Thorncombe Wood / Puddletown Forest / Duddle Heath / Black Heath
A selection of long distance routes to explore the landscape that Thomas Hardy grew up in and was inspired by. Thorncombe Wood, owned and managed by Dorset County Council, is a mixed broadleaf woodland reserve and is home to a great diversity of trees. The woodland gives way to Black Heath, an area of heather and gorse with Rushy Pond, a small watering hole for much wildlife.
Neighbouring Duddle Heath is a privately owned area of lowland heath which shares the benefit of having our herd of Dartmoor ponies graze the scrub, as they would have done in Hardy’s time.
Puddletown Forest is one of several conifer plantations which took over much of the Dorset heathland just after the war. Although mainly for commercial forestry, some heathland restoration is underway which will benefit the specialist heathland wildlife. Head up to the higher areas of the forest and you will be rewarded with fine views!
Set in the heart of Hardy Country, the Visitor Centre is a gateway for local people and visitors alike to discover more about the life and works of Thomas Hardy and the local landscape. It is located on the edge of Thorncombe Wood and is a great half way point and refreshment stop for longer routes exploring neighbouring Duddle Heath and Puddletown Forest.