Location of the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB in the UK
The top of the downs from above Cerne Abbas, looking south east towards the River Piddle valley
Ashmore pond
Map of Dorset, including the Dorset Downs, showing the geology
Badbury Rings hill fort

The plateau is part of the English Chalk Formation and is adjacent to Salisbury Plain and the West Wiltshire Downs in the north, and the Dorset Downs to the south west.

- Cranborne Chase

The downs are the most western part of a larger chalk formation which also includes (from west to east) Cranborne Chase, Salisbury Plain, Hampshire Downs, Chiltern Hills, North Downs and South Downs.

- Dorset Downs
Location of the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB in the UK

8 related topics

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Corfe Castle, captured and destroyed by Cromwell's army in 1646

Dorset

County in South West England on the English Channel coast.

County in South West England on the English Channel coast.

Corfe Castle, captured and destroyed by Cromwell's army in 1646
Geological map of Dorset
Durdle Door, a natural arch near Lulworth Cove
The beach near Bournemouth Pier. Dorset's coastline is a major attraction for tourists.
The Keep Military Museum in Dorchester
Traction engines on display at the Great Dorset Steam Fair
Thomas Hardy
Sherborne Abbey

These limestone areas include a wide band of Cretaceous chalk which crosses the county as a range of hills from north-east to south-west, incorporating Cranborne Chase and the Dorset Downs, and a narrow band running from south-west to south-east, incorporating the Purbeck Hills.

Culver Down, Isle of Wight

Downland

For the ship anchorage, see The Downs (ship anchorage).

For the ship anchorage, see The Downs (ship anchorage).

Culver Down, Isle of Wight
Galium verum (L.) Lady's Bedstraw, a typical English chalk downland plant

To the southwest, downlands continue via Cranborne Chase into Dorset as the Dorset Downs and southwards through Hampshire as the Hampshire Downs onto the Isle of Wight.

Stonehenge, the most famous antiquity on Salisbury Plain

Salisbury Plain

Chalk plateau in the south western part of central southern England covering 300 sqmi.

Chalk plateau in the south western part of central southern England covering 300 sqmi.

Stonehenge, the most famous antiquity on Salisbury Plain
Rough map of military training area (green) on Salisbury Plain within Wiltshire (blue) (it accounts for about half the area of Salisbury Plain)
Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain
Military use makes some areas of the plain inaccessible to the public.
Typical grassland at Netheravon Down.
The burnt-tip orchid (Neotinea ustulata) can be found on Salisbury Plain
The Duke of Burgundy butterfly (Hamearis lucina)
The cuckoo bee Nomada armata
The fairy shrimp Chirocephalus diaphanus
The stone curlew

The Hampshire Downs and the Berkshire Downs are chalk downland to the east and north of Salisbury Plain, and the Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase are to the southwest.

Hambledon Hill, as seen from Hod Hill

Hambledon Hill

Prehistoric hill fort in Dorset, England, situated in the Blackmore Vale five miles northwest of Blandford Forum.

Prehistoric hill fort in Dorset, England, situated in the Blackmore Vale five miles northwest of Blandford Forum.

Hambledon Hill, as seen from Hod Hill
On Hambledon hill, looking north
3D view of the digital terrain model
North end of Hambledon Hill

The hill itself is a chalk outcrop, on the southwestern corner of Cranborne Chase, separated from the Dorset Downs by the River Stour.

Brass Point, one of the Seven Sisters

Chalk Group

Lithostratigraphic unit (a certain number of rock strata) which contains the Upper Cretaceous limestone succession in southern and eastern England.

Lithostratigraphic unit (a certain number of rock strata) which contains the Upper Cretaceous limestone succession in southern and eastern England.

Brass Point, one of the Seven Sisters
The Needles, (Isle of Wight); part of southern England's extensive chalk outcrop.
Fossil echinoid Echinocorys from the Chalk Group of England
Contact between two units of the lithostratigraphy of South England: the Chalk Group (left, white, upper unit) and the Greensand Formation (right, green, lower unit). Location: Lulworth Cove, near West Lulworth, Dorset, England.
The Wealden Anticline.
Ivinghoe Beacon, Chiltern Hills

The broadly western margin of the Chalk outcrop is marked, from northeast to southwest, to south by the Chalk downlands of the Yorkshire Wolds, the Lincolnshire Wolds, a subdued feature through western Norfolk, including Breckland, the Chiltern Hills, the Berkshire Downs, Marlborough Downs and the western margins of Salisbury Plain and Cranborne Chase and the North and South Dorset Downs.

A view of the northern side of Hod Hill with the inner rampart on the left, the ditch in the middle and the outer rampart on the right.

Hod Hill

Large hill fort in the Blackmore Vale, 3 mi north-west of Blandford Forum, Dorset, England.

Large hill fort in the Blackmore Vale, 3 mi north-west of Blandford Forum, Dorset, England.

A view of the northern side of Hod Hill with the inner rampart on the left, the ditch in the middle and the outer rampart on the right.
3D view of the digital terrain model

The fort sits on a 143 m chalk hill of the same name that lies between the adjacent Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase.

View from Hambledon Hill overlooking Child Okeford and Blackmore Vale

Blackmore Vale

Vale, or wide valley, in north Dorset, and to a lesser extent south Somerset and southwest Wiltshire in southern England.

Vale, or wide valley, in north Dorset, and to a lesser extent south Somerset and southwest Wiltshire in southern England.

View from Hambledon Hill overlooking Child Okeford and Blackmore Vale
Sturminster Newton watermill

To the south and east, the vale is clearly delimited by the steep escarpments of two areas of higher chalk downland, the Dorset Downs to the south, and Cranborne Chase to the east.

National Character Area

Natural subdivision of England based on a combination of landscape, biodiversity, geodiversity and economic activity.

Natural subdivision of England based on a combination of landscape, biodiversity, geodiversity and economic activity.

134. Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase