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Thorncombe Wood Local Nature Reserve

This magical pocket of mixed woodland and heath is listed on the Ancient Woodland Inventory.

The 26 hectare mixed woodland and heath site is home to a great diversity of trees including mature Oaks, Sweet Chestnut and Beech. The woodland gives way to Black Heath, an area of birch, bracken and heath with its own herd of Dartmoor ponies. Rushy Pond is a small watering hole for many birds, mammals, damselflies and dragonflies.

Running through the site is a well preserved Roman road. This Scheduled Ancient Monument, would have stretched from Dorchester to Badbury Rings. There are a lots of paths to explore both the site and further afield using the local rights of way to Puddletown Forest and Dorchester.


Thomas Hardy's childhood landscape

The site is also adjacent to Hardy's Cottage, birthplace of novelist and poet Thomas Hardy. Black Heath is now a small fragment of the once famous Hardy's Egdon Heath and Rushy Pond is mentioned in 'The Withered Arm'. Visitors, wildlife enthusiasts, families and dog walkers are all encouraged to follow in Hardy's footsteps and explore the land that he portrayed in his novels such as 'The Woodlanders' and 'Return of the Native'.

The new Hardys Birthplace Visitor Centre provides a gateway to the site and hosts displays, family activities, a ranger workshop, café, shop and toilet facilities. Several recommended routes and fun activities for children are available on leaflets in the visitor centre.

Nearest TownDorchester
Look out for

Dormice, Common Lizards, Adders and Grass Snakes. Song Thrushes, Marsh Tits, Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Dartford Warblers and Nightjars. Scare Hoverfly.

HabitatsWoodland, heath and a pond
Site designations

Ancient Woodland Inventory, Local Nature Reserve, Scheduled Ancient Monument, Site of Nature Conservation Interest

Nearest bus stopA35 nr Dorchester or Kingston Maurward College - information about bus services
Nearest train stationDorchester (Both) - information about train services
Grid referenceSY 725 921
Size26 hectares
ParkingOn the site
AccessibilityOpen Access area. No cycling or horse riding
Other activities in area

Hardy's Cottage (opens in a new window)

OwnerDorset County Council
Managed byDorset County Council (Area Greenspace Management Team - West)

How to get there

For directions, go to the Visiting Hardys Birthplace page.

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