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Three Must-visits in the North Wessex Downs Area

14 October 2020

Wantage outdoors blog

The unassuming, small market town of Wantage boasts some historic claims to fame: it’s the birth of King Alfred the Great, was featured in the Domesday Book a thousand years ago, and there’s evidence that it was a Roman settlement.

There are many great places to visit and activities to take part in in the town, but travel just a short way south and you’ll reach the breath-taking views of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This 1,730 km sq conservation area shares its northern borders with the historic market town and there’s so much to see and do, so we’ve picked some of our favourite must visits.

Savernake Forest

If you’re interested in nature and wildlife, Savernake Forest is a must visit. Registered as a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), Savernake Forest is a home to ancient trees, rich landscapes and diverse wildlife.

Known as one of the oldest trees in England, the Big Bellied Oak is standing strong in the middle of the forest and is famous for being visible from the side of the A346.

If you’re looking for a peaceful picnic spot, scenic walking trails or looking to treat your pets, Savernake Forest will satisfy your urge for nature.

White Horse Hill

Situated on the northern escarpment of the downs, the hill attracts many visitors from across the UK and the globe who are longing to see the world-famous, stylised Bronze-Age chalk White Horse.

Landscape photographers are lured in by the hill, for a feature known as Giant’s Steps, a dry valley with ripped sides that have been in the North Wessex Downs Area since the last Ice Age. The hill also features an Iron Age fort with a rampart and ditch. The fort is the highest point in Oxfordshire and, on a clear day, it gives a stunning view of six counties.

The Living Rainforest

You don’t have to travel to Brazil to see the world’s most brightly colour animal, nor need to travel to Madagascar to see a pretty plant used for cancer-fighting medicines.

The Living Forest’s tropical glasshouses are filled with 700 species of exotic plants and animals that are found all over the world. On a day out with your friends or family, you’ll be able to see a tropical plant from South America or a plant with curly leaves from the Philippines living side by side in rural England.

The Living Rainforest also operates a range of educational activities and works with charities to get involved in community initiatives, making it an ideal place to take your loved ones and connect with your local area.  

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If you’re looking for a home in a historical market town with the stunning countryside on your doorstep then get in touch with the team to find out more about the homes available at Renaissance in Wantage, call 01235 330168 or e mail [email protected]