Wednesday 10 July 2019

Llama Trekking in the Lake District with Once Upon a Llama

I was casually perusing the internet trying to decide what to do during our short break in the Lake District when I stumbled across Once Upon a Llama who offer llama trekking in the beautiful countryside of the Lakes. Have you ever heard of anything more up my street?

Llama Trekking in the Lake District with Once Upon a LLama
Of course, I immediately wanted to get involved and spent the next three days (I'm not even joking) wondering how on earth I'd manage to convince Simon, my adventure phobic husband, to not only go for a Lake District hike but to do it with a llama! Anyone who knows my husband will probably be very amused at the thought of Simon walking up a hill with a llama - I mean it just wouldn't ever happen would it?

Would it?

Llama Trekking in the Lake District Once Upon a LLama

I'm a very lucky lady because seeing how much it meant to me and how desperate I was to go Simon agreed to humour me and before he could change his mind I had booked tickets. I guess it's not the kind of activity that would be on everyone's bucket list but ever since enjoying an Alpaca Walk in Northumberland a few years ago I have always wanted to go on a proper llama trek - I couldn't believe my dreams were about to come true.

As well as the joy of hiking with a llama one of the other things that really appealed to me when booking our experience with Once Upon a Llama was that we would be getting a fully guided 2.5 mile walk in one of the most beautiful part of the Lakes. Simon and I have never been on a proper walk in the hills (I've always feared our inexperience and limited skills would see us getting lost in the middle of nowhere) so having the chance to finally go on a proper walk in the Lakes was very exciting.

Llama Trekking Once Upon a LLama
Llama treks take place Thursday to Sunday at 11:30 am and start at Little Town Guesthouse just outside Keswick, the drive to our meeting point took us down some very tiny roads with Simon breaking out into a bit of a sweat trying to navigate our car round some pretty terrifying corners whilst I gawped out the window talking endlessly about how beautiful it all was. It was quite an adventure and despite the lovely landscape I think we were both pretty relieved when we got to our destination in one piece. Parking for llama trekking is at the Guesthouse with plenty of spaces available and a £3.00 parking fee left in the honesty box.

Having travelled from Newcastle we were busting for the loo by the time we arrived which weren't terribly easy to find. Although there is a toilet in the guesthouse this is only available for customers of the tea room, llama trekkers use an outdoor loo which, although perfectly clean, was a little cold, dark and I'm pretty convinced there were spiders in there. Top tip, turn up early, head to the tea room for a cuppa and a scone (they do a decent one) then use their far fancier toilets while you're there.

Llama Trekking in Lakes Once Upon a LLama

Groups for llama trekking are kept small and there were nine in our group in total including a solo traveller from Australia, a Mum and Daughter and some friends visiting from China. It's a great place to make new friends - believe me nothing quite breaks the ice like being pulled up a hill by a llama.

Important safety rules first and we were taken straight to the llama field to meet our new buddies and get a briefing about dos and don'ts for hill hiking with furry friends in tow. Hearing stories about people accidentally dropping the lead for their llama and the team having to run about hills for 7 hours trying to retrieve them was quite fun - there was no way I wanted to be the person who accidentally dropped my llama lead!

Once Upon a Llama - Llama Trekking

There are two options when you book a llama trek with Once upon a Llama - you can either have a llama all to yourself for £50.00 or share a llama with a friend for £78.00. We decided to share and it was definitely the sensible option. We found it was so useful to have one of us with spare hands to carry the water or help remove coats and there was plenty of time for us both to have a go walking - the hike takes 2.5 hours and with a few stops for photos there's opportunity to swap over walking duties.

Our pal for the day was Frodo, a beautiful dark coloured llama with the most incredible huge dark eyes and a habit of stopping to eat at every available opportunity (mmm, sounds like someone else I know!)  Frodo is a natural follower so he was on his best behaviour when trekking behind a leader. There's a very clear hierarchy in llama land with the leaders having to march at the front of the group and the followers happily plodding along behind.  Try and break the order and the llamas soon let you know they're not happy.

Once Upon a Llama - Llama Trekking in Lakes
Our route for our trek was a nice, steady climb up Catbells, apparently one of the easiest walks in the Lake Districts, despite being told it was a bit of an easy hill I was still a little nervous. Having never been for a hill walk in the Lakes I was really hoping that we'd both be fit enough to make the journey, especially with a llama!

Our walk began along the road from the farm which attracted a fair bit of attention from passing walkers. If you ever want to know what fame feels like, go for a stroll with a llama - people take your photograph and stop you every few steps to ask you llama questions that you really don't know the answer to. We had been warned about this reaction and were under strict instructions not to let any strangers touch or take our llama so we did a few polite nods and smiles (I dread to think how many tourists photographs me and Frodo now feature in) and carried on our way.

