When asked to write on the countryside, it would be…
Opposite the Two Bridges Hotel there’s a walk that takes you up the valley parallel to the West Dart river to Wistman’s Wood, an impressive ancient sessile oak forest. You cannot fail to be impressed by the tortured nature of these trees, festooned with lichens and mosses, growing amongst a patchwork of enormous granite boulders.
There are days towards the end of the year when the grey has descended. With no wind to blow it away, it can be cool and damp, but immensely peaceful, the mist seemingly deadening out any sound.
Photography generally requires decent light levels and the day I visited Wistman’s Wood on Dartmoor the light levels were low. Although you don’t get glorious back-lighting, decent modern digital cameras should be able to pick up the subtle tones prevalent at this time of year.
It’s a busy spot with families and walkers on the weekend. The walk is about three quarters of a mile from the car park opposite the Two Bridges Hotel. Wistman’s Wood is a unique habitat with many people visiting through the year. It’s important to cause as little damage as is possible, it’s a special environment that should be admired and preserved. It’s extremely easy to sprain or break an ankle between the boulders so please be careful. Alfie (pictured) had to be restrained from playing with another dog for the same reason.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Two Bridges Hotel, one of my favourite Devon hotels. I always liken a visit to a step back in time to a country hotel in the 1970s. You’ll often hear clipped English accents, broad Dartmoor ones, with old monotone photos of the Royal Family on the walls and welcoming real fires – don’t forget to try the Jail Ale – it’s a totally unique place!
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