Wistman’s Wood is one of the most iconic and magical locations on Dartmoor, but there are many other woodland areas on the moors with a similar feel.

A few years ago, Natural England released advice asking visitors to no longer walk through Wistman’s Wood – instead urging them to walk around the mossy woodland areas to avoid causing more damage. As one of the more popular places to go on Dartmoor, the heavy footfall can cause harm to the fragile habitat. As Devon County Councillor Philip Sanders states: “Moss and lichen can take hundreds of years to form, but it only takes five minutes to destroy”.

So if you’re looking for places with the same fairytale feel as Wistman’s Woods, but potentially fewer people, here are a few alternatives to Wistman’s Woods to try on Dartmoor.

Temperate Rainforests on Dartmoor

Did you know that there are rainforests on Dartmoor?! These locations and more on Dartmoor are actually Temperate Rainforests – an area where at least 1500mm of rain falls each year. Temperate rainforests are characterised by oak trees – which are usually twisted and stunted by the conditions – as well as vibrant green moss, lichen and ferns.

Preserving the Environment

To preserve the areas you visit, please avoid stepping on the moss – stick to paths where possible, place your feet on patches of earth instead of on moss, and do not pick or remove any moss and lichen.

Black a Tor Copse

Black-a-Tor Copse

One of the most similar woodlands to Wistman’s Wood is Black-a-Tor Copse. This is another ancient oak woodland, located on the west side of Dartmoor near the West Okement River. Like Wistman’s Wood, Black-a-Tor Copse features moss-covered boulders and twisted oak trees draped in lichen.

Image Credit: Miles Wolstenholme under CC BY 2.0

Piles Copse

Situated in the south of Dartmoor near the River Erme, Piles Copse is an ancient oak woodland with twisted, moss-covered trees and an otherworldly feel. The copse is surrounded by moorland and offers a secluded and enchanting atmosphere. Piles Copse is legally designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and as an Environmentally Sensitive Area.

Image Credit: Gyrus under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Piles Copse

Lustleigh Cleave

Lustleigh Cleave is a steep-sided valley above the River Bovey that offers a mix of ancient woodland, open moorland and granite rock – including Hunter’s Tor. Within this area is a section of woodland that is considered temperate rainforest!

The ancient woodland here has a magical quality, with mossy boulders and twisted trees creating a captivating environment. The scenic beauty and tranquillity make it a wonderful place to explore.

Image Credit: Derek Harper under CC BY-SA 2.0

Fingle Woods

Located on the northern edge of Dartmoor along the River Teign, Fingle Woods is a large ancient woodland with a diverse range of trees, plants, and wildlife. The 825-acre ancient woodland is managed by both the Woodland Trust and the National Trust. It features a variety of habitats, with parts that include mossy rocks and old, twisted trees.

Mill End Hotel is located near to Fingle Woods, with some fantastic walks in the Chagford area available from our front door!

Dewerstone Wood

Dewerstone Woods

Dewerstone Woods is a beautiful area on Dartmoor, near Shaugh Prior. It has many moss-covered rocks and ancient trees, creating a lush and green environment. The woods are bordered by the River Plym and the River Meavy, adding to the scenic landscape.

The area features steep cliffs and wooded slopes, particularly around the Dewerstone, a notable granite tor.

Image Credit: Nilfanion under CC BY-SA 4.0

Whiddon Deer Park & Woods

Whiddon Deer Park is by Castle Drogo, located at the mouth of the Teign Gorge. It is known for its amazing gnarled oak trees, lichen and moss. In spring, it will also be blanketed with bluebells. The nearby Whiddon Woods also has an impressive area of temperate rainforest.

If you’d like to see these magical spots on Dartmoor, then Mill End Hotel is the perfect place to stay as your base for exploration. Our 15th-century mill set within stunning grounds is straight out of a fairytale too!