|LCT6 Enclosed Chalk and Clay Woodland||
LCA6F Rushmore Wooded Downs
A dramatic rising landform interspersed with dry valleys, combes and ridges. Steep long sinuous scarps, are predominantly woodland, as at Conholt Down, Rushmore Down, Sheep Down and Wind Hill Down. Strong patterns of medium to small sized fields with thick hedgerows across the landform. Predominantly arable with smaller fields of pasture associated with farmsteads.
Rushmore Wooded Downs lie south of Vernham Dean, Upton and Hurstbourne Tarrant, and rising to the ridge line at Cow Down and then across in a southeast direction to Hurstbourne Hill.
Local Physical Influences
Geology and Soils: Upper Chalk with Middle Chalk along valley bottom.
Landform: Rushmore Wooded Downs forms a distinctive sinuous chalk escarpment, part of the highest area of land in the Borough, falling northwards from Cow Down (LCA8A) at 230m to the River Swift winterbourne.
Drainage: The area drains into the River Swift valley and is well drained with no streams of waterbodies.
Local Biodiversity and Vegetation Pattern
This landscape has a much steeper aspect than the previous character areas and in contrast to LCA 6C has a greater incidence of open arable areas but still retains its woodland and hedgerows. The woodlands are mainly small copses and game spinneys with some shelter belts. Frequent tree species are Ash, Field Maple and Yew and other trees found in lower frequencies include Lime, Hornbeam and Elm with occasional Oak. The shrub layers are generally composed of Hazel, Elder, Blackthorn, Dogwood, Spindle and Privet. Typically Hazel was planted as a coppice crop.
Ground flora includes Dogs Mercury, with Bluebells, Enchanters Nightshade, Arum Lily, Early Dog Violet, Yellow Archangel, Sanicle, Moschatel, and Pignut. Wetter areas often have dense covers of Ransoms/Wild Garlic. Typical orchids include Early Purple Orchid, Twayblade Birds-Nest Orchid.
Pockets of unimproved calcareous grassland are also found.
Local Historical Influences
Numerous large irregular assarted fields associated with pre-1810 woodland survive within the north western portion of this character area. Also within this north western zone are discrete bands of surviving downland and several 19th century hangers extend through this narrowing strip of land.
The southern valley side of the River Swift is included within this character area and this is dominated by parliamentary field enclosures which extend generally up to the valley ridge line. Further up on the higher ground extend a series of informal field systems characterised by regular fields with wavy boundaries. This indicates a process of enclosure which may have occurred between the late medieval period and the late 17th/early 18th century. The road systems within this Landscape Character Area all appear to cut through and not follow the contour lines to head directly up/down slope.
No formal settlements are found within this character area. The farmsteads within this character area are well dispersed throughout all of the historic landscape character types.
Three roads transverse this area, located within dry valleys. These include the A343.
Features of Built Form
The built form includes harder chalk sometimes used in walls, brick and flint, chalk cob and thatch, with some older buildings retaining timber framing.
No specific comments were made for this area.
Remoteness and Tranquillity
A remote area with a high level of tranquillity.
Interesting chalkland scenery including coombs and ridges
Wooded sinuous scarps and small woodland copses
Remnants of unimproved grasssland
Areas of rough grassland
Thick hedgerows with hedgerow trees
Mixed farming with field sizes ranging from medium to small
Settlements limited to well dispersed farmsteads
Remnants of assarting within the north western portion
The downland is occupied by woodland and late medieval/early post-medieval field systems. Only the lower valley slopes have been the focus of 19th century parliamentary enclosure
A particularly tranquil area.
Potential risk of more marginal landscapes to be brought into intensive arable cultivation, threatening the survival of an area of late-medieval/early post-medieval field systems.
North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Rushmore & Conholt Downs - Unimproved calcareous grassland, scrub and broadleaved woodland
6 SINCs including ancient semi-natural woodland and agriculturally unimproved grassland