Take a trek with Herefordshire llamas
By Ben Lammas
Hello, the name's Lammas, I'm here for the llamas…it was worth going on this trip just for that introduction. But really though, as unusual as llama trekking may sound - what a way to spend a weekend! Especially when you are strolling through the majestic Herefordshire countryside - somewhat of a hidden gem - for me at least.
Just around an hour away from the West Midlands, Old King Street Farm sits nestled in the Herefordshire - Welsh border countryside just twelve miles from Hereford and Abergavenny. It is just down the lane from a tiny village called Ewyas Harold which has its own chippy, post office, shop and pubs - one of which has the former village vet as its chef - it's that quaint.
Pulling up on the drive we were greeted by Robert and Amanda. The pair escaped the hustle and bustle of London some years ago to live in the rolling hills of Herefordshire….with no less than 15 llamas and their beautiful home is something to behold. An imposing 18th century stone country house that has commanded its place on the skyline for centuries, sitting in 10 acres of woodland.
Once the Lammas/llamas introduction was done it was time to see the digs. Our home for the night was the spacious Pomona Cottage - a lovely barn conversion with a 22ft long living room space, beams and stonework everywhere - the perfect place to relax and prepare to face the llama herd the next day.
Pomona Cottage sleeps four and the adjoining Cider House sleeps Two. The cottages can also be opened up to cater for one large group. Both are modern and comfortable. They are restored from 18th century barns with a mix of old oak beams, modern bathrooms, old stone feature walls and underfloor heating.
The accommodation is self-catering but Amanda and Robert had left us out some of their freshly squeezed apple juice and eggs plus a few other treats including a delicious apple cake to get us started - or in our case to breakfast on - hey why not we were on holiday! There is also a television, DVD player and board games for those cosy evenings when the rain is lashing down outside. If you're staying in finer weather - the view from the patio couldn't be better. Take a coffee outside and sit and just drink in those rolling hills - who needs TV?
For those who don't fancy breaking out the pots and pans The Kilpeck Inn - a 10 minute drive away - is one of a few options for some food and drink.
I must say this place has got to be one of the smartest looking pub/restaurants I've been to and our waitress for the night couldn't have been friendlier. There was no waiting around and the food was lovely. The children particularly enjoyed desert - ice cream by Rowlestone of course. This is made just up the road by Mark and Mary Williams and family at Rowlestone Farm. You can visit the farm, which we did and enjoyed exploring their adventure play park and meeting the pigs before dropping in to the cafe for a bite to eat and to sample the ice cream. Flavours include Honeycomb (I can vouch for this one) and even whisky. Most of the local pubs and restaurants in the area stock this ice cream so you won't have to go far to try it out.
Back at the farm and after a lovely night's sleep in the barn we were ready for some llama trekking.
Robert introduced us to the gang who were eager to check us out. After a little hiding behind the legs our girls gained a little confidence and were soon brushing the llamas down and putting their harnesses on ready to go for walkies.
We were joined by llamas Hazelton and Ann on our trek with two leads on each for adult and child to share. The treks can last for more than three miles or be cut shorter for those with smaller legs - like our three year old. The llamas are extremely calm and obviously used to being taken on these walks. And though you might expect some odd stares as you stroll through the village with a llama - the locals are obviously used to and happy to see these treks winding their way past with many greeting us with smiles as we passed by. Wolverhampton-born Robert is a very calm and friendly guide who was understanding of our young family's needs and tailored the trek perfectly for us. Now this may seem a little gross but if you do go on one of these treks look out for the regurgitation thing llamas do when chewing - it really is something to behold.
The girls were smitten with their llamas by the end and got to take home some little souvenirs made by the talented Amanda - a master weaver. She has made some beautiful llama wool rugs and many other gifts that can be bought on site.
After a lovely walk what better way to unwind than with a Sunday lunch. And you couldn't pick a better spot than The Temple Bar Inn which is just a stroll down the hill from Old King Street Farm. The family-run pub, which boasts the former village vet as its chef, serves up some quality locally sourced food and guess what..some more of that Rowlestone ice cream too. This place also looks like it would be a lovely place to sit and enjoy a few drinks in the evening with a very relaxed atmosphere.
If you are looking for a place not too far from home to unwind this is a perfect choice and if you are heading this way I fully recommend trying out the llama trekking as well.
Llama trekking is available to both people staying in the self catering Herefordshire holiday cottages or for day visitors by appointment.
Price per person, either with one llama each or sharing one llama between two people £45 adults, £30 children
Llama trek experience based on a minimum of two adults - £90
Trek experiences last around two and a half hours
The prices for a week's stay in the cottages range from £370 low season in the Cider House to £640 high season in Pomona Cottage.
Pomona Cottage £430
Cider House £370
Pomona Cottage £530
Cider House £450
Pomona Cottage £640
Cider House £530