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Last Wolf

Last Wolf

For many years Kyloe the wolf lived a solitary life high amongst the remote tors of Dartmoor. His life was simple and safe, food was plenty and at the first sign of humans he would simply hide amongst the granite outcrops, basically nobody knew of his existence. Sometimes on clear moonlit nights he would venture to the edge of his land of granite and with his head cocked to one side would stare perplexedly at the twinkling lights of habitation way down in the little valley. Always something deep inside told him that below was an exciting and different world but more importantly there was danger. So after a while he would lope off back to his land of stream and tor where he was happiest . Over the months he found himself more and more inexplicably drawn to this strange world in the valley and his thirsty bewilderment became stronger and stronger until the fateful night when from below he heard wafting on the night air the cry of another wolf. The hairs on his mane bristled and a shiver shot down his spine. Slowly meter by meter he descended to the edge of the village all the time something was telling him to stop and return to the high moor but he ignored the warning of instinct. 

As Kyloe warily ventured through the sleeping village he happened to look through the gate of a small cottage, he could not believe what he saw for there tied to an old peat cart was another creature just like him. All his life he had roamed the moors thinking he was the last of his kind and now right in front of his eyes was another wolf. This one was smaller than himself and its coat was a lot lighter but there was no question –  he was no longer the last of his kind. With one eye on the cottage and the other on the wolf he warily leapt the gate and trotted over to the peat cart. As he got closer he could see that his new found friend was a female. She too was amazed to see another like herself, excitedly she walked over to Kyloe. It turned out that her name was Rowan. She had lived with the humans all her life. From a pup she had been brought up by a local peat cutter who had found her wandering the moor. 

From that time onwards Kyloe would venture down to see Rowan as much as possible, on many occasions travelling down from the high moor to be with her. Before long they were both deeply in love with each other and this new world of companionship, love and sharing started to become a way of life for Kyloe. But on returning to the moors after each visit something kept telling him he was a wild free spirit and that village was not of his world, the frustration and anger of this confusion of emotions would make him turn and howl down the wind in torment. Despite the pain and misgivings he kept returning to Rowan. They started to plan a life together where she would leave the life she knew and on the high moor they would find a den, have pups and live by each others side forever.

The day soon arrived early next Easter when side by side they climbed the steep slope from the village up to the craggy land of granite. A den was soon found amongst the rocky slopes of Hound tor and life became idyllic and fulfilling. That was until the fateful night when Kyloe was returning to the den past The Whitmoor Stone circle. Nearby he noticed a party of hunters walking towards their rocky lair. Rowan as usual came out to meet him, she had not noticed the men with their guns. Suddenly one of the hunters spotted Rowan , lifted his gun and took careful aim. Kyloe’s natural instinct when meeting humans was to quietly fade unseen into the rocks and for a split second that’s what he started to do but then he knew he had Rowan to worry about. In desperation he raced across the clitter slope and as the hunter fired he sprang into the air and leapt toward his mate, the bullet ripped into his side with searing pain. Rowan saw Kyloe crumple to the ground and made to run to him but with his last breath he told her to flee back to the lowlands before the hunters killed her too. Reluctantly she made her escape and as she hurtled down the old miners path that would lead her back to the village and safety she heard the last plaintive cry of Kyloe howling down the wind.

She soon re-adapted to her old way of life and once the pain of her loss had passed the memory of Kyloe faded into the mists of time. But on still nights when the wind was blowing from the south she would often hear what she thought to be a solitary, lonesome howling, was this the spirit of Kyloe and more to the point was he lamenting their parting or his own refusal to heed the instincts of his nature, we shall never know because he was the last true wild wolf of Dartmoor.

There is no firm evidence as to when the last wolf was killed on Dartmoor but Hemery notes that the last two wolves were killed at Brimpts and Drewsteignton in and around 1780.

 

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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