Walking with Alpacas – in Elstree

Despite threatening clouds, the weather stayed fine on Sunday 20th October 2019, when a small party from Cherry Lodge Cancer Care enjoyed the novel experience of walking with alpacas. We were the guests of Barry and Nathalie, of Pages Stud Farm and Cattery in Elstree, who invited our group to meet and walk with their alpaca herd.

Alpacas are usually kept in herds that graze in the Andes at 3,500m above sea level. By contrast, the Elstree herd is very happy in Hertfordshire at a mere 77m above sea level! People often confuse alpacas with llamas but they are smaller and more cuddly looking. They do, though, have a reputation for snorting, grumbling and screaming, etc – so we went well prepared for their vocalisation.

Led by alpaca handlers Sarah and Barbara, we took the herd through a field (to let them get accustomed to us) and then along the road to a bridle path by the side of Elstree airport (which sounded only fractionally less busy than Heathrow). Some of the alpacas were definitely less boisterous than others; Jean (see photo 6, below) described hers (Hugo) as very handsome but somewhat unpredictable, which was probably an understatement!

There is no doubt that everyone had great fun and all were thrilled to be given the opportunity to go on this outing, even though it made them use muscles they didn’t know they had. As well as alpacas, the farm has an assortment of other livestock (mostly rescue animals) and there was an opportunity for us to sit among the pigs, the chickens, and the goats. Rosie very much enjoyed her time with the young kids (photo 8). There are also miniature horses and mammoth rhea birds (which do not encourage being touched), tiny quails and guinea pigs. It was, though, the walking with alpacas that this outing was really all about.

Many thanks to Barry, Nathalie, Barbara and Sarah for making us all feel so very welcome, spoiling us and putting on a very lively afternoon tea.

Click on the small images below to see larger, complete photographs