Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Protected areas of English countryside
rom golden stretches of sand to wild, unkempt heath, the English countryside is awash with beautiful landscapes – but only 35 have earned that special status that preserves them for future generations.
Dotted around all four corners of England’s green and oh-so-pleasant land, the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty each have their own character, scenery and outdoor attractions.
A classic example are the Malvern Hills where, at the summit of Worcestershire Beacon, you can look out over 13 counties (try counting them), from 1,395ft up.
This eight-mile ridge is a mountain range in miniature, made for quiet rambles and leisurely strolls. There’s even a walk called Miles Without Stiles for those of us who prefer our ‘constitutionals’ not to involve clambering over muddy field entrances every five minutes.
Surprisingly, human influence on Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Head to Chichester Harbour , a stretch of tidal flats and saltings on the south coast, and part of its appeal is the church spires, red-roofed villages and old mills surrounding it.
This is also one of the busiest waterways in Britain, with 12,500 boats of all shapes and sizes coming here to dock. So why not make the most of it and hop on board one of them, to spot the Brent geese and 50,000 other birds that live in the nearby coastal mudflats throughout the year.
These beautiful landscapes may be protected but they’re also there to be enjoyed…
Psst... Handy hints
On your bike
Pedal along the Leighton Moss cycle trail in Arnside and Silverdale. It’s located in an RSPB nature reserve so bring your binoculars along for the ride.
On London's doorstep
Spend an afternoon walking through the bluebell woods of the Chilterns , while red kites circle on overhead thermals.