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Wistmans Wood on Dartmoor

Wistmans wood on Dartmoor is a dramatic and beautiful spot. The stunted ancient oaks covering the moss covered boulder strewn slopes above the West Dart are a dramatic contrast from the colours and textures of the rest of the moor. An easy walk up from Two Bridges takes you to Wistmas Wood, sitting between Beardown Tors to the west and Littaford Tors to the east. The woods have inspired artists and poets for centuries, as this poem from Carrington demonstrates.

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!”

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