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Watlington Countryside

Watlington lies in a beautiful, unspoilt corner of England. It is only a few miles to the north-west of London and yet has a very rural characterThe rolling countryside around Watlington is dotted with farms, hidden valleys, sleepy villages and medieval hamlets.

There is a wonderful network of rights of way, including the Ridgeway National Trail, offering many possibilities for walking. You can either stick to the flatter routes in the Vale or climb up the wooded Watlington Hill or other viewpoints on the ridge for magnificent views.

The Character of the area is dominated by the Chilterns scarp slope that rises behind the town. The gently rolling hills are swathed in beech woodland and chalk downland, providing a haven for wildlife.Wildflowers found on the downland in summer include abundant orchids and the rare Chilterns gentian. The area is also the perfect place to watch red kites soaring overhead. These distinctive birds of prey were re-introduced to the Chilterns from Spain in 1989-1994 after human persecution drove them to extinction in England by the end of the 19th century.

Around Watlington itself many attractive villages with their traditional brick and flint cottages nestle around medieval churches. It is particularly rewarding to get off the beaten track and discover such gems as Swyncombe with it's historic church, the sleepy hamlet of Cookley Green, Christmas Common with its magnficient views, the tradiional chilterns villages of Cuxham and Lewknor, and many more like Pishill, Pyrton, Shirburn, Brightwell Baldwin and Britwell Salome.

The Chilterns AONB
In 1965, 833 square kilometres of the Chilterns were designated by the government as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).This recognises that the Chilterns countryside is amongst the finest in the country, on a par with National Parks. The main aim of the AONB is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area, which means that the Chilterns is protected for future generations to enjoy. There are 40 other AONBs across England and Wales.

Prehistoric trackways such as the Ridgeway and the Iron Age hill forts scattered along the Hills give a sense of the ancient history of the Chilterns. Today, the area continues to provide a living for farmers and foresters. Millions of visitors every year enjoy walking, cycling and riding in the Chilterns using the dense network of lanes, footpaths and bridleways.