Once Upon a Llama - Llama Trekking in Lake District

The first part of the climb was very gentle although still required a certain amount of concentration when I had a llama to look after. It took me a while to get used to Frodo and the idea that I was supposed to be walking him, he shouldn't be walking me. We soon got into a routine though and happily trotted our way up the hill. I didn't get a chance to admire the beautiful scenery, I was completely distracted by those beautiful big eyes and checking with every step that he was OK.

It wasn't long before our first photograph stop and we all got some special llama cookies to feed to our new friends. I'm pretty sure Frodo understands the word "cookies" because it was very impressive how quickly he looked up when he heard he was about to get a treat. Standing still with the llama is a great time to make friends, and although they are a bit wary of new human companions to start with, if you give them lots of reassuring strokes on the neck when you're stood still it isn't long before they start to trust you and if you're very lucky you may even be allowed a cuddle!

Once Upon a Llama - Llama Trekking Lake District

Our Once Upon a Llama Guide was fantastic with photograph opportunities and knew the best spots to position people to get a photograph with their llama and ensured that everyone had plenty of photographs of their special moment. Of course I had Simon, Instagram Husband extraordinaire with me, but our guide still ensured that we got plenty of photographs of the two of us with Frodo.

Once we were all rested it was time for the slightly trickier part of the walk, the stoney incline to the top of Catbells. Well, let me tell you, I thought I was fairly fit until I climbed Catbells with Frodo the Llama. I've never seen anyone climb up a hill so fast. He was up that hill like a shot with my little legs frantically trying to keep up with him. I muttered the whole way up about how I wish I was as fit as my llama and by the time we got to the top I definitely felt like we'd had a good work out. I'm just glad it wasn't too far to the top!

Once Upon a Llama in Lake District - Llama Trekking
We all needed to take off some layers and down water by the time we all reached the top and what a place to do it. The views down to Derwent Water from Catbells are just incredible and I can't believe this stunning place is so easily accessible by a short walk. I had always been put off doing any kind of Lake District walking, believing that the best views would surely involve hours and hours of hill climbing. I'm just so glad that Once Upon a Llama have opened my eyes to what is available even for the most inexperienced hiker.

By the time we had reached the top Simon had also bonded with Frodo so it was only fair that I handed over the lead to let my husband walk him back down the hill. If I had thought climbing up a hill with a llama was hard work, making my way down without one was even harder. Suddenly far more conscious of my climbing skills and where to put my feet on the stones I had to keep my momentum going at a pretty fair pace to stop the llama behind me suddenly appearing at my shoulder. I actually think being "chased" down a hill by a llama would be a great fitness class.

Once Upon a Llama in Lake District - Llama Trek
Joking aside, neither Simon or I are particularly fit and we both survived our llama treck but I would say you need to have a moderate level of fitness to be able to keep up with the llamas and truly enjoy your experience. Although no one gets left behind and there are plenty of stops when you need them, it is still a bit of a hike and the llamas like to move at a canny pace.

If you love getting out and about in the countryside, adore animals and want a really fun experience with a difference I highly recommend giving llama trekking with Once Upon a Llama a go. We had such a fantastic time and I am so glad that we booked a hike.

Once Upon a Llama in Lake District - Llama Treks
What you need to know:

  • Llama Treks with Once Upon a Llama costs £50.00 per person or £78.00 to share a llama with a friend
  • Treks last a minimum of 2.5 hours
  • Treks take place every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 am
  • The walk does involve rough terrain and a moderate climb - good fitness levels and sturdy walking boots are sensible
  • Dogs aren't allowed on walks and the experience is only suitable for 16 years or over
  • Hikes depart from Littletown Farm Guesthouse nr Keswick where you'll find parking, toilet facilities and a tea room
  • Book a Llama Hike here

Find Once Upon a Llama at:

017687 78328


  1. Brilliant :-) My husband proposed to me at the top of Catbells. I can't to see his face when I propose this as an anniversary treat.

    1. Ahhhh how lovely is that! OMG this has your anniversary written all over it, you must do it!

  2. Loving that you have used the word canny in this post! Also love that there's a Llama heirachy. Who knew? It looks like they are such wonderful characters x

    1. I'm using canny all the time at the moment, it's my new favourite! They have so much character, and they were definitely in charge!

  3. This looks like great fun, I would never have thought about doing something like this. I bet it was such a unique experience x

    1. I love doing things like this, it's such a unique way to get out and about exploring! Wondering what I can do next!

  4. I love how unique this is. And Keswick is one of my favourite places in the Lakes. Also, llama cookies sounds so cute xx

    1. I've never actually been to Keswick! I need to stop and explore next time!

  5. This looks amazing! It’s 100% on my autumn to-do list. And scones at the end are a must! Great post! :)

    1. The scones were definitely a nice little reward at the end!


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