Located to the south of Bristol, the area includes the lakes of the Chew Valley and the western and central parts of the limestone ridge known as the Mendip Hills. The limestone landscape includes an open windswept plateau, wooded combes, steeply cut gorges and flower rich valleys. The area was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1972. The Mendip Hills AONB covering 198 sq kms is recognised as one of England's most attractive landscapes. The area rises up from the Somerset Levels providing dramatic views of the Severn Estuary and across Somerset.