Picture this, you’re trekking up Cat Bells, headed towards a viewpoint to gaze across Derwentwater and you spot a llama coming up the hillside… No, you’re not dreaming, this is a real activity you can do in the Lake District and let me tell you, it’s a lot of fun!
So how does a llama trek work?
Simply put – you book and then turn up (can you spot me rounding up the herd at the back?) The treks currently run from Thursday to Sunday starting at 11:30am prompt. I’d booked ours for Easter Sunday and we set off with plenty time to get across to the Lake District (roughly a 2 hour drive)
If the weather is really bad then they will offer you the chance to reschedule and of course the weather over in the lakes can be quite changeable. We were really lucky and had up to 21 degrees and bright sunshine – definitely wouldn’t have predicted that!
Because I’d booked this for my sister Lucy’s birthday, I thought it was best to get the ‘full’ experience, meaning we were trekking with one llama each. The rest of the group had chosen to share their llama and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. They’re considerably taller than alpacas and can be up to 5 foot 11! If you feel a bit nervous, it may be worth sharing with a friend. The guides will always be on hand if you do feel uncomfortable at any point and will take over leading the llama. It’s meant to be a fun experience so do raise any queries prior to booking or even when you turn up. Feel free to ask all the questions you need to during the briefing.
Lucy was paired with Dopey, who was a right fussy character from the start. He wanted to see what was going on, at all times and even stuck his nose into her camera bag at one point when we stopped to take a few photos.
I was paired with Ming. He’s the baby of the llamas and only a year and a half old. This means he’s not quite as tall as some of the others – like Larry and Tim, and he’s a little more reserved. I found he was a little more nervous around dogs as there were a few roaming around on the trek, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle and a few neck strokes and some attention and he was absolutely fine. He was even humming which is a good sign as they hum when they’re happy. I’ll take that to mean I made a good impression!
The trek lasts around 2 hours, depending on how fast the group goes. At no point are you pushed to walk faster and there are plenty photo opportunities too. The guides leading the trek completely understand that you want to take photos with your new llama pals and will take photos for you too – how helpful! As I was there with my sister we shared some of the photo duties but it was nice to ask Shelly or Terry to take a few photos of us together and they were both really patient and took lots, so we got all the angles.
Of course it’s really about the experience and we really enjoyed bonding with the llamas and having a different perspective to our walk up Cat Bells. It’s somewhere we’ve trekked up before, but when you’re responsible for a four-legged animal, it does change things. I learnt a lot about llamas during our trek.
Interested? Of course you are…
Check your diary and get your walking boots and waterproofs ready. Book via the Once Upon A Llama website and let me know if you go on a trek! I’d love to see your photos too – especially if you walk with Ming or Dopey. Or Frodo – he was such a fluffy, striking character.
I’d absolutely book again. It was great fun and a really different experience. Knowing that the money spent on this goes towards the welfare of the llamas is really rewarding too. Maybe next time I’ll visit the alpacas for a walk around Lingholm Estate. I mean just look at little Bill above – this minature alpaca thinks he is a llama so he lives with his bros in their field. So cute.
Would you go on a llama trek?