Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (UK)

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An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is land protected by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act). It protects the land to conserve and enhance its natural beauty.[1]

An AONB is an area of countryside in England, Wales or Northern Ireland which has been designated for conservation due to its significant landscape value. Areas are designated in recognition of their national importance, by the relevant public body: Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, or the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. In place of AONB, Scotland uses the similar national scenic area (NSA) designation. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty enjoy levels of protection from development similar to those of UK National Parks, but unlike with national parks the responsible bodies do not have their own planning powers. They also differ from National Parks in their more limited opportunities for extensive outdoor recreation.

Sources for Boundary Routes


Natural England: locked up in ArgGIS Online?

Natural Resources Wales: geojson and shpfile, copyright Natural Resources Wales and OS

Northern Ireland Environment Agency geojson and shpfile, OGL


AONBs are created by a document known as Designation Order, which includes an OS map with the boundary marked on it. The boundaries may be amended by subsequent orders. We presumably can't use these maps where they are still in copyright, but the Crown Copyright only lasts for 50 years, so the designation orders for any AONBs that were created more than 50 years ago, and haven't been modified since are fine to use. Natural England probably holds copies of all the orders, so we should be able to request them using the Freedom of Information Act.

user:rjw62 successfully made a request for a copy of the Malvern Hills Designation Order [1]. It would appear that, at least in this case, the boundary tends to run along the side of roads, rather than down their centrelines.

List of AONBs

AONBs in bold are not yet mapped (or parts are not yet mapped)

AONB Country Created Boundary Relation Complete Notes
Arnside and Silverdale England 1972 relation 9310559
Blackdown Hills England 1991 relation 7072146
Cannock Chase England 1958 relation 9335891
Chichester Harbour England 1964 relation 9336138
Chilterns England 1964 relation 7129946
Cornwall England 1959 relation 3126721
Cotswolds England 1966 relation 166570 100% Some sections guesswork
Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs England 1983 relation 2664452
Dedham Vale England 1970 relation 9336585
Dorset England 1959 relation 9310601
East Devon AONB England 1963 relation 7527203
Forest of Bowland England 1964 relation 6402472
High Weald England 1983 relation 8815682
Howardian Hills England 1987 relation 383665
Isle of Wight England 1963 relation 10097270
Isles of Scilly England 1976 relation 9336696
Kent Downs England 1968 relation 10601794
Lincolnshire Wolds England 1973 relation 3317398
Malvern Hills England 1959 relation 233879 100% Designation order used to determine route
Mendip Hills England 1989 relation 3643754
Nidderdale England 1994 relation 6540319
Norfolk Coast England 1968 relation 9471593
North Devon England 1960 relation 9452837
North Pennines England 1988 relation 6576894
North Wessex Downs England 1972 relation 2904192
Northumberland Coast England 1958 relation 10037468
Quantock Hills England 1956 relation 1916427 100% Designation Order used to determine route
Shropshire Hills England 1959 relation 9447287
Solway Coast England 1964 relation 9346927
South Devon England 1960 relation 10796363
Suffolk Coast and Heaths England 1970 relation 9456324 Expansion (relation 10782441) submitted for approval not yet given.[2]
Surrey Hills England 1958 relation 7640939
Tamar Valley England 1995 relation 10773241
Wye Valley England and Wales 1971 relation 9629559
Anglesey Wales relation 10676742
Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Wales relation 10757713
Gower Peninsula Wales 1956 relation 10724536
Llŷn Peninsula Wales relation 10724031
Antrim Coast and Glens Northern Ireland relation 1430481
Binevenagh Northern Ireland relation 1429007
Causeway Coast Northern Ireland relation 1430482 100%
Lagan Valley Northern Ireland relation 9814856
Mourne and Slieve Croob Northern Ireland relation 1426740
Ring of Gullion Northern Ireland relation 1426744
Sperrins Northern Ireland relation 1429005 100%
Strangford & Lecale Northern Ireland relation 1428604 100%

National Scenic Areas (NSA) (Scotland only )

NSA Boundary Relation Complete Notes
Ben Nevis and Glen Coe
Cairngorm Mountains within Cairngorms National Park
Cuillin Hills
Deeside and Lochnagar within Cairngorms National Park
Dornoch Firth
East Stewartry Coast
Eildon and Leaderfood
Fleet Valley
Glen Affric
Glen Strathfarrar
Hoy and West Mainland
Kyle of Tongue
Kyles of Bute
Loch Lomond within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Loch na Keal, Isle of Mull
Loch Rannoch and Glen Lyon
Loch Shiel
Loch Tummel
Lynn of Lorn
Morar, Moidart and Ardnamurchan
North Arran
Nith Estuary
North West Sutherland
River Earn (Comrie to St Fillans)
River Tay (Dunkeld)
Scarba, Lunga and the Garvellachs
Small Isles relation 284135
South Lewis, Harris and North Uist
South Uist Machair relation 9201859
St Kilda relation 9258472
The Trossachs within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Upper Tweeddale
Wester Ross

Wikipedia link: Category:National scenic areas of Scotland


How to tag AONBs has been a source of some dispute. The Cotswold AONB was initially tagged as follows.

type=boundary + boundary=national_park + name=*

However this has been considered by some to be inappropriate as it fails to differentiate national parks from AONBs.

All AONBs now use boundary=protected_area, rather than boundary=national_park, with protect_class=5 as well as designation=area_of_outstanding_natural_beauty and protection_title=area_of_outstanding_natural_beauty

NSAs to be tagged similarly: boundary=protected_area, designation=national_scenic_area, protect_class=5 and protection_title=national_scenic_area