The Howardian Hills form a distinctive, roughly rectangular area of well-wooded undulating countryside rising, sometimes sharply, between the flat agricultural plains of Pickering and York.
Jurassic limestone gives the landscape its character and in effect, the irregular 180m ridges of the Howardian Hills are a southern extension of the rocks of the North York Moors. It contains a rich and intimate tapestry of wooded hills and valleys, pastures and rolling farmland, as well as dramatic views from the higher ground across the agricultural plains below. On the eastern edge, the river Derwent cuts through the Hills in the Kirkham Gorge, a deep winding valley which was formed as an overflow channel from glacial Lake Pickering.
The AONB contains no towns, although the market towns of Helmsley and Malton lie just beyond the boundary, but the area has many attractive stone-built, red pantile-roofed villages. The area is probably most famous as the setting for a number of fine country houses, whose parklands are an intrinsic part of the landscape value. Most notable is Vanbrugh's famous masterpiece, Castle Howard.
Combining high grade arable land, pasture and managed woodland, this is rich farming country whose very diversity creates its attractive rural character.
Howardian Hills AONB Unit, The Mews, Wath Court, Hovingham, York YO62 4NN
Tel: 0845 034 9495