3.1.1 The Carboniferous Limestone that underlies much of the Mendip ridge has given the area its distinctive landscape of rolling hills, gorges, lines of dry stone walls and attractive stone, settlements on the spring line. The area has a tangible sense of tranquillity and remoteness that are highly valued by those who choose to live here and the many visitors. At the highest points such as Black Down areas of sandstone, covered by heathland contrast with the limestone grassland and give variety to the landscape. Views out from the edge of the plateau and slopes are widely appreciated.
3.1.2 The gentler landscape of Chew Valley adds a further dimension. The two reservoirs of Blagdon Lake (built 1899) and Chew Valley Lake (built 1956), provide large expanses of water, set within a rich farmland landscape. The landscape has been strongly influenced by the activities of man from prehistoric times to the present. The plateau is rich in the remains of Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman activity including lead mining and dry stone walls mostly dating from the 18th and 19th century. Both farming and quarrying continue to change the landscape.
3.1.3 The Mendip Hills AONB Landscape Assessment (Countryside Commission 1998) identified 11 distinctive character areas (see map p11). Consideration of the landscape needs to take account of the special qualities that make each of these character areas.
3.1.4 In addition to this Natural England National Character Area profiles that cover the AONB (see 2.7.0), 141 Mendip Hills and 118 Bristol, Avon Valley and Ridges, need to be considered. Each profile includes a description of the natural and cultural features that shape these landscapes, current drivers for change and as working documents they draw on current evidence and knowledge of these landscapes.
3.1.5 There are many factors changing and bringing pressure on the Mendip Hills AONB landscape. Covered under other themes these include development pressures, changes in agriculture, increase in road traffic and recreation, loss of dark sky and the loss of landscape detail such as gruffy ground (remnants of shallow lead mining), rock outcrops and field boundaries. These need to be managed within and near the AONB boundary to ensure that the essential character and it setting is conserved and enhanced.