Kingcombe Visitor Centre

Kingcombe Visitor Centre

Harriet Webb / Kingcombe Visitor Centre 

Kingcombe NNR

James Burland

Kingcombe Visitor Centre signage

Hazel Ormrod / Kingcombe Visitor Centre signage 

Coronation Meadow

Hazel Ormrod / Coronation Meadow 

River Hooke

Hazel Ormrod / River Hooke 

Kingcombe Visitor Centre

James Burland / Kingcombe Visitor Centre 

Kingcombe Visitor Centre

The telephone lines are now working at Kingcombe Visitor Centre and the Kitchen at Kingcombe,

Set amidst winding country lanes, delightful rivers and superb, unspoilt countryside, Kingcombe Visitor Centre is a place to relax and be inspired. Spend some time exploring our wildlife-friendly gardens, orchards, bird hide and the boardwalk along the edge of the tranquil River Hooke.

Kingcombe Visitor Centre is the gateway to the stunning Kingcombe National Nature Reserve, incorporating Kingcombe Meadows and Powerstock Common nature reserves, where you can enjoy exploring the unspoilt countryside and ancient woodland. The nature reserves are always open for visitors but please check below for the Visitor Centre and The Kitchen at Kingcombe opening times.

Location

Kingcombe Visitor Centre, Lower Kingcombe, Toller Porcorum,
Dorchester
Dorset
DT2 0EQ

View on What3Words

A static map of Kingcombe Visitor Centre

Know before you go

z

Entry fee

N/A
P

Parking information

We have two car parks. One is immediately adjacent to the Visitor Centre Barn and further parking 50 metres up the road at Pound Cottage (turn left out of main carpark and first left). Access the Visitor Centre via the garden.

Bicycle parking

Yes, a free standing bicycle rack with space for 4 bikes

Grazing animals

Livestock graze the reserve all year around. Please get advice from the staff at the centre on arrival about the location of grazing animals and always keep your distance.

Walking trails

Enjoy the footpaths which take you around the grounds of the visitor centre via the orchard, wildlife gardens, pond, bird hide and the boardwalk to the river. You are welcome to wander freely out onto the wider nature reserve taking care not to disturb wildlife or grazing animals. There are two marked walking trails starting at  Kingcombe Visitor Centre. The shorter of the trails, (the purple route) is the easier of the two and takes approximately half an hour. The orange trail, which is slightly more challenging, takes approximately 45 mins. Both can be joined up to make a longer walk. Parts of the trails can be wet and muddy so please wear appropriate footwear.  The nature reserve is also part of our working farm and so livestock may be grazing. Ticks are present throughout the year so please be sure to check yourself. To plan your walk, simply drop into the visitor centre and collect a leaflet to guide you. 

Access

There is disabled parking available outside the centre, and a disabled toilet inside the centre. There are also toilets accessible outside at the back of Swallow Barn. The visitor centre itself is wheelchair-accessible via the café, and the boardwalk is suitable for wheelchairs and mobility vehicles. 

How to find us: From Dorchester, take the A37 towards Yeovil. Turn onto the A356 towards Crewkerne. Continue through the village of Maiden Newton. At the top of the hill, turn left, signposted to Toller Porcorum. Turn right in the village, signposted Lower Kingcombe and Hooke. The Kingcombe Visitor Centre is one mile along this road on your right.

Dogs

On a lead

Please keep your dogs on leads at all times whilst on the nature reserve and visiting Kingcombe Visitor Centre

i

Facilities

Visitor centre
Bird hides
Toilets
Shop
Cafe/refreshments
Picnic area
Accessible toilet
Baby changing facilities
Wifi
Disabled parking

When to visit

Opening times

The Kingcombe Visitor Centre is open 10am - 4pm seven days a week until further notice.

The reserve is always open and accessible to all visitors.

The Kitchen at Kingcombe cafe is open Wednesday to Friday between 10:30am - 3pm, and Saturday to Sunday between 10:30am - 3:30pm.

Please see The Kitchen at Kingcombe Facebook page for up to date opening times.

Best time to visit

All year round. The Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve surrounding the centre has something to offer wildlife enthusiasts all year round, and each season holds different delights on the nature reserve, with May/June being peak wildflower meadow season.

