A PACK mule which completed an epic cowboy-style journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End has retired to a farm in Bolton.

Belle Starr the mule carried supplies for two cowboy enthusiasts, Peter Darwent and Bob Sanderson, when they rode the length of the UK on horseback in 2005.

During their fundraising journey, Peter, from Westhoughton, and his companion slept under the stars and lived on a diet of baked beans and sausages.

Belle and the “cowboys” completed the 874-mile journey in 69 days.

Now Belle, aged seven, is taking a well-earned early retirement to live at Smithills Open Farm.

Farm manager Louise Blundell said Belle is set to become a popular attraction due to her celebrity status.

She said: “We’re probably not going to use her for children’s rides like the donkeys because she’s a bit cheeky.

“She’s really friendly though, and as soon as people come she just wants to be stroked and fed by anybody.”

A mule is a cross-breed from a male donkey and a female horse. They are renowned for their strength and hardiness, and are often used for pulling carts and carrying heavy loads.

All mules are sterile, but the females still have maternal instincts, and Belle is now looking after three baby donkeys at Smithills.

Peter gave Belle to the farm because he said he was getting too old to look after her.

He is fascinated by the Wild West and has dressed as a cowboy for more than 30 years.

Peter, known as Texas Red, has performed at Wild West shows across Lancashire, and it was through his interest in cowboys that he met Bob, aka Pony Bob, from Blackpool.

Riding from John O’Groats to Lands End was Peter’s life’s ambition, which he started soon after he retired as a quality control technician on his 65th birthday.

He has two autistic granddaughters and he used the sponsored ride to raise money for the Autism Initiative charity.