What is so special about the area?

The Howardian Hills National Landscape covers 204 sq km (79 sq miles) of the North Yorkshire countryside, nestled between the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of York. It is a unique and captivating area with its well-wooded rolling countryside, patchwork of arable and pasture fields, scenic villages and historic country houses with classic designed parklands. Its designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was confirmed in 1987, in recognition of its national landscape importance. It is part of the National Landscapes network.

An Unusual Landform

The Howardian Hills has a complex geology, dominated by Jurassic limestone. The structure of the bedrock has resulted in steep ridges and varied soil types. During the last ice-age the deeply incised Kirkham Gorge was formed, which is of great scientific importance.

A Richly Varied Landscape

The landform consists of an intricate network of ridges, hills and valleys. These are clothed with a mosaic of woodland, rolling arable fields, small-scale pasture, fens, hedges and walls, formal parkland and scattered settlements.

A Landscape Of High Visual Quality

The variety of landform and land use produces a contrast in scale, colour, texture and form. The settings of the historic houses, woodlands, the broad sweeping views and the unspoilt farming landscapes and traditional building styles have a special aesthetic appeal.

An Important Wildlife Resource

The River Derwent, which flows through the eastern Howardian Hills, is nationally significant for its unusual geomorphology and outstanding wild plants and animals. Other habitats of national importance include fens and significant remnants of Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland.

A Remarkable Heritage

The Howardian Hills has a concentration of archaeological and historic features, ranging from Iron Age earthworks on prominent hilltops to the castles and monasteries of the medieval period. The numerous grand houses and designed landscapes have a dramatic effect upon the scenery.



National Landscapes and National Parks are seen as calm and tranquil areas, where people can relax , escape the rush of modern life and connect with nature. This is becoming increasingly important for both physical and mental health and wellbeing. 

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Howardian Hills AONB Newsletter 2023

Our latest newsletter

Our annual newsletter is packed full of updates and information about the Area and the work we’re doing to protect it.

Photo Credit: Header 1 – Looking towards the White Horse by Isaac Savage | Header 2 – Tawny Owl at Castle Howard by David Eccles | Header 3 – Dalby Maze by Liz Bassindale

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