Wistman's Wood

Wistman’s Wood, Dartmoor National Park, Devon

,Wistman’s Wood is one of three high-altitude oakwoods on Dartmoor. The wood is mainly made up of dwarfed oak trees growing through the gaps in moss-covered boulders. The branches of these trees are contorted and often lay across the boulders and are covered in moss and lichen. Giving the wood a mystical feel.

Thought to be the last remnants of a forest that once covered all of Dartmoor, with this particular patch being around 500 years old. The wood is also said to be home to a large population of adders.

Nik and I have wanted to go visit Wistman’s wood for years but always found something else to see. As travel is limited at the moment, we decided that there’s no better time. The day started out in a deep fog. So we had a lazy beginning before deciding it would probably help with the atmosphere of the wood. This did mean, however, that by the time we drove there we wouldn’t have time for a long day of walking. So we chose to park at the closest point on this occasion.

Wistman's Wood

There is a small parking area opposite the Two Bridges Hotel. Once that’s filled, most people just park on the verges. When open you can also park at the hotel for a small fee which can be redeemed if you buy food or drink there. The hotel is a popular spot for refreshment as it not only has a good reputation it also has wonderful countryside surrounding it.

To walk to Wistman’s Wood you just need to follow the path beside the free car park. The route is so well walked you cannot fail to get there. It took us roughly half-hour to get to the wood. We did stop often for photos though.

There is a circular walk from the car park that takes you past the wood. Over two Tors and back to the car park. Said to take around two hours. As we had spent roughly three hours just wandering the wood taking photos we didn’t have time left in the day for a proper walk. 

You are walking on Dartmoor. The weather can change at the blink of an eye and the terrain can be wet, slippery and rocky. So we suggest that you take appropriate covering for all weathers and good footwear.

The mystical side of Wistman’s Wood.

Wistman’s Wood is said to have been one of the last remaining ancient Druid groves. Where they conducted rituals beneath the oaks and carved symbols into the moss-covered rocks.

The wood is said to be the kennels of the Wisht Hounds. Big black dogs, with red eyes and yellow fangs who hunger for human flesh. At night, led by the Devil, the Wisht Hounds hunt across the moors. This legend alone keeps the local population away from the wood at night.

The wood also has a reputation for being haunted by the dead who were once carried along ‘The Lych Way’ to their funerals. 

Also, the adders that live in this wood are said to have a Venum far more poisonous than any other on the moor. 

Unfortunately, we neither saw nor heard any of the above-mentioned phenomena whilst in the wood. I do know that there are moss strewn rocks growing in spirals in the wood, however, we forgot to look for them. We would absolutely, have loved to have come across an adder or two sunning itself. Of course, most of the time we were there it was foggy, which would have made that a bit difficult. 

We had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, wondering the wood and taking photographs. If you’re in the area we would highly recommend a visit. If like us you don’t have time for the full walk, the woods alone are worth the effort.

For more blogs about our adventures, click HERE

The days’ Photos
Click the images below to enlarge

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