About the Chilterns

Chilterns map

The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) covers 324 square miles of countryside, stretching from the River Thames in southern Oxfordshire up through Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. It is one of 38 AONBs in England and Wales, which belong to the same family as National Parks. Its designation as an AONB in 1965 recognised that the Chiltern Hills contain some of the finest landscapes in the country which are worthy of protection at the highest level.

The Chilterns AONB is a living, working area of countryside whose character has been shaped by people for centuries. Farmland covers nearly two-thirds of the AONB and over one-fifth of the area is wooded. Attractive villages with brick and flint cottages nestle in quiet valleys. The chalk rock underlying the Chilterns gives rise to hillsides of velvety chalk downland. Water stored in the rock emerges from springs to feed clear, sparkling chalk streams like the Chess and Misbourne.

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Chilterns Map

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People & History

Rupert Brooke

From famous artists to world-renowned authors, eminent politicians to kings and queens, the Chilterns has long been associated with famous people from British history

Chalk Streams

Chalk Streams

Chalk streams are a characteristic and attractive feature of the Chilterns landscape



The Chilterns is a heavily wooded landscape, with the famous beechwoods the jewel in the crown


walkers Dunstable Downs

Commons have a long history in the community life of the Chilterns, and many remain today as important green spaces at the heart of village life

Farming & Land Use


Agriculture has been taking place in one form or another for thousands of years in the Chilterns

Historic Environment

Castle at Berkhamsted

The Chilterns is an ancient landscape with traces still visible today of many eras and previous settlers

Red Kites

red kite

The Chilterns is one of the best places in the UK to see this magnificent bird of prey, which was re-introduced to the area over 20 years ago.

Box Woodland

box hedge

The country's largest native box woodland is found in the Chilterns, and there is lots of work to research the rich history of box and its uses



Buildings Heritage

cottages Hambleden

From charming brick and flint cottages to rustic barns, medieval churches and magnificent stately homes, the Chilterns has a great wealth of fascinating buildings