Visiting Hardy's Birthplace
Visitor Centre closed during lockdown
Our Visitor Centre and the National Trust run shop are currently closed. The toilets will be accessible during café opening hours and possibly at other times depending on Ranger staff availability.
Events are postponed until further notice.
Our award winning, fully accessible Visitor Centre has informative displays and an interactive interpretation screen with a nest box cam as well as a café, National Trust shop, toilet facilities and Visitor Welcome desk.
- March-October open 7 days a week
- November-February open Thursday-Sunday
- for ticket prices and opening times, visit the National Trust
Hardy Trail leaflet: Enjoy a walk around Thorncombe Wood and Black Heath to explore Hardy's childhood 'playground'.
Discovery Trail leaflet: Go on a scavenger hunt and try to ﬁnd the objects we've listed on the leaves.
Thorncombe Wood Walkabouts: A selection of routes to explore around the landscape that Thomas Hardy grew up in and was inspired by.
How to get there
Located 5 kilometres to the north-east of Dorchester (postcode DT2 8QH)
From Dorchester, follow the B3150 east towards Poole and Blandford. Just after Greys Bridge and before the B3143 towards Piddlehinton, take the way marked bridleway to Lower Bockhampton. At the end of the bridleway, turn left over the river and through the village to the crossroads. Cross straight over following the sign to Hardy's Cottage and up the small hill to Higher Bockhampton. This route follows just over 2 miles of beautiful bridleway and quite rural lanes. Other cycle links from Dorchester and Puddletown using the local bridleway network and quiet roads are also available.
There are local public footpath links from Dorchester (a series of ROW and permissive paths can be seen on the OS Map OL 15). Why not enjoy a ' Park and Stride' from Kingston Maurward College?
From the east, turn off the A35 east of Dorchester at the Higher Bockhampton junction. From the west/Dorchester town centre, use Kingston Maurward College roundabout on A35 and first left after the College entrance.
Coach parking and drop off are not allowed in the car park.
Information for coach drivers
- drop off only - please access Hardy's Cottage and Birthplace via Cuckoo Lane at the Lower/Higher Bockhampton junction off A35. The junction at the end/start of dual carriage way east of Dorchester. The Highway 'Cuckoo Lane' is restricted to allow drop off only. No coaches are allowed to wait/park on Cuckoo Lane. Highway restriction signs are in place at both ends of Cuckoo Lane.
- coach parking is available for £20 for 3 hours at at Hampton Farm Business Park opposite the track to Hardy's Birthplace Cottage and Visitor Centre. Please book in advance by contacting Mike Jones on 07798 500120. Alternatively there is a lay by with coach spaces on the A35 between the Kingston Maurward roundabout and the Lower/Higher Bockhampton Junction but these are on a first come first served basis.
Car parking charges now apply: £1 for 2 hours / £3 all day
No charge for Blue Badge holders on display of a valid permit
No charge for National Trust members visiting Hardy's Cottage on receipt of car registration details in Visitor Centre
Annual permits available via the Rangers' Office 01305 251228
- the small car park is beyond the Visitor Centre and is for cars and motorcycles ONLY. Please park in the marked bays.
- disabled parking bay available near the Visitor Centre (please display Blue Badge) and by Hardy's Cottage (with advance notice).
- do not park in passing places along Cuckoo Lane.
For more information about the Hardy's Birthplace Visitor Centre and Thorncombe Wood Local Nature Reserve, contact the Hardy's Birthplace team.