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Black Dunghill

Black Dunghill

Following his torn cruciate ligament operation and several weeks confinement it is now possible to take Zeb out on short walks. The problem he has is that although I doesn’t think he’s any longer in pain he refuses to use his bad leg. This being his hind left leg can cause a problem if he is trying to pee against something on his right because he just falls over. You would not believe the trauma that operation caused, the night of it I drank a bottle of whisky and then when I collected him from the vets I drank another. His wound was nicely dressed and the nurse said it should last a day or two, yeah you wish, within an hour he had eaten the whole thing! So then we bandaged him and with surgical precision he nibbled through the bandages, so we dressed him again and by the tenth time it was abandoned. An old pair of tights was brought into use and he limped around like an old stripper. Anyway, that was then, this is now, today he was up on Black Dunghill siting a letterbox, a testament to the skills of the vet.

Black Dunghill

Dressing number 9, bare as a badger’s arse

We had only been on the moor five minutes when walking past some water-filled bomb craters there was a splash and the sound of frantic thrashing, Yep, Zeb had gone for a swim in the slime caked morass that filled the shell hole. Jesus, did he honk when he came out, well he  was literally hauled out by the scruff of his neck. Mind you we were on the way to Black Dunghill so perhaps he was trying to play the part, if he was then he should have had an Oscar for authenticity. Black Dunghill always reminds me of the old Dunghill Cock that crows atop of a muck heap in the farm yards.

Black Dunghill

Despite the early morning rain the day was brightening up no end and the visibility was excellent. It is amazing how nature eventually adapts to most things, the numerous water-filled craters have been colonised by many things, some are full of weeds and over these dozens of damsel flies were dancing merrily and others had been filled with clumps of cotton grass, giving them the appearance of an explosion in a shaving foam factory.

Black Dunghill

For a Sunday this part of the moor was amazingly devoid of humans, there was one man walking out ahead of us, and then he came back, he had left his compass in the car – yeah, and haven’t we all done that one! It was quite sad to look up the Cowsic valley and to see how much the bracken is encroaching on its sides. The Beardown side is especially bad, but what can you expect if you reduce the livestock numbers that graze the moor? It seems to me that there are very few places left on the lower altitudes that are not suffering from this problem and year by year it gets worse.

Black Dunghill

The name ‘Black Dunghill’ has always fascinated me and nowhere seems to explain its origin, I would have thought the ‘Black’ element alludes to the peat which abounds there but as to ‘Dunghill’ I have no idea. But even in this dry spell its still a ‘kecky’ old place with bog and muck everywhere. The purpose of this walk was to site a letterbox and it was only when we reached the plateau that it nearly came to a very abrupt end, I had left my lighter at home and had no means to light a cigarette. It was only a while ago that I was laughing at the poor bloke who had left his compass in the car, well I wished he was a smoker and nearby now. I normally carry emergency windproof matches in the rucksack but obviously I had left my lighter once too often as they had all gone. Look out all and sundry, twitchy smoker with no smoke is not a good sign, as kids we used to smoke reeds but those nearby were too green. Could have done with a party of school kids training for the Ten Tors, bet they would have a light, cigarettes as well I expect. Well the box was soon sighted and we were rushing back to the car as fast as our legs could carry us, apart from Zeb who was only firing on three. Whilst we were yomping across to the car we came across a beautiful caterpillar and being no lepidopterist I have no idea which butterfly it will turn into, but if its colours are anything to go by it must be something special?

Black Dunghill

So there it is, Zeb’s partial return to the moor, it must have knackered him because he slept all the way over to Pin Tor. Now the thing with this dog is that any natural pool does not worry him, much, but bung him in the bath and he quakes with fear and puts on a pathetic expression. Compare the look on his face in the end result below to that of his first dunking on the moor – he still honks after a good Voseneing?

Black Dunghill

Doesn’t look so pleased with himself now!

 

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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