Sections of eight National Character Areas fall within Oxfordshire’s county boundaries reflecting its great range of landscape types. Each is defined by a unique combination of landscape, biodiversity, geodiversity and cultural and economic activity. Their boundaries follow natural lines in the landscape rather than administrative boundaries, making them a good decision making framework for the natural environment.
Oxfordshire’s NCAs, in descending order of sum of area in Oxfordshire (Hectares):
NCA 108 : Upper Thames Clay Vales 107,329 Ha
The Upper Thames Clay Vales are a low-lying and undulating clay vale landscape, contrasting with elevated landforms in bordering NCAs and with Midvale Ridge NCA in its midst. The NCA is the central section of a huge belt of low-lying land running through south central England from Somerset to Lincolnshire.
NCA 107 : Cotswolds 73,991 Ha
The Cotswolds form the best-known section of the predominantly oolitic Jurassic Limestone belt that stretches from the Dorset coast to Lincolnshire. The dominant pattern of the Cotswold landscape is of a steep scarp crowned by a high, open wold; the beginning of a long and rolling dip slope cut by a series of increasingly wooded valleys.
NCA 110 : Chilterns 26,059Ha
Chilterns is one of several NCAs that make up an outcrop of the Chalk stretching from East Anglia to Dorset and to the South Downs. To the north-east, the Chiltern escarpment lowers into the East Anglian Chalk. In the south-west, the neighbouring escarpments of the Chilterns and the Berkshire and Marlborough Downs face each other across the Thames at the Goring Gap. From the northwest-facing escarpment, the Chilterns dip slope descends to the south-east into the London Basin, where the Chalk is overlain by younger bedrock.
NCA 109 : Midvale Ridge 23,248 Ha
The Midvale Ridge NCA is a band of low-lying limestone hills stretching east–west from the Vale of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire to Swindon. It is surrounded by the flat lands of the Oxfordshire clay vales, giving extensive views across the surrounding countryside. It is a predominantly agricultural area with a mixed arable/ pastoral farming landscape, cereals being the most important arable crop.
NCA 116 : Berkshire and Marlborough Downs 15,589 Ha
Vast arable fields stretch across the sparsely settled, rolling Chalk hills of the Berkshire and Marlborough Downs NCA. There are extensive views from the escarpment in particular, punctuated by landmarks including chalk-cut horse figures, beech clumps and ancient monuments. Historic routeways, including the Ridgeway National Trail, provide public access across this landscape.
NCA 95 : Northamptonshire Uplands 11,232 Ha
The Northamptonshire Uplands NCA is s mainly underlain by middle Jurassic limestones and clays of the Lias, capped locally by the iron-stone bearing Marlstone and Northampton Sands. The Oxford Canal and River Cherwell run through part of this NCA which is in the most northerly part of Cherwell District.
NCA 88: Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Claylands 2,972 Ha
The Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Claylands NCA comprises a broad sweep of lowland plateau, dissected by a number of shallow valleys, including the rivers Great Ouse and Ivel. It is typically an empty gently undulating lowland landscape. A small portion of this NCA occupies a north-easterly corner of Cherwell District.
NCA 115 : Thames Valley 165 Ha
The Thames Valley is a mainly low-lying, wedge-shaped area, widening from Reading, which includes Slough, Windsor, the Colne Valley and the south- west London fringes. The River Thames provides a unifying feature through a very diverse landscape of urban and suburban settlements, infrastructure networks, fragmented agricultural land, historic parks, commons, woodland, reservoirs and extensive minerals workings.