Walking an alpaca in the sunshine is a wonderful way to start the day, as Naomi MacKay and Alison Page discovered when they visited Park Hill Farm, in Tring.
Usually, both Alison and I have dogs on the end of a lead when we go for a walk, so we were up for trying something a bit different. So when Samantha Pegram got in touch, asking if we’d like to join her at the Park Hill Farm Alpaca and Unicorn Experience for an Alpaca Amble, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
The farm is really convenient for anyone living in Tring or surrounding villages – it’s on Northfield Road or at the end of Marshcroft Lane, if you’re walking only, and not far from the station. In fact, its location near the trainline means that visitors from London can also take part easily.
Once we’d parked in the yard, we walked up with Sam to find the three boys by their stable. Sam is an experienced horsewoman, but has now added a love of alpacas, and has been trained by AOA and BAS certified Alpaca Judge, Nick Harrington-Smith, in order to ensure that the animals are well cared for.
They certainly seemed very content and were very relaxed to meet two strangers. As we approached, the tallest one, Winston (full name Winston Churchill) was happily humming to himself. With him were Freddie (Frederick the 1st) and Albie (Prince Albert) – two best friends who were both born on the same day.
Once we had said hello, the boys got their harnesses on and we were ready for our walk. We had a lovely stroll around the field, stopping for them to enjoy some new grass and some nibbles. Sam has set up stopping stations around the field, where she will explain more about alpacas, where they are from, how they live in the wild and so on. Every day’s a school day!
We were also lucky to spot a white deer ambling through the trees at the side of the field – the deer are frequent visitors, and the alpacas have got used to them appearing occasionally.
The sun came out and it was just such a pleasant experience, walking alongside these beautiful creatures, stroking their soft necks and chatting to them and Sam and her husband Bill, who joined us for the walk
When we came back to the stable, we gave them each a scoop of food, and then they were let out into another field, alongside Mabel and Lucy, two ponies who were rescued by Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk and now spend their days in comfort. Their alter egos are two white unicorns, who are the magical centre of attention for children’s unicorn experiences. The girls clearly love attention, so must be in their element when they are groomed and pampered by young fans, and then taken for a walk around the field on the hunt for magical treasure.
We finished off our visit with proper barista coffees and the best chocolate fudge cake, sitting under the trees outside the Stable Shack Tea room. The little cafe has also become well-known for its afternoon teas, with home made cakes and sandwiches.
Another option is to enjoy an alpaca picnic. They set you up at your own picnic table (and picnic blanket!) in the alpacas’ paddock with a picnic basket filled with food and drink. You can enjoy your food surrounded by the friendly alpaca boys – and they’ll even leave you with some alpaca food, so they don’t pinch yours (especially Albie, the greedy one!).
If you are looking for something a little different to do, and want to get away from the stresses of everyday life, getting out in the countryside and enjoying time with these beautiful animals is the best kind of therapy.
Find out more at www.alpacaandunicornadventures.com.
- We have a chance to win a family Alpaca Amble (max 6 people) in the summer issue of Living magazine. Look out for the magazine dropping through your letterbox in the first week of June.