A WALKING festival has been designed to celebrate 50 years of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The North Wessex Downs Walking Festival, founded by North Wessex Downs AONB, is to celebrate the protected landscape becoming an AONB in 1972 under The National Parks and Access to Countryside Act 1949.

Herald Series: Walking festival in Beacon Hills (C.Hoey)Walking festival in Beacon Hills (C.Hoey)

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The event, which is taking place from Friday, June 11 to Sunday, June 26, consists of 28 different walks across Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire which the North Wessex Downs AONB covers.

It is 668 square miles in total and is the third largest AONB in England. It was made an AONB to enhance on the largest tracts of chalk downloads in south England along with other landscapes.

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The walks, which range in length, will include opportunities to discover wildlife, history or culture, follow an accessible trail, visit a working farm, enjoy a family picnic or “simply soak up the views from atop the downs”.

Herald Series: Walking Festival in Letcombe Valley (Jacky Akam)Walking Festival in Letcombe Valley (Jacky Akam)

Some walks taking place in Oxfordshire include:

  • Literary Hitchhiking in Up on the Downs, Wantage – June 26
  • Letcombe Brook Discover Trail, Wantage – June 25
  • Alongside the Thames, Streatley near Wallingford – June 19
  • Geology and landscape around Ashdown House, Ashbury – June 19

Guides will be leading the walks and showing guests their favourite places to visit.

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Many of the walks are free but booking is required. For more details, visit: https://www.northwessexdowns.org.uk/walking/walking-festival/


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