That’s what the walk leader predicted, and he may well have been right.
Last Saturday morning loomed with a slight break in the torrential rain (thank goodness – yesterday’s Walk the Wight turned into Wade the Wight, and I was really pleased we hadn’t gone for it this year when we watched a parade of soggy and dripping walkers plodding past as we drove to church, and apparently one of our school kids opened her jacket after walking the last four miles and removed her walker number from her jumper beneath, only for it to disintegrate in her hands!). We packed waterproof clothing and a flask in our rucksack, put the walking boots in the car, and set off for Jubilee Down – yet another of my favourite places, and yet one that we haven’t been to for years.
As we drew into the car park, Smudgelet and I in the Smudgemobile, we both felt our hearts leap as we found ourselves parking alongside a van from which there disembarked five rather unusual passengers – llamas from Wight Llama Treks. For the morning was to be spent walking the Downs with a llama.
It was a little bit of an extravagence, considering I am supposed to be being really careful with money at the moment, but it was an opportunity that neither Smudgelet nor I were ready to miss. And getting there early gave us the advantage of getting to know all the llamas before the others arrived, and also for Smudgelet to choose which one he wanted to accompnay us on our walk. He selected Manuel, the white one here with Kipper and Bruce.
And Manuel was rather fond of Smudgelet, too
The llamas were wonderful. They didn’t spit – well, only once, and that was with good reason. They were excellent company, and so funny. Bruce was supposed to be the leader, but Manuel wasn’t really impressed to be in second place and kept increasing his pace until he was in front, where he was quite happy. The others were classic, though. They too would get up a burst of speed and overtake, trotting along quite happily at the front until all of a sudden they’d realise there was nobody in front of them and panic until someone else had caught up and taken the lead! They were determined to be allowed to munch en route, despite us being instructed to prevent them from doing so except at the set munching stations.
It was absolutely freezing, especially for poor Smudgelet who had forgotten his coat (the wally!) but he turned to me at one point and said it was the best day of his life. I know how he feels – we really did bond with Manuel, as well as getting really quite fond of the other four too, and would love to walk with him again. We went at a pace of about 2 miles an hour, a nice gentle stroll with several stops for munching, to allow extremely perplexed horses to pass unmolested, and for rather extended toilet stops (when one goes, they all go!) which gave us a perfect chance to take in the gorgeous (if rather windswept) view.
It was a sad moment watching the llamas being led into their transport to go home – we watched and waited until the van was right out of sight…….. and then we hopped in the car and headed down to the field where we knew they lived (thanks to the Wightmeet treasure hunt and Rosamundi’s amazing llama-spotting skills) and raced to the south of the Island to wave to them again 😀