North Wessex Downs

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The North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located in the English counties of Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. The name North Wessex Downs is not a traditional one, the area covered being better known by various overlapping local names, including the Berkshire Downs, the White Horse Hills, the Lambourn Downs, the Marlborough Downs, the Vale of Pewsey and Savernake Forest.At its north-east extreme, the North Wessex Downs AONB faces across the Goring Gap to the Chilterns AONB on the other side of the River Thames. From here working anti-clockwise around the horse-shoe, the Berkshire Downs have a steep scarp slope facing north over the Vale of the White Horse and a gentler dip slope facing south into the valley of the River Kennet. The area includes the horse-racing village of Lambourn and is hence sometimes known as the Lambourn Downs. Beyond the town of Marlborough the downs (now called the Marlborough Downs) sweep in a semi-circle to the south around the headwater of the River Kennet, and the Vale of Pewsey cuts through these downs carrying the headwaters of the Hampshire River Avon. Here too can be found the wooded area of Savernake Forest. Finally, the highest stretch of the downs runs east along the Berkshire/Hampshire border on the opposite side of the River Kennet from the Berkshire Downs. Again the scarp slope is to the north (facing down in the valley of the Kennet) and the dip slope is to the south into Hampshire.

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