Former National Geographic staffer Sarah Louise Galbraith is traveling around U.K. and writes to us about an unlikely creature living in the English countryside.
When first arriving to the Old King Street Farm, located on the English side of the England/Welsh border just a few miles from Hereford and Abergavenny, guests may expect to be greeted by grunts and snorts from animals typically associated with farms–pigs, sheep, cows, perhaps the odd rooster or two. But in the heart of the Welsh Marches, you’re more likely to encounter a rather more unusual animal that typically makes its home not in the heart of the British Isles, but rather in the heart of the Andes in South America: the llama.
Old King Street Farm is run by Amanda Huntley and Robert Dewar, and home to not one, not two, but fourteen llamas who live in this stunning part of England. Holiday makers who visit the farm have a unique the opportunity to get up close and personal with these kind-hearted beasts by participating in a llama trek. With half- and full-day treks, the outings are perfect for explorers of all ages.
Arriving to the farm mid-morning, you’ll be just in time to help round-up, halter, and groom the llamas before setting off on a llama trek through beautiful countryside. All of the llamas are impressively named–in true National Geographic spirit–after British standing stone circles, including Brodgar, after the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney, and Avebury, located in Wiltshire. No doubt that after spending a day at this family-friendly, sustainable farm with such aptly named animals you will be inspired to learn more about the llamas’ archaeological namesakes and adventure beyond well-known Stonehenge to discover these remarkable heritage sites for yourself.
Setting off on the trek I was a bit wary of my new furry companion Doll Tor, affectingly known as Dolly, who was on her first proper trek off the farm. Dolly, a large llama with a bushy coat, was a true natural, happily humming besides me and negotiating the occasional mud puddle with more grace and ease than myself. She liked to look at the scenery, so we would often stop to take in the gorgeous green hills and watch the sunlight shift through scattered clouds. By the time we made it back to the farm two hours later, I’ll admit, I was unabashedly in love with not only the landscape but with my llama, and envisioning how I could bring Dolly home with me.
Luckily for me and other guests who have similarly fallen for their new furry friends and the farm, the llamas at Old King Street Farm have their own blog, so readers can keep up with the daily lives of Dolly and the rest of her friends.
Beyond llamas, there is also much to do in the area, including visiting the book town of Hay-on-Wye, world famous for its thirty secondhand and antiquarian bookshops, as well as for its annual Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts. Venturing further you can explore many historic villages and shops in nearby towns, including castle ruins, weekday markets, and more. Since Old King Street Farm also offers holiday stays in beautiful two- and four-person cottages, guests can stay overnight for a short break or a week at a time, allowing plenty of time to discover the hidden local gems.
Photo: Sarah Louise Galbraith