National Character Area 74

Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire Wolds - Analysis: Landscape Attributes & Opportunities

Analysis supporting Statements of Environmental Opportunity

The following analysis section focuses on the landscape attributes and opportunities for this NCA.

Further analysis on ecosytem services for this NCA is contained in the Analysis: Ecosytem Services section.

Landscape attributes


The drift and solid geology of the area help to produce a moderately fertile soil, which has lead to agricultural land dominating the land use with arable farming on the plateaux tops and pasture on steep sloping valley sides.

Justification for selection:

  • The predominance of boulder clay underlain by mudstones produces a soil profile that is lime-rich, loamy and clayey resulting in moderately fertile land suitable for arable farming, especially on the broad plateaux. Food production is an important service to the area with extensive areas of arable farming on the plateaux with sheep grazing on the steep slopes of the valleys.
  • Commercial agriculture has resulted in the loss of some field boundaries, unimproved grassland, ridge and furrow features and a general reduction in biodiversity.


The field pattern is large to medium sized and is commonly bounded by well managed hedgerows displaying the rectilinear pattern of 18th- and 19th-century enclosures. Mature hedgerow trees are characteristic of the area.

Justification for selection:

  • The field pattern, formed as a result of historic land uses, contributes to the cultural history.
  • Hedgerows and ageing hedgerow trees reinforce the field patterns.
    Woodland cover is generally sparse, except for some wooded scarps and in the Wreake Valley and adjacent to Rutland Water. Elsewhere, spinneys, fox coverts, hedgerows, hedgerow trees and streamside trees provide moderate cover.
  • Predominant tree species include ash, oak and sycamore with white willow and crack willow in wetland areas.
  • The area has a strong hunting tradition and many small copses, coverts and spinneys planted in the 19th century have survived as a legacy of historic land use.


Neutral grassland is the most common type of unimproved grassland and it is often associated with ancient ridge and furrow markings and characterised by a rich flora.

Justification for selection:

  • The presence of ancient ridge and furrow markings contributes to the cultural history formed as a result of historic land uses.


Rutland Water reservoir and nature reserve covers an area of 1,200 ha and often supports in excess of 20,000 waterfowl.

Justification for selection:

  • The reserve is of international significance and this is recognised in its designations as a Special Protection Area and Ramsar site. It comprises extensive sheets of open water with a complex of wetland and lakeside habitats, including lagoons, islands, mudflats, reedswamp, marsh, old meadows, pastures, scrub and mature woodland. Rutland Water reservoir was constructed in the 1970s and is now a highly distinctive feature of the area and is a valued asset for recreation and its contribution to the visitor economy of the local area.
  • By surface area, it is the largest reservoir in England and is a major source of public water supply.


Settlement patterns and buildings constructed from local building stone.

Justification for selection:

  • There is evidence of many deserted and shrunken settlements and separate small villages and farms linked by country lanes with wide verges.
  • Red brick buildings are widespread and most abundant clustered around churches constructed from ironstone and limestone contributing to the local vernacular.

Landscape opportunities

  • Manage the areas of neutral grassland, the most common type of unimproved grassland that is threatened by agricultural practices. The neutral grassland is often associated with ancient ridge and furrow patterns and characterised by a rich flora; a valuable habitat and an important historic asset and educational feature.
  • Manage and plan to extend the network of hedgerows. The existing field pattern is commonly bounded by hedgerows displaying the rectilinear pattern of 18th- and 19th-century enclosures which could be threatened by commercial agriculture. Plan to augment the over-mature hedgerow trees that are a distinctive feature.
  • Protect the Rutland Water reservoir and nature reserve. The reserve is of international significance and this is recognised in its designations as a Special Protection Area and Ramsar site. It comprises many diverse habitats and also contributes to the visitor economy of the area. The reserve is also home to a successful osprey re-introduction project.
  • Manage and conserve the predominant tree species that include ash, oak, sycamore and white willow and crack willow in wetland areas. Consider successional planting to conserve the tree canopy in existing woodland.
  • Conserve the vernacular of existing settlements. Plan sympathetically any new development by setting out in established patterns and using traditional building materials.