About the reserve

Kingcombe Visitor Centre is a great place to visit whether you’re looking to get away from it all and escape into nature for a day or a weekend! For a day visit, enjoy exploring the areas surrounding the centre, including the wildlife gardens, orchards, bird hide and boardwalk, or perhaps take a longer stroll on the 450-acre nature reserve surrounding the centre. Kingcombe Visitor Centre is the gateway to the wonderful natural world that sits in the heart of the stunning landscapes in West Dorset, and it provides a place of tranquillity, with a true feeling of being able to get away from it all and relax. 

New access signage and interpretation panels have been installed at the Kingcombe Visitor Centre thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and players of The National Lottery which funded the Explore West Dorset project to improve access to Kingcombe and the beautiful west Dorset countryside.

FThe hedgerows, fields and hay meadows that surround the centre remain pretty much as they were when Queen Victoria came to the throne and are almost untouched by artificial fertilisers and pesticides. As a result, they are home to a huge array of wildlife, some common and easy to see, others rarely found elsewhere in the UK.

For a longer stay, there’s a variety of accommodation options at Kingcombe, including a traditional roadworkers' hut and the stunning self-contained Beech and Pound Cottages on site, or stay in the Cowshed, an 11 bedroom lodge perfect for larger groups, located opposite the visitor centre. See below for more information. 

#opening-times

Kingcombe Visitor Centre opening times

The Kingcombe Visitor Centre is open from 10am - 4pm seven days a week until further notice.

Kitchen at Kingcombe

The Kitchen at Kingcombe cafe is open Wednesday to Friday between 10:30am - 3pm, and Saturday to Sunday between 10:30am - 3:30pm, and offers the perfect spot for coffee and cake or a light lunch. The delicious menu includes snacks and light bites such as eggs benedict or sandwiches as well as more substantial lunches such as homity pie with salad or thick cut ham, eggs and bubble & squeak. Alternatively, you can enjoy a coffee or tea with homemade scones and cakes. Come and visit the Kitchen at Kingcombe soon!

Here's the Kitchen at Kingcombe Menu - please note that the menu is subject to change depending on what is in season.

Please note that occasionally the Kitchen at Kingcombe will be closed due to severe weather conditions. You can visit the Kitchen at Kingcombe Facebook page for up to date opening times. 

Courses and workshops

Are you looking to learn a new skill alongside like-minded people, whilst reconnecting with nature? We have a fantastic range of courses and workshops held at the Kingcombe Visitor Centre, perfect for nature enthusiasts aged 18 and over. Running throughout the year, you can choose from a range of activities including botanical and wildlife identification, nature-themed crafts and practical conservation skills in a relaxed, fun atmosphere led by knowledgeable tutors and guides. Browse our full list of courses and workshops here. 

 

Volunteer at Kingcombe

Would you like to get outside more, connect with nature, meet new friends and learn new skills? Why not join our volunteer team helping with our wildlife and kitchen gardens here at Kingcombe? 

Although gardening knowledge is welcomed, it doesn’t matter if you're not an experienced gardener.  The main thing is that you enjoy being outside and are willing to give it a go. There’s always a variety of seasonal activities for all abilities such seed sowing, weeding, harvesting and working as a team to develop the centre grounds to encourage visitors to learn about the amazing wildlife on our doorstep. 

Volunteering can help you to towards an active lifestyle, make new friends, learn new skills and feel satisfied in the knowledge that you're providing an invaluable service for the centre and the Dorset Wildlife Trust as a whole. 

If you are interested in volunteering at Kingcombe please register centrally via volunteering@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk.

Find out more about volunteering opportunities for Dorset Wildlife Trust 

Volunteers at work at Kingcombe Visitor Centre

Matt Harcourt 

Hire the Swallow Barn

Looking for a unique, comfortable and well equipped venue for your meeting, event, course or class? Kingcombe is the perfect place! The Kingcombe Visitor Centre, as the gateway to the Kingcombe National Nature Reserve, incorporating Kingcombe Meadows and Powerstock Common, is surrounded by beautiful orchards, meadows and woodland. As well as the Visitor Centre, the grounds boast a bird hide, boardwalk, wildlife gardens and a cafe, where your delegates, participants or students can work, create and learn in a tranquil and relaxed environment. The reserves beyond the grounds offer a variety of wildlife habitats, perfect to explore as part of your visit or at the end of a busy day.

Within the grounds you'll find Swallow Barn, a bright an airy space that can accommodate up to 30 people in either a meeting, audience or classroom set up. Hire of Swallow Barn includes the use of all tables and chairs, use of our projector and av facilities, Wi-Fi access and wash stations as well as tea and coffee making facilities. The space is flexible and comfortable, with bi-fold doors that open up onto a small patio area with seating, perfect for sharing refreshments or as a small break out space in good weather. 

