Set in the heart of Hardy Country, Dorset Councils Hardys Birthplace 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 Local Nature Reserve and is a short walk from Hardy's Cottage (owned by the National Trust), where he was born and lived until he was 34 years old.
The Local Nature Reserve, owned and managed by Dorset Council, is a 26 hectare mixed woodland and heathland site with a great diversity of trees including mature Oaks, Sweet Chestnut, Beech and a Hazel coppice. The woodland gives way to Black Heath, an area of birch, gorse and heathers with its own herd of Dartmoor ponies. Rushy Pond is a watering hole for bird life, mammals, and is home to many amphibians and damselflies/dragonflies. The site also has a Scheduled Ancient Monument in the form of a well preserved Roman Road. The landscape, pond and SAM are all documented in the poems and novels of Thomas Hardy, making it a great place for both nature lovers and literary folk.