whisht hounds

Spectral, headless and glowing black hounds that haunt Wistman's Wood and vicinity in Dartmoor. The dogs sometimes show themselves (generally on Sunday) and appear jet-black, breathing flames, and followed by a tall swart figure, who carries a hunting pole. This Wistman appears to have been some demonic creature, whose name alone remains, but is also said by some to be Woden. They valley of the Dewerstone is also the place of their nightly meetings.

In one story, Sir Frances Drake drove a hearse into Plymouth at night with headless horses and he was followed by a pack of "yelling hounds" without heads. If dogs hear the cry of the whisht hounds they all die.

Whish or whisht is a common term for that weird sorrow which is associated with mysterious causes.



  • Gifford, W., ed. (1873). The Quarterly Review. Vol. 135. London: John Murray, p. 159.
  • Hardwick, C. (1872). Traditions, Superstitions and Folk-lore: Chiefly Lancashire and the North of England. Manchester: A. Ireland & Co., p. 192.
  • Hunt, R. (1865). Popular Romances of the West of England. Vol 1. London: J.C. Hotten, p. xix.