Lorton Meadows Nature Reserve & Conservation Centre
A haven of peaceful green meadows, hedgerows and woodland, this reserve offers a chance to experience some fabulous wildlife right in the middle of town.
Lorton Meadows are a collection of unimproved fields enclosed by thick hedgerows and small copses nestling in the Lorton Valley, just a stones throw from the residential areas of Littlemoor, Upwey and Weymouth. As well as colourful, and some quite rare, wildflowers the reserve is particularly good for birds of hedgerow, scrub and grassland, and provides excellent foraging and flight lines for bats. The meadows and hedgerows are full of insect life, with butterflies, moths, bugs, beetles, dragonflies and grasshoppers all to be found on a sunny summers day. Lorton Meadows forms an almost continous green lung alongside the RSPB's Radipole and Lodmoor Nature Reserves which together form the Lorton Valley Nature Park. This corridor of habitat helps to increase the value of all the sites and gives visitors plenty to explore.
Conservation Centre opening times
From October to March the Conservation Centre and toilets are open to visitors during scheduled events, and for school visits, group bookings and room hire. From April to September the Centre is open 10am-5pm Wednesday - Sunday during school term time, and 10am-5pm Tuesday - Sunday during school summer holidays
The Centre includes wildlife displays, wildlife webcams (barn owl & great tit - during breeding season) and kestrel on TV screen plus a selection of wildlife books and gifts for sale in our small shop. The Outdoor Classroom, picnic area and children's wildlife play-trail are available for visitors to use at all times.
Family Events Programme
Join us for Caterpillar Kids activities on selected weekends and during school holidays, or explore the reserve on a guided walk – there really is something for everyone! All activities are themed around Lorton’s wildlife – for more information, see our events pages.
Whether it's searching for minibeasts, pond dipping or identifying trees, we have a range of learning opportunites for Key Stage 1- 4, that can be tailored to suit individual groups. Download our education opportunities leaflet then contact us to discuss your requirements. For A Level or Higher Education groups please contact us on 01305 816546.
Help make a difference to your local wildlife by volunteering: you could join us fortnightly for our Volunteer Conservation Tasks, assist us in the Centre or survey butterflies, wildflowers, invertebrates, reptiles or birds across the reserve. Please contact us on 01305 816546 to discover more.
By car take A354 Dorchester to Weymouth road. Take the 1st exit at the first roundabout, and 3rd exit at the second roundabout to go over the bridge over the main road. At the traffic lights turn left and take the 3rd left onto Lorton Lane. Continue to the end of the lane. Cycle path access from Dorchester, Weymouth or Upwey Station with cycle racks available at the centre.
The markers on the map below show the entrance to Lorton Lane from the B3159, and the Lorton Meadows Conservation Centre and car park, as well as the extent of the reserve (red line).
Access and safety
Access to the meadows is via field, bridle or kissing gates. There are regularly walked but unsurfaced tracks through the meadows, including marked nature trails, with visitors also free to make their own way between the fields, however the ground may be rough and even in places and can be muddy underfoot in wet weather. In windy weather please avoid the woodlands.
There are several small ponds scattered across the site and a larger pond by the visitor centre. There may be cows with calves on site from spring through to autumn - keep your distance and observe any signs. Please take precautions against ticks. See our general Visitor Information page for more advice.
Species and habitats
Hay meadow and pasture, hedgerows, woodland, ponds.
Barn owl, bullfinch, kestrel, song thrush, Cetti's warbler, marbled white and common blue butterfly, emperor dragonfly, fox, slow-worm, early purple orchid, bee orchid, corky-fruited water-dropwort.
Nearby nature reserves
Nature reserve map
Contains derived data © Crown copyright and database right 2012.Ordnance Survey LA100019790.
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