing, together with active woodland, riverine and wildlife management. It has been in Entry Level Stewardship since 2005 and Higher Level Stewardship since 2010.
Saturday 13th 8.30am to Sunday 14th at 9.00pm 100km Race to the Stones - Along the Ridgeway Path from Thame to Avebury. 800 entrants so far. More info at and
Sunday 14th - 2.00pm Open Garden Scheme - Easton Royal - Pewsey. Three contrasting gardens to enjoy in this historic conservation village. Easton Grange, a cleverly designed small garden, packed with many interesting flowers, shrubs and trees; Chapel Cottage with colourful wide borders, vegetables, mature trees and distant views; and Copes Cottage, a delightful cottage garden with a stunning gravel garden, mixed borders, vegetables, meadow and distant views.
Wednesday 17th - 10.00am Avebury Festival of British Archaeology Walk - Join the National Trust's property Archaeologist Dr Nick Snashall for a fascinating full day's walk exploring the landscape and monuments of Avebury.
Wednesday 24th - 9.00am Stone Age Pick and Mix days - Part of the Festival of British Archeology, lots of activities for families, including make a clay pot, draw an archaeological find, dress in prehistoric costume for a photo in the stone circle, and handle real stone tools.
Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th 12.30pm Open Garden Scheme - Dane Brook -Milkhouse Water, Pewsey. Approx one acre of gardens, incl herbaceous beds, shrubs, trees, semi formal garden, roses, oxbow pond with planted banks and thatched summer house. Tree lined river walk runs the length of the garden, leading to a shrubbery.
Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th Open Garden Scheme - Milkhouse Water Farm - Pewsey. A beautiful cottage garden incl a natural pond area, parterre formal box garden and paddocks with alpacas. The terraced area around the cottage displays wisteria, vines, clematis and many beautiful roses.
Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th Crofton Beam Engines in steam - Two magnificent steam engines moving a ton of water with every stroke.
Sunday 28th - 10.00am Top secret Basildon Park! - Can you solve the mystery of the lost diamonds? Children raid the dressing up box and become a detective for the day.

If you have an event in the North Wessex Downs that you would like us to mention, please email

And Finally...

New Ridgeway Ultra-Marathon

Two-time Olympic gold rowing champion James Cracknell has been promoting a new ultra marathon called the Race to the Stones, which covers 100km of our ancient Ridgeway Trail (North Wessex Downs helps to manage this 87-mile (139km) route).

The event takes place on July 13 and 14 and runs from Thame in Buckinghamshire to Avebury. Those less competitive participants can choose to walk the route over two days, staying at an overnight base camp at the halfway point. There are also pit stops every 10km where people can refresh and re-charge.

There are events throughout the spring and summer at a number of locations across the North Wessex Downs and these include field visits, fossil and cast making, fossil and rock identification and other events, with a small fee payable for each event.

Cracknell says: "I have travelled the world in search of races in epic places. The Ridgeway's legendary history and great British scenery make it a classic challenge." More details at

For up and coming events, see the AONB Events page.

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The North Wessex Downs AONB Team:

Julie Baldwin, Partnership Co-ordinator
Oliver Cripps, acting Assistant Director
Dawn Hamblin, Leader Programme Manager
Andrew Lord, Planning Advisor
Diane White, North Wessex Farmland Birds Advisor
Henry Oliver, Director
Ken Westall, Communications Officer (maternity cover)


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