blog

Llama-rama-ding-dong

1st February 2017

Or

How to have a great day and a big surprise in the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside

I love walking. There’s something so relaxing about repetitive physical movement that frees up the brain from worries. Northamptonshire doesn’t have huge mountains or moorland, but there are so very many hidden places to stretch the legs and the mind too. Northamptonshire’s countryside is rural and pretty, with wonderful villages to wander through, as well as utterly fabulous pubs to enjoy. Every now and then there is something truly amazing to see, and my recent visit to south Northamptonshire revealed a new walking experience for me, llama trekking! 

Catanger Llamas, according to Trip Advisor, are No 1 of things to experience in Towcester, and I was looking for something fun to do with my friend Meta visiting from Slovenia. This seemed just the ticket!

Catanger Farm is a great local enterprise. They breed llamas and make things with llama fibre which they sell in their shop, along with Peruvian handicrafts. You can adopt a llama, or even buy one bred from their herd. Apparently llamas make excellent guardian and companion animals with the added benefit that they love being taken for a trek through our beautiful countryside.

I have limited experience with llamas - I watched the Disney movie ‘Emperor’s New Groove’ which featured a man who had become transformed into a llama, but this was not much help, (although hilarious!) So I was intrigued by the idea of taking a llama for a walk and getting to know him a little. 

We were fully briefed beforehand in the cosy log cabin. We were shown how to lead a llama, how to keep them moving, and what to do if they decided that they needed a snack along the way. Beforehand I had heard that they might spit, and that their rather large teeth might be a little alarming. Apparently well brought up llamas don’t spit or feel the need to nibble people at all, and this proved to be the case, all our llamas were perfectly behaved. Our guide also said that they are happy to be petted, but only after they have got to know you a little. They don’t like to be rushed into intimacy, ‘how English!‘ said Meta.

We then went to meet the boys who were to be out llama friends for the trek. I was introduced to a tall and handsome llama called Barnaby, who possessed a huge personality, deep brown eyes and curling eyelashes. He was to be my companion for the trek. I was in love. I couldn’t resist reaching out to touch his beautiful fluffiness. Barnaby looked at me and leaned as far away as he could. I had overstepped the mark too soon!

Meta had a delightfully shy and pretty blonde boy, Yarrow, who was very happy to be admired. So we set off, around 15 llamas and perhaps 20 of us walkers including children, who shared leading their animals with their parents.

Catanger Farm comprises of around 40 acres of native woods and pastureland set in the rolling Northamptonshire countryside. The land is threaded through with bridleways, farm tracks and country paths, just the perfect place to wander along with a gentle llama for company. The winter weather was mild and sunny and it was a real pleasure to enjoy the fresh air and to look for signs of spring. As we were out for a short trek the llamas just came along for the walk. They are bred to carry loads, and if we had gone out for longer they would have carried our picnics, backpacks etc. As it was they were unencumbered and so seemed to enjoy their walk snatching the odd mouthful of leaves and grass as they went.

After a while I made another attempt to give Barnaby some love, and this time he blew gently at me and leaned his strong neck towards my hand. What a charmer! He then took total advantage and decided that he wanted to graze. Meta’s llama Yarrow had decided that he wanted to slow down and nibble everything he could find too, but both of them responded well to an encouraging pull on their harness and we carried on happily strolling through the woodland.

Once we were back at the farm we took our llamas to enjoy their hay. And then the mums and babies arrived! A baby llama is all playful long legs, curiosity and utter gorgeousness. They were so much fun, and it was a lovely way to end the trek. I turned to say goodbye to Barnaby but he had abandoned me for the hay, so I watched the babies for a while. One came up to give me a delightful llama goodbye kiss breathing up my nose with his hay-sweet breath.

We all had a wonderful time, families, couples, and groups together. Llama trekking comes highly recommended. Something else totally unexpected and surprising in Northamptonshire!

So scores on the doors?

Relaxation factor 5/5

Making friends with a llama 5/5

Surprise factor 6/5 - well it is something that doesn’t happen everyday in England after all!

For more information about individual, families or groups trekking with Northamptonshire llamas at Catanger Farm, please visit www.llamatrekking.co.uk

Your login details have been used by another user or machine. Login details can only be used once at any one time so you have therefore automatically been logged out. Please contact your sites administrator if you believe this other user or machine has unauthorised access.