Enter Dartmoor’s Wistman’s Woods at your own peril, lest you come face to face with evil, warns RICK HALE
Taking a long leisure walk through the woods is a great way to clear a troubled mind and commune with the natural world.
The cool of a soft breeze rustling the leaves of the trees is one of the most peaceful things anyone could experience.
However, not all wooded areas are a place to find peace. Some forests have dark histories filled with mystery and terror.
Nightmares lurk among the trees and hide in its shadows. Dartmoor’s Wistman’s Woods is one such place. This ancient haunted forest is not for the faint of heart.
Ancient History of Wistman’s Woods
Along with Black Tor Beare and West Okement, Wistman’s Woods is one of three remote, high altitude wooded areas of Dartmoor.
Wistman’s Woods, has been mentioned by writers for several centuries. And due to its wide variety of mosses and lichens covering rocks and trees, Wistman’s Woods is considered to be of great scientific significance.
Experts believe Wistman’s Woods are what is left of a vast ancient forest dating back 7,000 years, when Mesolithic hunter/gatherers would have hunted wild game here.
Dartmoor, is a region of the United Kingdom that is steeped in ancient folklore. Many of its places are known to be haunted by vengeful ghosts, playful pixies and the devil himself.
So, it should come as no surprise this mystical wooded area that has been untouched by human hands would share in the region’s dark history.
Many writers have long considered Wistman’s Woods to be the most haunted place in Dartmoor.
Due to this reputation, few locals would dare to enter the woods after the sun goes down. They fear they might come face to face with something detrimental to the human soul.
Long before the early Christian missionaries set foot in Dartmoor, the woods were a sacred grove to the Druids.
It’s believed these ancient and mysterious priests gathered in this remote place to conduct their secretive rituals, far away from the eyes of people.
In the center of the woods is the Druid’s Stone, or Buller Stone. It is there they communed with the spirit realm and opened a doorway to the other side for apparitions to come and go at will.
The Wisht Hounds
Giant dogs with coats as black as night and eyes that burn with the fires of hell have been a part of British folklore for as long as anyone can remember.
Wistman’s Woods, is believed to be the kennel where the dreaded Wisht Hounds are kept.
On dark nights, these diabolical hounds are released and given freedom to hunt and kill the unfortunate soul caught in the woods.
According to legend, these hellish dogs with their fiery eyes and yellow fangs are led around by the devil himself.
Another legend states the dogs are also led by, Old Crokern, an ancient entity who inhabits Crockern Tor.
Like the dogs he leads, Old Crokern, has an insatiable hunger for human souls. And an unquenchable thirst for blood.
A Pup Named Jumbo
The Wisht Hounds aren’t the only ghostly canines said to haunt the woods. The mournful cry of a terrier called, Jumbo is heard echoing through the woods.
It’s believed he was killed by the strike of an adder while hunting for rabbits.
Visitors to the woods have claimed to see the small dog as it leads them further into the woods and then vanishes.
Way Of The Dead
For many years, corpses that were being buried in Lydford, were carried along an ancient track of Lych Way. Or, as the locals call it, the way of the dead.
People who live near the way of the dead, have witnessed an eerie sight.
A ghostly procession of men in white robes are seen traversing the ancient path in an unearthly silence.
Witnesses report the somber parade fades from view when they reach their destination.
The Bite Of Death
If horrific hounds and phantom processions aren’t enough to keep you away, you may want to consider the deadly adders.
The highly deadly serpents are said to slither and live among the rocks of Wistman’s Woods. They strike with a furious swiftness and their bit is so venomous, you’re dead before you ever know what hit you.
Dartmoor’s Wistman’s Woods is a pristine wooded area known for its natural beauty that has withstood the test of time.
Nevertheless, it is considered to be a place of mystery and danger. I warn you, enter at your own peril.