Wistman's Wood National Nature Reserve
Wistman’s Wood NNR is probably the most famous of three high-altitude oak woodland copses on Dartmoor, surrounded by granite tors and moorland. The woodland is important for the mosses and lichens found draped across the trees and granite boulders. The Arthur Rackham-style landscape of the oldest oak trees in Wistman’s Wood are reckoned to be about 400 years old, and the exclusion of grazing animals has doubled the woodland’s area in the last 100 years. Legend has it that Wistman’s Wood was a sacred grove of the Druids and it was where they held their pagan rituals. The wood is also said to be the kennels where the mythical Wisht Hounds are kept, which is probably how the wood got its name. The Devil himself is alleged to hang out here, too. Woodland birds such as redstart and spotted flycatcher can be seen in the wood in spring and summer, along with wheatear, stonechat and whinchat in more open moorland areas. Winter brings merlins, meadow pipits and skylarks, while short-eared owls and hen harrier can be seen on dark winter days.
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About The area
With magnificent coastlines, two historic cities and the world-famous Dartmoor National Park, Devon sums up all that is best about the British landscape. For centuries it has been a fashionable and much loved holiday destination – especially south Devon’s glorious English Riviera.
Close to the English Riviera lies Dartmoor, one of the south-west’s most spectacular landscapes. The National Park, which contains Dartmoor, covers 365 square miles and includes many fascinating geological features – isolated granite tors and two summits exceeding 2,000 feet among them.
Not surprisingly, in Dartmoor the walking opportunities are enormous. Cycling in the two National Parks is also extremely popular and there is a good choice of off-road routes taking you to the heart of Dartmoor and Exmoor. Devon’s towns and cities offer stimulating alternatives to the rigours of the countryside.
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