North Downs

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Downland landscape in Ranscombe Nature Reserve near Cuxton, Kent.

The North Downs are a range of hills in the south east of England that belongs to the southern English chalk formation . It separates the more rural regions of southern England from the urbanized metropolitan area of Greater London .

It stretches over 160 km from Hampshire through Surrey and Kent . In Surrey, part of the North Downs is also known as Hog's Back . The hills are cut by the rivers Wey , Mole , Darent , Medway , and Stour . The mole crosses the North Downs between Dorking and Leatherhead in the so-called Mole Gap , which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) of European importance.

The North Downs form the northern part of a weald , the southern part of which is formed by the South Downs , which virtually represent the mirror image of the North Downs. The highest point in Surrey is Leith Hill , 294 m high south of Dorking in Surrey, but not part of the North Downs. In Kent, the North Downs with Westerham Hill reach a height of 252 m.

On or near the North Downs are the towns and villages of Basingstoke , Hampshire; Farnham , Guildford , Dorking , Reigate, and Redhill in Surrey; as well as Sevenoaks , Maidstone , Ashford and Dover in Kent. At the point where the North Downs meet the English Channel , they form the famous white chalk cliffs of Dover .

Since the chalk subsoil of the North Downs is very porous and therefore stores little water, a predominantly treeless landscape has developed. On the south side of the North Downs there are often steep slopes that are crossed by wooded anticline valleys . These are dry valleys typical of the landscape, with small towns and winding roads.

Within the North Downs, two areas are designated as Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). These are the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs .

The North Downs Way is a tourist attraction , a long-distance hiking trail that runs along steep slopes and follows a historical pilgrimage route known as the Pilgrims' Way in many places .

The predominant type of landscape in the North Downs is called Downland . It is characterized by a particularly high proportion of grassland, which was previously used as pasture for sheep. Based on the names of similarly shaped and used landscapes, a breed of sheep is named South Down and Hampshire Down . This designation prevailed even though both sheep breeds once grazed in the North Downs. For a long time the grazing sheep kept the grass in the North Downs short. However, since the number of grazing sheep has decreased significantly in recent decades and, in addition, a myxomatosis outbreak decimated the rabbit population in 1953 , the landscape is increasingly covered with bushes . The recovery of the rabbit population that has started in recent years has not had much influence on this development, as the bushland has already expanded over too large areas.

Web links

Commons : North Downs  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Environment Agency , Mole Abstraction licensing strategy (February 2013), p. 26, accessed on March 28, 2016

Coordinates: 51 ° 15 ′ 0 ″  N , 0 ° 30 ′ 0 ″  W.