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Wistman's Wood

One of the few remote high-altitude oakwoods that remain in England

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Wistman's Wood is dark and mystic, with moss-covered rocks and large old trees with twisted branches. No wonder it is haunted by many myths and local legends. The name may originate from the Devonshire dialect word "wisht" meaning eerie or uncanny. Wistman's Wood is one the highest oakwoods in England that hasn't changed for centuries and is almost untouched by humans. Wistman's is what's left from the ancient forest that covered Dartmoor in 7000 BC, before the Mesolithic era. Being an outstanding example of native upland oak woodland, it has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest since 1964.

Wistmans covers about 3.5 ha (9 acres). South-west facing slopes have large granite boulders and pockets of acidic brown earth soils. The area serves as a nature reserve, and many people visit via access from the southern end of South Wood. You can also spot cattle and sheep in open terrain areas. It also has a large population of adders.

Wistmans has inspired artists, poets, and photographers. It was described in The Tree, a 1978 essay by novelist John Fowles. Also, there are a lot of folklore tales. According to a local myth, it was a sacred place for druids and home to fierce “Wisht Hounds”—huge black dogs with red eyes.

Wistmans Wood can be visited year round. In winter and spring, the landscape is grey and more mysterious, while summer bursts with mesmerising green colours.

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