The total areas of this BOA is 1378ha, of which of 220ha are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and over 100ha are Local Wildlife Sites.

The high chalk Walbury Hill and the escarpment runs west into Wiltshire. The area extends south along steep chalk slopes into Hampshire. The areas outside Berkshire are indicative only. It is likely that further areas Hampshire and Wiltshire could be added to this area.

Click here for area map,

Joint Character Area: Hampshire Downs is the east, Berkshire and Marlborough Downs in the west.

Geology: This area is on chalk with small areas of clay-with-flints on the flatter areas.

Topography: a north facing escapement along the northern edge and a chalk hill with steep slopes on the north and south side. The escarpment turns to the south in the east. There are steep west and east facing slopes in the rest of the area where dry valleys run southwards from the escarpment.


Lowland calcareous grassland: extensive areas of chalk grassland on the steep slopes include a number of SSSIs.
Lowland Mixed Deciduous Woodland: there are a number of woodland sites – a few are on the slopes and others are at the top of the slopes. The largest area is Coombe Wood and Linkenholt Hanging.
Other habitats: there are some areas of the less steep slopes with grassland that is more neutral to acid in character where gorse scrub is also present.

Geodiversity: Walbury Hill is the highest chalk hill in England. There is a chalk pit at West Woodhay Down.

Access: Much of the downland sites has open access.

Targets and opportunities: chalk grassland management and re-creation. Woodland management.

Contact the West Berkshire Farming and Countryside Project for free advice:

Sally Wallington

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07932 322163