This magical pocket of mixed woodland and heath is listed on the Ancient Woodland Inventory and is a delight to explore all year round.

Take a closer look

Just on the outskirts of the Dorset National Landscape, the 26 hectare mixed woodland and heath site is home to a great diversity of trees including mature Oaks, Sweet Chestnut and Beech and is well worth a visit.

The woodland gives way to Black Heath, an area of heath in restoration with its own herd of Dartmoor ponies. Rushy Pond 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.

Rushy Pond (c) Ian Metcalfe

Walk a little ... or a lot

Start your visit from the Hardy’s Birthplace Visitor Centre , which provides a gateway to the site and hosts displays, family activities, a ranger workshop, café, shop and toilet facilities.

Several recommended walking routes and fun activities for children are available on leaflets in the Visitor Centre or download some routes before you go.  Tramper hire is available Monday to Friday (advance booking is recommended). More information on Tramper hire here

This is the perfect place to bring a picnic, there’s plenty of benches and picnic tables to use, but as it’s a high fire risk area, no BBQs or campfires are allowed. Alternatively enjoy something delicious from Under the Greenwood Tree café in the Visitor Centre. This is an independent family business run by Dorchester-born Sarah Key and her daughter Lydia using local produce.

Dogs are welcome but please keep on a lead where asked to do so and it’s not an accessible site for cyclists or horse riders.

Tramper at Hardy's Birthplace (c) Neil Warren

Hardy's Cottage

The site is also adjacent to Hardy’s Cottage, birthplace of novelist and poet Thomas Hardy and now owned by the National Trust. 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’.

Look out for

Dormice, Smooth Snakes, Adders, Grass Snakes, Spotted Flycatchers, Marsh Tits, Nightjars, Ravens, Silver Studded Blues and Early Purple Orchids.