Hidden Haunted Woods – Wistman’s Woods Dartmoor

Wistman’s Woods is a supposedly haunted woods high up on Dartmoor. It’s known for its twisted branches of its dwarf oak trees. The woods are covered in moss and lichens. It was noted as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1964. 

In 1797 a local Reverend named Swete had this to say about the woods…

“It is hardly possible to conceive anything of the sort so grotesque as this wood appears”

I’m not sure why he thought it grotesque, it’s certainly not a word I would use to describe the woods. I’d use words like magical, enchanting or unusual.

Related Post: Our Devon Bucket List


The woods are close to The Two Bridges Hotel in Princetown. To get there you need to park in the car park opposite and follow the footpath away from the hotel. Follow the river and you’ll find the woods in front of you.

The walk takes about 15 minutes.

Wistman's Wood Dartmoor Devon

Wistman's Wood Dartmoor Devon

We took a picnic with us and sat in the middle of the woods. The kiddies made friends with some robins who were very interested in our sandwiches.

Wistman's wood devon


According to legend Wistman’s Woods was a meeting place for druids. It’s said that the locals won’t go near the woods after sunset as it’s haunted.

There is also talk of hounds that live in the trees with yellow eyes that hunt for victims at night.

Wistman's Woods Dartmoor

The woods have been the inspiration for numerous artists and poets including Nicholas Toms Carrington. He wrote the following…

Wistman's Woods - Dartmoor Devon How heavily

That old wood sleeps in the sunshine;- not a leaf

Is twinkling, not a wing is seen to move

Within it;- but, below, a mountain stream

Conflicting with the rocks is ever heard,

Cheering the drowsy noon. The Guardian Oaks,

My country, are thy boast – a giant race

And undegenerate still; but of this grove –

This pigmy grove, not one has climbed the air,

So emulously that its loftiest branch

May brush a traveller’s brow. The twisted roots

Have clasped, in search of nourishment, the rocks

And straggled wide, and pierced the stony soil:-

In vain, denied maternal succour, here

A dwarfish race has risen. Round the boughs,

Hoary and feeble, and around the trunks,

With grasp destructive, feeding on the life

That lingers yet, the ivy winds, and moss

Of growth enormous. E’en the dull vile weed

Has fixed itself upon the very crown

Of many an ancient oak; and thus, refused

By Nature kindly aid, – dishonour – old –

Dreary in aspect – silently decays

The Lonely Wood of Wistman!”

Water Gypsy

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