Walking Places: Wistman’s Wood

Wistman’s Wood is a scrap of surviving ancient woodland that you can find near Two Bridges, Dartmoor. It is hidden 30 minutes walk up a steep sided valley. The trees are oaks, twisted and miniaturised by the rocky clitter upon which they have slowly grown. The tallest is seven metres high.

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Similar woodland used to cover most of the moor and the UK, but beginning in the Neolithic Period, man’s activities have cleared the entire landscape. Wistman’s Wood has survived due to a trick of location, the useless, warped wood of the trees, and the fact that it has been viewed as a curio since the 16th century.

Standing between these stunted oaks it is easy to imagine it was once a spiritual place, a world in micro, full of mythic faeries and magical beasts. Sadly these worlds are now more often seen through a Hollywood lens than found in reality.

Recorded on Dartmoor, South West England, in March 2012.

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