AONB - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
What is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)?
An AONB is an area of nationally important landscape protected for their outstanding natural beauty, each with its own unique character and communities.
Did you know that almost half of Wiltshire is designated an AONB?
We are very lucky to have three AONBs in Wiltshire: part of The Cotswolds to the north of the county, Cranborne Chase & West Wiltshire Downs in the south west of Wiltshire and the North Wessex Downs.
The Cotswolds AONB
In the north west of Wiltshire the Cotswolds encompass the honey-pot village of Castle Combe and the picturesque market town of Malmesbury. Famous for the honey-coloured stone buildings and its beautiful green meadows. On the Wiltshire borders is the Cotswold Water Park which is home to more than 150 lakes and is an excellent spot for angling, walking, watersports or just simply enjoying the Cotswold countryside.
Many cottage industries still exist in this part of Wiltshire and with excellent transport links this AONB is easily explored.
Find out more about the Cotswolds AONB.
Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB
Stretching across the south west of Wiltshire, Cranborne Chase & West Wiltshire Downs AONB is a site of national importance and one of the largest and most rural of the AONBs in England and Wales. It covers over 380 square miles of diverse and spectacular countryside ranging from rich chalk grassland through to ancient woodland. Almost 14% of the UK's important wildlife rich chalk grassland is found here.
This AONB has over 50 sites of Special Scientific Interest and over 220 miles of chalk rivers meandering their way through the beautiful Nadder, Wylye and Chalk Valleys.
The area is a great place to stay and explore. With so many charming rural villages like Tisbury, visitors will be spoilt for choice. There are also immense opportunities for walking, cycling and horse-riding, as well as other outdoor activities such as golf and fishing. Enjoy breath-taking views along The Wessex Ridgeway Jubilee Trail and the Monarch’s Way which cross the area, or enjoy a family day out at many of our local attractions including Longleat, Stourhead, the Larmer Tree Gardens, Bush Farm Bison Centre and Old Wardour Castle which lie within the AONB.
Find out more about the Cranborne Chase & West Wilts Downs.
The North Wessex Downs AONB
South of Marlborough, the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was designated AONB status in 1972. It includes ancient woodland, open downland and chalk streams and grasslands and large scale open arable farmland. It is the third largest AONB in the country.
Forming part of the AONB is The Savernake Forest with its ancient woodland. Also part of the North Wessex Downs is the World Heritage Site of Avebury and a section of the Kennet & Avon Canal.
This AONB is rich in wildlife with National Nature Reserves at Fyfield Down and Pewsey Down. There are also amble opportunities to walk with the national path, the Ridgeway passing through the area.
Find out more about the North Wessex Downs.
Planning your visit to Wiltshire
If you are planning to a visit to Wiltshire to see first hand the amazing landscape and different areas designated AONB, we are here to help.
To get you started, we recommend you view some of the below pages as here you will find more information and suggestions on accommodation, things to do, attractions to visit and places to eat.
Last but not least, before you plan any trip, it is always a good idea to get the latest travel information.