Wistman's Wood – Devon, England - Atlas Obscura

Wistman's Wood

This tangled English forest looks like something right out of a fairytale. 


The moss-covered boulders, and twisted, ancient brambles of Wistman’s Wood are haunted by tales of druids, ghosts, and supernatural spooks. While that is all myth, it’s not hard to see why the forest is a magnet for such hokum.

Wistman’s Wood is an ancient forest that has largely been left to grow wild, free of destruction, or shaping by humans or large animals. This is largely due to the treacherous, rocky ground at the base of the trees which make it difficult to traverse. The large, moss-covered boulders create countless small crevasses and places to trip and fall. With unfettered growth the trees have grown old and gnarled. The rocks have stunted their height, and the crooked branches hang down in an oppressive canopy.

Given the evocative feel of the wood, it is no wonder that a number of supernatural tales have been attached to the forest. Many tales of ghosts and hauntings have been reported surrounding the wood, but the most prevalent myth revolves around hellhounds and druids. Legends tell of packs of fierce “Wisht Hounds,” huge black dogs with red eyes and a taste for blood. It is also a popular belief that the wood was a sacred place for druids to come and worship around the many impressive stones in the area. There are also tales of knots super-venomous adders waiting in between the rocks for foolish travelers to stumble upon.

Unfortunately, mystical beasts and nature wizards only exist in stories. Yet Wistman’s Wood makes it seem so very possible that they could be real.

Please note that due to the extreme number of tourists during the COVID pandemic, the woods suffered extensive damage, and it is no longer allowed to enter them. instead walking routes take around the edge of the woods, so you can still admire their beauty.

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