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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 heath in restoration with its own herd of Dartmoor ponies. Rushy Pond, famous from Thomas Hardy works, is home to amphibians and dragonflies and a hunting ground for resident grass snakes as well as being a watering hole for the ponies and other wildlife.

Running through the site is a well preserved Roman road. This Scheduled Ancient Monument, would have stretched from Dorchester to Badbury Rings. There are 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 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.

Habitats Woodland, heath and a pond
Site designations

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

Nearest bus stop A35 nr Dorchester or Kingston Maurward College - information about bus services
Nearest train station Dorchester South and West
Grid reference SY 725 921
Size 26 hectares
Parking Parking charges are £1 for 2 hours or £3 all day. NT and Blue Badge holders exempt on display of permits. Annual Parking permits are available at the Rangers' Office.
Accessibility Open Access area. No cycling or horse riding
Other activities in area

Hardy's Cottage

Owner Dorset County Council
Managed by Dorset County Council (Area Greenspace Management Team - West)

How to get there

For specific directions, go to the Visiting Hardys Birthplace page, . 

Or see the following map to Hardy's Birthplace Visitor Centre which sits at the entrance to the car park, with routes into Thorncombe Wood. 

Area Greenspace Manager (West) - Giles Nicholson

Name: Giles Nicholson
Email: g.nicholson@dorsetcc.gov.uk
Tel: 01258 456970
Full details for Area Greenspace Manager (West) - Giles Nicholson

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