We found the Ents! Well, at least one of them. It was August 2016 and we had walked about a half a mile across the moor in Dartmoor National Park, Devon, England to find ourselves in one of the coolest places this side of Middle Earth.

Wistmans Wood

Is it an Ent?

They say Wistman’s Wood is the remnant of an ancient forest that covered Dartmoor around 7000 BC, the domain of red-eyed Wisht Hounds, super-venomous adders waiting in between the rocks, and ghosts. In other words, the perfect place for an Adventure.

Accompanied by our son Alex and cousin Mike, we set off across the moor and soon spotted the ancient forest in the distance.

Wistman's Wood

Across the moor toward the ancient wood

To enter Wistman’s Wood is to enter a different realm. Teetering moss-covered boulders and snarled branches make walking a challenge—if you were actually chased by a Wisht Hound you wouldn’t make it very far:)

Wistman's Wood

Entering a different realm

According to Wikipedia, “Wistman’s Wood is one of only three remote high-altitude oakwoods on Dartmoor…It is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall…The trees are mainly pedunculate oak, with occasional rowan, and a very few holly, hawthorn, hazel, and eared-willow…The wood is home to a large population of adders.”

So, apparently that part about the vipers isn’t completely a myth! Fortunately, we didn’t meet any during our visit.

Amidst all the cool trees and rocks, there was one rock in particular that we were searching for. The only problem was that the sun was beginning to set and navigating through the wood getting more perilous (not to mention the prospect of a walk back across the moor in fading light).

Just as we were about to give up, Alex found it—and it was definitely worth the extra time.

Wistman's Wood

We found the rock

Leaving the wood and looking back we couldn’t help but wonder, “Are those glowing eyes or just a trick of the light?” Surely the later. We turned and made our way back to the car park.

Wistman's Wood

Sun setting beyond the moor

But our adventure wasn’t quite over. When we left our B&B it was a simple drive—turn left and drive 4 miles to the Wistman’s Wood Car Park (GPS 50.558653, -3.964845). It was so simple, we figured we didn’t need the GPS to get back.

Not quite that simple. There was another road paralleling the road we had come in on and, in the dark, we weren’t aware we had taken the wrong road back until we started to wonder, a few miles later, “Where did the B&B go?”

We pulled out the GPS only to discover we were taking a long and winding detour back through the moor, including an encounter with surprise occupant on the road as we rounded a sharp turn.

Wistman's Wood

The long way back to the B&B

We eventually made it back to the B&B, having just visited one of the most amazing places we’ve ever seen. If you’re heading to southwest England, this is a hidden gem you won’t want to miss!