In Yorkshire there are so many things for visitors to do – beautiful countryside to explore, museums, theatres, anything you want. And if you prefer something a little out of the ordinary, you can always take a llama for a walk. In 2019 I fulfilled one of my dreams to walk with one of my favourite animals through the Yorkshire countryside. The llama is usually found in South America but you can also meet one in Nidderdale where a whole farm exists full of llamas and alpacas.
From York I took a train to Harrogate and a bus to Pateley Bridge, which is an 11 mile journey. From there I took another bus as close as I could to Nidderdale Llamas, a family-run trekking centre on Kiln Farm. The rest of the way was on foot but it was very easy to reach. I arrived in the rain which thankfully gave way to a gorgeous sunny day and I stood and savoured the nearby attractive views of the Yorkshire Dales.
I waited a short while as other trekkers arrived, before the all-female team opened the doors. There was a large indoor space where you checked off your name and confirmed your booking and nearby enclosures where a variety of animals sat on straw. All the animals, as you can see from the photos look clean and well-cared for. We were all matched with suitable animals according to our level of confidence. For most people, it was the first time they had taken a llama for a walk. I was delighted when I met Ned. He was the right size llama for me to handle and he was also very gentle.
But Don’t Llamas Spit at People?
People hold ridiculous misconceptions about llamas. They believe that llamas easily spit at humans. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, as it was explained at Nidderdale Llamas, llamas spit at other llamas. If a llama was to spit at a human, it would mean they had mistaken them for another llama! Such a thing would only occur if they were badly reared, having been separated from their mothers too early. A well-trained llama at a centre such as Nidderdale Llamas, would never dream of spitting at a person.
Taking Ned for a long walk of about an hour in the sunshine was a beautiful experience. We all went together with the Nidderdale ladies on hand to assist us. The journey took us through fields, along fenced lanes, past cattle and traditional Yorkshire dry-stone walls. We were told that occasionally the llamas would be tempted to eat leaves from over-hanging trees and that we had to be firm with them, as this was snacking between meals. Also over-eating is not in the llamas’ best interest. Ned of course tried on many occasions to sneak a bite of over-hanging foliage. He was however, all in all, an impeccably behaved llama. He was sure-footed and steady and he didn’t try to bolt or move about wildly. He was a joy to handle.
Llamas make a very strange noise when they speak, like a hooter being blown. If they do this, they are just chatting to other llamas. You can hear my recording of this, below!
Nidderdale Llamas is the kind of place you need to book in advance. You cannot just turn up and ask to walk a llama!! If you have ever thought this might be something you would like to do, I can highly recommend the experience at this particular centre. You will be supervised and reassured all the way on your wonderful rural walk. What a great way to spend a day!