Wistmans Wood, Dartmoor – Magical and Mysterious

Wistman’s Wood was likely a left-over from the ancient forest that covered much of Dartmoor c. 7000 BC, before Mesolithic hunter/gatherers cleared it around 5000 BC. This wood is one of only three remote high-altitude oakwoods left on Dartmoor. The other two are Black Tor Beare, on the West Okement and Piles Copse on the River Erme.

The name of Wistman’s Wood may derive from the dialect word ‘wisht’ meaning ‘eerie/uncanny’. The legendary Wild Hunt in Devon is particularly associated with Wistman’s Wood and the hellhounds, which are known as Yeth or Wisht Hounds in the Devonshire dialect.

We parked at a small car park across the road from Two Bridges Hotel on the B3357 and walked over rough-ish ground for about 30 minutes. The views up and down the valley in which the West Dart river runs are stunning and at this time of year have an amazing Autumn colour. As you enter the woods it feels like you’re stepping into the past,the floor of the wood comprises solely of a jumble of lichen and moss covered boulders with Ancient gnarled oak growing between them, it gave the area an otherworldly feel and it felt like you were being watched as you wandered through the rocks. We made our way to the bottom of the woods and sat by the river for a while before making our way back to the carpark.

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