Amazing views

"...it is the multitude of different views that is the real wonder of the AONB."

Farmed landscape

"...farmed landscape is very important."

Inspirational

"...villages and towns illuminate the rich legacy of South Devon."

AONB project launch

Jonathan Dimbleby on life in the AONB

Local resident, Jonathan Dimbleby has been the patron of South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) since our 50th anniversary in 2010. He tells us about his passion for this special landscape and it’s importance to him and the people who live, work and visit here.

How long have you and your family had connections with the AONB?

I first became involved with the AONB as President of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) in the '90s. CPRE had played a critical role in establishing the first AONBs across England.

As a keen agriculturalist do you have any wishes for the farmed landscape of the AONB?

I think the farmed landscape is very important but how it is farmed matters greatly. The protection of hedgerows, water courses and the sustainability of farming practices is very important. I look at our farming landscape in Devon and hope that what has been protected by family farms will not fade away under the acute pressure that farmers face. As an environmentalist who supports renewable energy, I nonetheless worry about the number and scale of 'solar farms' that are proliferating in our county.

What would your ideal day out in the AONB involve?

A long walk, probably alone, with a chance to think and drink in the atmosphere and to observe the changing seasons.

What can be done to ensure the area and other ‘protected landscapes’ remains special for future generations?

AONB's need to be ruthlessly defended, allowing appropriate and sustainable development but always with the knowledge that the decisions made today will permanently shape tomorrow. The resources available to those who defend the AONB are pitiful. This means the task remains pressing but is more difficult than ever to achieve.

Over the centuries, the South Devon landscape has inspired poets, authors, scientists and artists, many of whom have left a rich legacy of cultural associations – do you have a favourite?

I have no particular individual to cite but I think the wide variety of landscapes and seascapes, particularly of villages and towns, illuminate the rich legacy of South Devon.

How do you think the AONB can be promoted better to residents and visitors?

I believe that local media, hotels, guest houses and B&Bs should all be encouraged to promote the AONB whose existence is a major boost to the local and regional economy.

What’s your favourite view in the AONB?

I love the landscape along the coast looking back towards Start Bay from Start Point but it is the multitude of different views that is the real wonder of our AONB.

What’s your food heaven?

Supper: poached eggs from the chickens in my garden when they deign to lay.

Can you sum up the AONB in 3 words?

Beautiful, precious, threatened.