National Character Area 89

Northamptonshire Vales - Key Characteristics

  • An open landscape of gently undulating clay ridges and valleys with occasional steep scarp slopes. There is an overall visual uniformity to the landscape and settlement pattern.

  • Diverse levels of tranquillity, from busy urban areas to some deeply rural parts.

  • Mixed agricultural regime of arable and pasture, with arable land tending to be on the broader, flat river terraces and smaller pastures on the slopes of many minor valleys and on more undulating ground.

  • Relatively little woodland cover but with a timbered character derived largely from spinneys and copses on the ridges and more undulating land, and from waterside and hedgerow trees and hedgerows, though the density, height and pattern of hedgerows are varied throughout.

  • A strong field pattern of predominantly 19th-century and – less frequently – Tudor enclosure.

  • Distinctive river valleys of the Welland and the Nene, with flat flood plains and gravel terraces together with their tributaries (including the Ise). Riverside meadows and waterside trees and shrubs are common, along with flooded gravel pits, open areas of winter flooded grassland, and wetland mosaics supporting large numbers of wetland birds and wildfowl.

  • Frequent large settlements that dominate the open character of the landscape, such as Northampton and Wellingborough, and associated infrastructure, including major roads, often visually dominant.

  • Frequent small towns and large villages often characterised by red brick buildings and attractive stone buildings in older village centres and eastern towns and villages. Frequent imposing spired churches are also characteristic, together with fine examples of individual historic buildings.

  • Relatively frequent, prominent historic parklands and country houses towards the outer edges and close to more wooded areas. Other characteristics include ridge and furrow and nationally important townships such as Sutton Bassett and Clipston.

  • Localised high concentrations of threshing barns and high status timberframed farm buildings from the 18th century or earlier.