Alners Gorse, Dorset

Alners Gorse

Species to look out for

Alners Gorse is a wonderful remnant of the once-extensive commons of north Dorset


The reserve’s habitats are being restored after many years of neglect, through scrub control, removal of unwanted trees and grazing with Dartmoor ponies. It is an extremely rich site for all sorts of wildlife, especially butterflies and moths. The grassland is being restored to enable the Marsh Fritillary butterfly to re-colonise from nearby sites.

Area: 14.4 hectares


Map Reference: ST 737 103 Ordnance Survey Map: 194

The reserve entrance lies on the north side of the road between Hazelbury Bryan and Kings Stag, just by the village and speed limit signs for Hazelbury. Parking is limited to a small roadside lay-by about 100m towards Kings Stag.

Public transport

Two bus service routes cover the road between Kings Stag and Hazelbury Bryan:  

  • 323 Damory Coaches Dorchester to Sturminster Newton (Mondays)  
  • 368 Damory Coaches / X10 Wilts and Dorset: Yeovil to Blandford (week days)
  • For timetable details contact the operators

Notable nearby sites

Lydlinch Common, Deadmoor Common

Site access and safety

The reserve is accessed from the road through a pedestrian kissing gate, and there is a moderate grassy slope down from the entrance into the reserve. This slope and uneven ground conditions limit the accessibility of this reserve to the less able. Ground conditions can become very difficult for all in many places when it is wet. Visitors with mobility difficulties who would like to access the reserve can contact the warden for special arrangements.

There are no Public Footpaths or Bridleways across the site, but it is open at all times to visitors on foot. The gateway in the northern boundary of the reserve gives access to the Drove - a Bridleway that is part of an extensive local Rights of Way network. However, this low-lying area can be flooded after heavy rain.

Please do not attempt to approach or feed the ponies - they are working animals and can be upset by dogs. Please keep your dog on a lead to not disturb wildlife, grazing animals and other visitors.

Please be aware that management work such as tree felling may prevent access to parts of the site at certain times.

Please also be aware that ticks and adders are present on site. Most ticks are little more than an irritation, but a few can transmit Lyme disease; a rare and potentially serious illness which is treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early. It is therefore important to be informed and take some simple precautions

Ground conditions can become very difficult in places when it is wet. Please do not attempt to approach or feed the Fell ponies - they are working animals and can be upset by dogs. Please keep your dog on a lead.


Nigel Spring, Dorset Branch Reserves Manager - tel: 01963 23559 or 07981 776 767 (mobile)