Wistman's Wood and the West Dart Valley

Tread lightly though this ancient valley; it is a special place.

At its heart is Wistman’s Wood National Nature Reserve, important for its fragile mosses and lichens. The wood is home to the incredibly rare Horsehair lichen (Bryoria smithii) which is found at only two sites in Britain.

This upland oak wood is a piece of our own rainforest. It is precious and vulnerable. It needs all of us to protect it.

  • Don’t walk through the wood or scramble across the rocky boulders, this will destroy the lichens and mosses. Every footstep makes a difference.
  • Don’t remove branches or pick lichens and mosses.
  • Don’t light fires or barbeques
  • Wild camping is not allowed in this area
  • Cycling is not allowed on the footpath or moorland. Check where you can cycle.
  • Leave no trace, give nature space

Visiting the area

A small car park for visitors is available opposite Two Bridges Hotel. Spaces are very limited and best avoided at busy times. Access is required at all times so please do not park across gateways or along the road.

The footpath to Wistman’s Wood from the car park and back again is about 4km – so allow one hour to do the return walk. Follow the broad track passing to the right of Crockern Farmhouse to where you get a good view of Wistman’s Wood nestled in the West Dart Valley. The path then narrows as it passes through a gateway, becoming rough, muddy, and wet for the rest of the route.

Be prepared as the weather can change dramatically on the moor.

Find out more about planning your visit to Dartmoor

Did you know?

Wistman’s Wood is a National Nature Reserve not just for its delicate lichens but also for its heathland, mire, and grassland species.

Ancient history

On higher ground to the north-east of Wistman’s Wood, you can see the ruined walls of over 100 prehistoric huts hidden amongst the moorland plants.


Wistman’s Wood is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and managed by Natural England. It is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Learn more about why it was designated

Discover Dartmoor’s temperate rainforests

The oak woodlands across Dartmoor grow in the mild, damp, conditions of Britain’s Atlantic coast and are full of special lichens and mosses. A major project is under way led by Plantlife and supported by Dartmoor National Park to find ways to better protect this temperate rainforest in the face of climate change, air pollution and changes in management.

Find out more about Building Resilience in South West Woodlands

You can download identification guides to lichens, mosses and much more from the project resources pages.

Discover more along the beautiful wooded valleys of the Dart Valley, the Bovey Valley, or the Teign Valley.