Saturday, 8 September 2012
Dartmoor Mule Rides in Autumn
Today I was a big grown up muletta and went for a lovely ride on Dartmoor, just us two girls. Until today I have only been allowed on to the very biggest expanse of the moor with a mule sitter.... my short eared friend Bree who shows me the ropes. But today I went up there on my own! It is a very wild place where not many humans go; the secret part that we come to was very quiet this morning except for the sheep, ponies and cows in the distance. Dartmoor covers nearly 400 square miles and in the olden days there were people that lived on the high parts of the moor and farmed, more recently there were mines and peat extraction but now it is a national park which means it is open to all, including us long ears! There are also the Pixies who live here, I've told you about before (sometimes they are called the Dini), FH never believes me but I know they're there, she just doesn't look hard enough!
We covered quite a few mule miles, going up and down steep slopes (no saddle slippage anymore - yippee!), through streams, weaved in between the granite boulders and we narrowly avoided the yucky bogs that this part of Dartmoor is famous for.
For once I had to really listen to FH as unlike most of the time she knew more about where I should put my feet than I did. The moor is a bit of a skill to ride, there are so many things you need to know; what are sheep tracks that lead nowhere and what are mule tracks that lead to where we need to go, what is a bog and what isn't, what is hidden beneath the bracken and which parts of the streams you can cross at, if you don't know the area it can be very dangerous. It would seem FH has been practising up here without me, I am most upset but guess it's been to my advantage?
We had been out for a while when I spied a strange creature in the distance... it looked very peculiar in amongst the sheep and cows and bracken, it seemed to be running on two legs directly for us! Oh no muleteers I think it may be a monster?! I have my bravest mule ears on and am stood very still ready to run if needed.... But no, don't worry it's Man Human (MH) all dressed in lycra and he seems to be running? What a strange individual my favourite human can be sometimes! It would appear that he enjoys spending time running around the moor, I wonder if he got lost? So he stopped by for a quick hello and scratch of my ears and we persuaded him to take some pictures of my mulificence! Here I am cooling my beautiful little toes in a Dartmoor stream....
But wait what's that over on the bank? I spy some lovely sedge grass, my favourite! FH pretended not to notice and continued to stare in to the distance, if you look closely though she has definitely rumbled me, I must get better at adopting 'Casual Ears' when I lock on to a tasty morsel!
So off MH ran and continued on his slightly crazy moor running trip leaving us behind to make progress at the right pace (my pace) and to stop every now and again to take in the beauty of the moor at this time of year. The grass is just getting brown, the ponies are plump and the ground is finally drying out - all in time for the W word!
Alas, all good things must come to an end so we started on our way back, the mist of the morning had risen and the track back was full of lovely views and morsels to eat.
Bye Dartmoor, we'll be back again very soon!