The distinctive, secluded chalk valleys of the National Landscape drain the surrounding open chalk uplands. Flowing southwards into the larger Stour, Piddle and Frome rivers, each valley has its own unique character and sense of place, with a diversity of important habitats and cultural features. With traces of old water meadows, distinctive church spires, country houses and characteristic settlements of stone, brick and flint, the chalk valleys display a rich rural, cultural heritage.



Landscape change

  • Coniferous woodland planting on the upper valley sides has been one of the most significant changes in the past.
  • Policy driven farming changes over the last seventy years, resulting in concentration of stock levels, has limited the availability of livestock to graze land of low agricultural value such as characteristic grassland. In places, this has resulted in low grazing pressure and increased scrub encroachment on the steeper valley slopes.
  • Some rough pasture and wet meadows on the valley floor have been lost through conversion to larger fields of arable use.
  • Water abstraction and agricultural practices have altered water flows along the rivers with the loss of characteristic patterns of meadows and wet woodlands.
  • Modern residential developments in more open locations towards the open uplands, threatens to weaken the pattern of tight knit villages.
  • Future small-scale development pressures on the edges of existing villages may increases traffic levels and associated signage and loss of rural character.
  • A growth in the use of fringe pastures near to settlements for horse grazing, changing the rural character of settlement edges.
  • Continued pressure communication masts could further threaten important open skylines.
  • Large areas of upland have been subject to historical intensification and with loss of important boundary features.
  • Agriculture is becoming more market driven with intensification of production and farm diversification. This may result in short term changes in agricultural patterns in the landscape with diversification into other crops such as biomass crops, shooting and provision of tourism accommodation, altering the intimate character of the valley bottoms. In more open locations, land use change could have a significant visual impact.
  • Some Parkland trees are becoming over-mature and will eventually need replacing.