In the spirit of All Hallows Eve, dim the lights, lock the doors and prepare yourself for the legend of The Wisht Hounds – A suitably ghoulish tale from Wistman’s Woods in the depths of Dartmoor.
Dartmoor, is steeped in ancient folklore. Tales of Druids, ghosts and other supernatural creatures are plentiful. Many places on the moor are known to be haunted by vengeful ghosts, playful pixies and even the Devil himself.
Once such place is Wistman’s Woods. Some say that this is the most haunted place on Dartmoor. The name comes from the Devon word ‘wisht’, meaning pixie-led, or haunted. The Dartmoor pixies are notorious, leading lost travellers astray and causing cars to crash along the empty roads, haunting every tor, outcrop and forest.
Locals do not dare enter the woods after dark for this is when the Wisht Hounds of the wood are released to stalk the moor in search of their human victims. A pack of fiendish hell hounds who hunt across the moors at night in search unbaptised children, although they will often try to quell their insatiable hunger for human flesh and souls by preying on lost or weary travellers. They are huge black dogs with blood red eyes, large yellow fangs and whose bloodcurdling howls can be heard echoing across the dark, misty moorland.
Pray that you never have the misfortune to meet them. They are they are either led by the Devil himself or occasionally by the ancient spirit of Dartmoor known as ‘Old Crockern’ who lives nearby on Crockern Tor.
The legend started in about 1850, a farmer was riding home from Widecombe Fair when a pack of hounds, lead by a dark huntsman, sped past him. He called out, asking how the hunt had gone, and inquired if he might share some of the spoils of the hunt. The dark huntsman looked back, growled in a menacing voice, ‘Take that!’ and tossed a large bundle at him. The farmer, a little taken aback, carefully picked up the bundle and hurried home, excited to see what game he had acquired. However upon unwrapping the bundle, he discovered the body of his own young son.
If you do find yourself lost on the moor after dark, beware the Wisht Hounds and Old Crockern.
From us all at Tanner Bates, we wish you a suitably spooky Halloween!
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