Saturday, 13 June 2009
Dartmoor Day 2
On my second day in Dartmoor, I did a 10-miler from the Two Bridges hotel. This meant I didn't have to do much driving and also out hotel is in the centre of the moor so we could do a circular walk from there and see lots of scenery. Within about 10 minutes of walking north we arrived at Wistmans Wood. I have seen this before on the Nature of Britain documentary, where Alan Titchmarsh said it is supposed to be haunted. I have also read that Wistmans Wood is supposed to be the most haunted place on Dartmoor. Its real interest is that it is a SSSI. The lichens on the trees are very rare, and some grow nowhere else apart from this wood. Many are hundreds of years old. The trees are pedunculate oaks which are small and stunted, and very gnarled, partly because of the high altitude. It is thought that Wistmans Wood is part of a truly ancient forest and is what Dartmoor would have looked like in prehistoric times. The lichens grow so well on the rocks and trees because of the lack of air pollution.
On leaving Wistmans Wood, we admired the views from Bellever tor. We saw a rare orchid and walked down towards the ruins Powdermills. This is an eerie and haunted site because it is reputed to be the death on an Italian worker in an explosion there which resulted on the ghostly phenomenon of the "Hairy Hands". These Hairy Hands are said to grab the steering wheel from the drivers or motorcyclists at Cherrybrook Bridge, and there have been many accidents (one including a police officer) which have been blamed on the hairy hands. This is a uniquely modern 20th century ghost phenomenon which has only been happening since the 1920s.
On crossing the road we walked through a stretch of pine trees, but shortly before this we nearly got stuck in a bog because the signs warning about it were the wrong way round! I blame this on the hinkypunks or pixies. It was very interesting to see a bog up close nevertheless.
The next part of our walk took us towards the River Dart, and a landscape opened up that was almost like Middle Earth. A distant view of the sparking river over a dry stone wall where there were still many bluebells. Eventually we had to cross two sets of stepping stones, this was the only way across the river. The stones do look like something out of Middle Earth.
We saw some more Dartmoor ponies and followed the route over another clapper bridge and the sparkling River Dart back to the hotel.