NAmes And legends
The derivation of the name is a matter for speculation. Wisht, a dialect word meaning haunted or eerie, could be the stem. Another name is The Wood of the Welshman, from the word wealas. Or it could also arise from wissman or wise men, reflecting the belief it may have had links to the Druids. It supposedly provided a sanctum for pagan rituals. One particularly immense boulder in the woodland is often referred to as The Druid’s Stone. It is said that acorns from this particular grove may protect against rheumatism. It is also the reputed home of the Wisht Hounds, a diabolical pack that hunts lost souls on the moor after dark. These hounds are of great size, fiery sparks leaping from their eyes and nostrils. Old Crockern, the legendary spirit of Dartmoor, is said to live nearby on Crockern Tor with the farm beside the footpath to the wood bearing his name. This primal spirit is said to ride with the Wisht Hounds, mounted on a skeleton horse. He protects the moor against any who seek to harm it, bringing ill luck to any who see him.
Sitting in the treeless landscape of Dartmoor, Wistman’s Wood is a fascinating anomaly.