Our on-site cafe - The Kitchen at Kingcombe - can supply refreshments for the whole day including mid-morning and afternoon snacks, lunch and supper, or if you prefer, just tea, coffee and cake.

Wanting to stay overnight or host a residential course? Our on-site lodge, The Cowshed, can accommodate up to 13 people in 11 rooms (single occupancy) or up to 21 people when sharing. The cafe can also provide on-site catering for your group for the duration of your stay (minimum group size of eight people).

Who can we host? We also look to welcome a variety of different groups here at Kingcombe, including schools, universities and colleges; special interest groups; walking and wildlife groups; creative societies; Scout, Guides and youth groups and corporate partners, as well as family and friend groups. 

Whether you visit for work, for a course or for a private event, your contribution will go towards funding vital conservation work to protect Dorset's wildlife.

If you would like more information or to discuss a booking, please call us on 01300 320684 or email kingcombe@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk

The Swallow Barn

Harriet Webb / The Swallow Barn

The Swallow Barn

Harriet Webb / The Swallow Barn 

Accommodation at Kingcombe

Escape to nature surrounded by the very best of Dorset’s wildlife where you can experience the rare freedom to roam undisturbed in this natural landscape.  Surrounded by 450 acres of the Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve in west Dorset, we can provide accommodation in the Cowshed, self-contained holiday cottages - Beech Cottage and Pound Cottage, or the Living Van, our refurbished roadworkers' hut where you can wake to the sound of birdsong and feel closer to nature. 

Living Van

Snuggle up in the Living Van with its cosy woodburner for a taste of the outdoors while you drift off to sleep to the gentle sounds of the night. Tucked away in the heart of the Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve in west Dorset, our Living Van offers a truly special getaway. Once providing shelter for road workers, this stunning van has had a makeover, providing a cosy double/twin bed, log stove and electricity to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep before waking to the sound of birdsong. 

Guests have use of their own bathroom in a nearby building, a private deck area and a firepit to roast some marshmallows! Pets are welcome too and there’s space for a tent outside.

Prices from £75 per night. 

Book the Living Van on Airbnb

If you would like to speak to someone before you book, please phone 01300 320684.

Please note the Living Van is open seasonally between April and September. 

Orchard hut by Emma Jones
Living Van in Kingcombe by Lee Gillham
Orchard Hut interior by Sally Welbourn
Orchard Hut interior by Sally Welbourn

Pound Cottage

Originally the pound keeper's cottage on the local estate, Pound Cottage is now a perfect retreat for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle. Situated near to the Kingcombe Visitor Centre, the cottage sleeps up to 3 and is a warm and cosy base from which to explore the acres of the Kingcombe National Nature Reserve and the surrounding area.

This characterful cottage boasts a log burner, exposed brickwork and original flagstone flooring and has been recently refurbished throughout.

To see more photos and book via Sykes Cottages:

Book now 

Pound Cottage

Harriet Webb / Pound Cottage 

Pound Cottage Living Room

Cowshed

Recharge with a good night's sleep in our comfortable rooms in the Cowshed. This group accommodation, located on the Kingcombe Visitor Centre site, is perfect for special interest, social, friends and family groups, education or training.  Please note that the Cowshed is currently undergoing renovations. We are however still taking bookings for June onwards. Email kingcombe@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk for more information and to check availability and prices.

Westgate Lodge by Debbie Billen

Beech Cottage

Beech Cottage is the perfect place to get away from it all, with a private garden, fully fitted kitchen, large lounge with woodburner, conservatory and five bedrooms (sleeps up to nine).

This self-contained cottage in Lower Kingcombe is set back from Kingcombe Road, at the end of a private drive. It has its own car park and with five bedrooms (four with ensuite bathroom) including a ground floor bedroom and separate bathroom suitable for disabled access. Dogs are welcome. Short breaks available.

Beech Cottage is part of the Kingcombe Visitor Centre run by Dorset Wildlife and is located in the heart of Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve. Staying at Beech Cottage offers guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in wildlife and the countryside and enjoy access to a variety of nature trails that explore this unique corner of Dorset. There are also opportunities to take part in self-led walks (maps provided!) and activities at the Kingcombe Visitor Centre.

To book or enquire about availability, visit Classic Cottages using the link below. 

Book through Classic Cottages now

Beech Cottage by Stewart Canham
Beech Living room by Classic Cottages

Events at Kingcombe

Made possible with NHLF logo