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Latest news

'My Favourite Places' photo competition

Photo Competition

Can you capture the spectacular beauty of the North Wessex Downs? In celebration of our 40th Anniversary, we are launching a photo competition with over £1,700 worth of photographic equipment on offer for the best shots. Find out more.

The Bountiful Landscape Market

The Bountiful Landscape Market

Also in celebration of our 40th Anniversary, we are putting on this event to celebrate all the wonderful things that come from the AONB landscape.

Held in Hungerford Town Hall on Saturday 21st July, there will be plenty of stalls offering tastings of local foods and beer, demonstrations of local crafts, competitions, a raffle and an opportunity to learn more about the AONB and the work that we do to conserve and enhance the area. For more info, contact

Inspiration on two wheels

We have secured funding from the 1 South West (1SW) Cycling Project to survey all 1,480 km of legally accessible off-road cycle routes across Wiltshire, West Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire. Information regarding the type of trail, including International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) grading, descriptions, photographs, videos and management information will then be uploaded to the 1SW Adventure Cycle Map. Whether you fancy a day out cycling with the family or a challenging cycling experience, this map has something for you. Find out more.

Government launches consultation on Rights of Way law

Defra is seeking your views on a proposed package of changes to the processes for recording, diverting and extinguishing public rights of way. Feedback will be used to inform Government decisions on whether and how to implement the various proposals for improvement.

Have your say and find out more about the consultation.
Find out more about Rights of Way
See what the Ramblers are doing in response.

Also, £60,000 is available for community-led projects to improve countryside access with the Path Improvement Grants Scheme (PIGS) in Wiltshire. Contact

AONB view on new national planning policies

The long-awaited National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published by the Government in March 2012 and our Planning Advisor has set about updating the AONB’s Housing, Setting and Renewable Energy Position Statements accordingly. Read his comments on the NPPF.

Would your local council or group like a visit from the AONB Team?

Recent changes in national and community planning will affect everyone. Not only do we have the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF, see the article above), but the Localism Act 2011 introduces Neighbourhood Plans, a Community Right to Build, Neighbourhood Development Orders and other new things. There’s lots of general advice available on what these things mean and how to make use of them, but if you’d like to find out more about how they might specifically affect your parish, town council or other group in an AONB, please get in touch.

Perhaps you’d like a more general presentation on what the AONB actually does, what we can offer you and how you can get more involved. Whatever your particular interest, if you’d like a visit (with or without a presentation) please contact Julie Baldwin e:,, t: 01488 685440 and we’ll arrange a date to suit you.

New faces

We’d like to welcome Dawn Hamblin as the new LEADER Programme Manager. Dawn was the LEADER Programme Assistant and stepped up to the role after Corinna Woodall left to join Tamar Valley AONB. We’re delighted to have such a capable individual staying on board.

We’re also very pleased to welcome Julie Baldwin as acting Office Manager, also providing admin support for the LEADER Programme. Julie has confidently taken to the role and will be the first voice you hear when you call the AONB. We hope to recruit a permanent replacement for Liz Duquenoy, who left us in March, in the next few months.


Grants to enhance the AONB

Chalk Links

Chalk Links

From left to right: Lesley Dunlop, Berkshire Geoconservation Group; Isobel Geddes, Wiltshire Geology Group; Professor Rory Mortimore; Denise Dane, Oxfordshire Geology Trust

A brand new series of factsheets has just been produced, with help from our Sustainable Development Fund (SDF), illustrating how chalk geology underpins many aspects of the North Wessex Downs landscape.

These materials have been produced in partnership with local Geology groups and can be reproduced and used for free by AONB partners, educational establishments and local not-for-profit groups.

To help promote the factsheets and the project, an event was held on 17th March at the Croft Hall in Hungerford. Forty-five people turned out to hear Professor Rory Mortimore, from Brighton University, who gave an overview of how chalk forms and why it is important to preserve key sites to help our understanding of the sequence. In addition, Dr Clive Edmonds, from Peter Brett Associates, spoke of 'holes' in the chalk, some of which are natural, for example swallow holes, and others related to mining for brick making or agricultural purposes.

Following the meeting participants joined a walk around Hungerford to look at various aspects such as the surrounding landscape, the dry valley that the main street is built on, the canal and its influence on building and local brick and building styles.

Partners in the project were: Berkshire Geoconservation Group, Hampshire Important Geological Sites, Oxfordshire Geology Trust and Wiltshire Geology Group.

Download the factsheets from our website.

If you think one of our SDF grants could help your project please get in touch with Oliver Cripps on 01488 680457 or


Some dates for your diary

20th The Summoning - Invocations and Rituals under the stars on ancient Snelsmore Common, part of the Berkshire Giant Project. 9.30 pm. See
23rd Community Shops Fortnight - A celebration of individual shops to inspire other communities to save their shop through community ownership. Visit Plunkett Foundation
29th Flora Locale Annual Summer meeting - Carvers Hill Farm, Shalbourne. See Flora Locale to book.
30th White Horse Illuminations - Devizes 9.15pm and Alton Barnes 7pm. Don’t miss these spectacular shows of light and music. Visit Salisbury Festival
5th Glow-worms and nightjars - Join Tim Culley for a late evening walk on Bucklebury Common. 8pm, see
9th Managing Woodland for Biodiversity - the first in our series of one-day workshops on forestry good practice in the North Wessex Downs AONB. Contact
15th Ancient & Modern - Join Dick Greenaway for a short walk around historic Yattendon including a visit to an ultra-modern dairy unit. 1pm, see
19th Glow-worms and nightjars - As 5th July (see above).
21st The Bountiful Landscape Market - Stalls offering tastings of local foods and beer, demonstrations of local crafts, competitions, a raffle and an opportunity to learn more about the AONB and the work that we do to conserve and enhance the area, 10am-5pm. For more info contact

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


And finally...

Bee kind to bumblebees please

Bumblebee Conservation Trust

The new national 'Bees for Everyone' campaign from The Bumblebee Conservation Trust calls on gardeners to help the dwindling populations of bumblebees. To launch the project, the charity is running a national ‘Bee kind’ competition to find the UK’s most bee-friendly gardens. A custom-built interactive website tool makes it easy for people to get a Bee kind score for their garden, park or window box, then makes suggestions for other plants to include. To take part visit


The North Wessex Downs AONB Team:

Julie Baldwin, acting Office Manager
Oliver Cripps, acting Assistant Director
Dawn Hamblin, Leader Programme Manager
Andrew Lord, Planning Advisor
Diane Nicolle, North Wessex Farmland Birds Advisor
Henry Oliver, Director
Katie Wilson, Communications Officer



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