WISTMAN'S WOOD

Posted @ 17:03:40 on 06 April 2008

The nice thing about being at home is that you can get out into the wilds and just walk. There is something so cleansing and so fulfilling about being so out in nature. A friend of mine refers to it as plugging into the mains, but sometimes here, the feeling is so intense it is more like sticking your finger in a socket. Yesterday we walked out to Wistman's Wood, because Mary (Everyone, meet Dad's lovely new wife, Mary) thought she would like to see it, having been so enchanted by Satish Kumar's wonderful recent programme, "Earth Pilgrim - A Year on Dartmoor". (He is wonderful and it was stunning - but why wont they release it on DVD?!) Wistman's Wood is somewhere your imagination can really take flight and come up with some wonderful stories (in fact, I can say it was single handedly responsible for me starting to write the Lychway when I read a description of the wood in a book about Folklore, and it took me back to my childhood of family walks and picnics amongst the rocks there) It is Devon's oldest woodland, but it is not quite what you would expect. The trees are Oak, but they are stunted, so even now after so many hundreds of years they are only about 6 or 7 feet in height. They are all covered in a thick layer of moss, and have an amazing abundance of plants growing in amongst the branches, like ferns and mistletoe and ivy. And amongst their gnarled and mis-shaped trunks, the granite rocks are so wildly strewn about you can barely find a path through. In 1620, some well intentioned person tried to survey the wood, but gave up very quickly as he could not find a way through. But when you sit amongst the tree trunks and touch the thick carpet of moss that grows on the tree trunks, you really get a sense of something very ancient and very powerful just sleeping, and biding its time until Spring makes its merry way onto the open moor and wakes all the trees up again.

And if you are wondering why, several weeks after the Equinox I am talking about Spring not having reached here yet, it always seems to arrive several weeks later here. (It is now 2 degrees and snowing quite hard).

Bewitching

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