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The term ‘Weald’ is given to the area between the North and South Downs which are the outer chalk rims of the ancient Wealden anticline.
The sandstones and clays of the exposed centre of the dome, the ‘High Weald’ give rise to a hilly, broken and remote country of ridges and valleys covered by a patchwork of fields, woods and shaws. In contrast, open areas of the AONB include Ashdown Forest and, to the east, the river valleys of the Rother, Brede and Tillingham. The AONB meets the coast at Hastings.
The character of the High Weald was established by the 14th century and has survived major historical events and social and technological changes. As a result the High Weald is considered to be one of the best surviving, coherent medieval landscapes in Northern Europe.
The 5 key components of the High Weald that make up the area’s natural beauty are its;
Agriculture is important to the rural economy and includes dairying, mixed farming and horticulture. Forestry remains a traditional Wealden industry. There are no major settlements but the major growth of urban areas such as Tunbridge Wells, Crawley, Horsham and London has resulted in a high proportion of commuter population in the AONB villages.
The AONB is an important visitor destination for the South East and local authority policy encourages appropriate development of tourism and recreation.