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about-cranborne-chaseAn Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a landscape which is considered so precious that it is protected for the nation. AONBs are designated for their valuable wildlife, habitats, geology and heritage, as well as scenic views.

The primary purpose of the AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area, now and for future generations.

This nationally designated AONB covers 380 sq miles (983 sq kilometres) of countryside overlapping the boundaries of Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset and is the sixth largest of the 46 AONBs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The AONB is a diverse landscape with areas of rolling chalk grassland, ancient woodlands, chalk escarpments, downland hillsides and chalk river valleys each with a distinct and recognisable character. The landscapes of the AONB today, as they were in the past, are extraordinarily rich.

View maps of the AONB, showing a range of important features.

Learn more about the nation's AONBs here.

Remember - when visiting the countryside always follow the Countryside Code.

Cranborne Chase AONB Management Plan (2019-2024)

This plan was prepared by a wide range of individuals and organisations with an interest in conserving and enhancing the AONB and has been formally adopted by the nine Local Authorities who share responsibility for guiding the management of this nationally important area - visit the Management Plan webpage to view the plan.

The AONB Partnership

The AONB Partnership is open to everyone who lives and works in the area. It also welcomes visitors to the area and other interested parties, be they individuals, government or non-governmental organisations or an interest group. The Cranborne Chase Landscape Trust is represented on the AONB Partnership and works closely with it on many projects. Find out more about the Cranborne Chase AONB Partnership.

Did you know that….?

  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are equal in landscape status to National Parks.
  • There are ½ million people within thirty minutes drive of the Cranborne Chase AONB in surrounding market towns and the Bournemouth and Poole conurbations.
  • The AONB covers an area of 983 square kilometres or 380 square miles of countryside overlapping the boundaries of Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset.
  • The AONB has an extensive network of Rights of Way, the combined length of over 1,500 km (927 miles) would take you from Southampton to Edinburgh and back again.
  • The long distance footpaths of the Wessex Ridgeway, Jubilee Trail and the Monarch’s Way all criss-cross the AONB.
  • There are a myriad of ancient droves and track-ways bristling with history waiting to be explored.
  • There are at least 550 Scheduled Ancient Monuments and more than 50 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (important areas for nature) within the AONB.
  • Farming is by far the most significant land use with more than 89% of the AONB classed as farmland.
  • Almost 14% of the UK’s important chalk grassland is found here.
  • The AONB abounds with many ancient woodlands.
  • There are over 350kms (220 miles) of chalk rivers.
  • There are 33,000 people resident within the AONB, which is one of the lowest population densities in the South West of England.