Wistman’s Wood

Aside from May Day in Oxford, the highlight of my trip was Wistman’s Wood in Dartmoor. This is a small, ancient copse of gnarled oak trees and moss-covered boulders, associated in local legend with the Wisht hounds, black dogs of the Wild Hunt. Armed with somewhat shoddy directions from the internet, and the more useful directive of the man at the nearby hotel to just follow the Dart River the whole way, we set off on the moor.

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We looked all around in the distance for the wood, tentatively identifying a smudge on the landscape that seemed much too far away – but we were to discover that distance can be deceiving out there. As we neared it and became more sure of our destination, a heavy mist descended, further obscuring the copse. In fact, it wasn’t until we were right upon it that we could see it clearly – and then it was if no fog existed at all, and the brilliant greens of moss and lichen emerged.

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You’ll notice in the picture above – even though I felt I was standing perfectly vertically, and my mother had the camera straight… somehow everything is at an angle. Really captures the feeling of the whole place.

I took a few moments by myself and sat in the natural shelter made by some of the boulders (below). Someone else had felt drawn to this spot recently, as there was a single daffodil laid there like an offering. I made my own offering, which turned out to be unexpectedly powerful. While it had the air of forboding common in such numinous places, I would have stayed there much longer, but some German tourists came along (and immediately, one of them slipped and fell rather badly), and I felt it best to move on.

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On the way back, I too slipped and fell in a way that would have been rather bad (could have easily sprained an ankle) if I hadn’t thought fast enough to let myself fall properly, avoiding injury but not a bit of pain (and mud). I considered it my sacrifice to the spirits of the place. In return, I picked up a rock I found nearby (not in the wood itself, which did not feel right), that turned out to be very alive, and became both a companion and helper spirit for the rest of the trip.

We saw tracks and scat from several animals out there on the moor, but the only ones we saw in the flesh were the numerous sheep grazing about. This last one came through a hole in the stone wall to watch us as we passed.

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Already I find that when I think of my trip, and all the many amazing sights we saw, I keep coming back over and over again to Wistman’s Wood. I hope someday to spend much more time there, and in the surrounding area. It was deeply powerful.

~ by Dver on May 9, 2013.

8 Responses to “Wistman’s Wood”

  1. Wow! That looks a lot like I have always imagined Ryhope Wood to look. The second picture, particularly, is very much like the way I imagined the tree that Tallis sees the Warrior Scathach from, and then makes her Bird Spirit Land.

    • Yes, I totally see that!

      Actually, one of the things I’d wanted to see on this trip was Holdstock’s memorial (he has a bench somewhere, not a gravesite), but it was too out of the way from the rest of our stuff. Still, it was good to see bits of the sort of landscape that must have inspired him.

  2. Reminds me of walking in Derbyshire when I was a lad. Welcome to Britain, where the skyis often grey, the rocks slippery and the ground and distance are indeed deceptive. I love my country. :-). Its a shame this week has gone cool and cloudy again, but when there are blue skies and blinding sunshine, that’s when Britain really shows her beauty.
    I’m glad you are seeing and experiencing what our isle is like. Please keep posting!

  3. Hi, Senneferet, I’m actually from Yorkshire, but my folks were kind enough to take me hiking in Derbyshire when I was a kid.
    Frogatt’s Edge, eh? Good stone circle and definitely a magic feel to the place. Did you gain any impressions for the circle itself? I picked up a orientation with bulls, then discovered Taurus was somehow involved, possibly with the star Aldabaran being used as pole star in the Bronze Age.

  4. Reblogged this on hocuspocus13.

  5. What a wonderful place. I have seen it before on television I think and have always wanted to go there and experience it for myself. It looks very mystical and ancient. I really like your blog.
    Bright Blessings
    x

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