Dartmoor National Park, only an hour from the the beautiful South Devon coast, is the perfect place for family hikes. With the famous Dartmoor tors creating a broody, dramatic backdrop, it’s a stunning place with plenty of easy walking trails and incredibly, the opportunity for llama and alpaca walking experiences – guaranteed to create an unforgettable day’s hike.
Dartmoor Llama Walks offer short walks on Dartmoor with llamas as company. Their 2 hour ‘Hot Chocolate Walks’ run throughout the Winter and are perfect for little legs. We were lucky enough to tag along on one their ‘Hot Chocolate Walks’ a couple of weeks ago where we developed ‘llama love’!
Why llama walking is perfect for you!
Looking for something different? Struggling to inspire your kids to get walking? Or want to enjoy the Dartmoor Tors in peace? Then llama walking, my friend is definitely for you. In fact, with permanent grins etched onto our faces for the entire 2 hour walk, I dare anyone not to love llama walking.
When I first told my tribe we were off to review llama walking on Dartmoor, they seemed slightly nonplussed. As the big hiker of the family I’m always on the lookout to inspire my kids to walk further. My 9 year old seems to easily manage 3 hour hikes by my side in the Alps, binoculars poised to spot ibex and other beasts, but hiking in Devon for her, seems to be less of a thrill. The other, my 6 year old, is limited with her walking from her mild cerebral palsy, so hiking as a family is always challenging for us and we have to know our limits.
Queue llama walking. Bingo.
When I first chanced upon the Dartmoor Llama Walks website researching a recent post 5 Autumn Adventures in Devon for Adventuring Families, I thought I’d hit the jackpot. Llamas. Short walk. Dartmoor. Surely a win win combo?
Dartmoor Llama Walks
We meet Diane and Steve from Dartmoor Llama Walks in a small car park set into the heather & bracken amid the moors up high on Dartmoor. A group is gathering enquiringly around the llamas – clearly a crowd magnet wherever they go. Immediately my girls’ faces light up – llamas! Hooray – the penny drops of what I’ve been banging on about for the last week and suddenly they can’t get out the car quick enough to meet their new furry friends.
Diane and Steve, who’ve been running Dartmoor Llama Walks for over 10 years (how have I just heard about this now?) introduce us to our walking partners and through a quick safety talk we discover where (and where not) to stroke the llamas, how to lead them, and what to do if they spit! The girls are infatuated already. Hooray.
My 9 year old is assigned Polo, an 11 year old fluffy white llama, whilst Bo, my little one is given Logan, the alpaca to walk. Half the size of llamas, Logan, one of their herd of 13 alpacas (back at their farm) is the only one allowed out on the short walks on Dartmoor. He’s a perfect match for my 6 year old who is by now squealing in delight.
And we’re off. It’s a gentle 2 hour walk only covering around 3 miles but taking in some breathtaking scenery of rugged moorland in all it’s Autumnal glory. Dartmoor has many faces from deep hidden gorges packed with mossy trees and raging rivers to vast moorland undulating for as far as the eye can see with rocky pinnacles punctuating the horizon. Today it’s a serious moorland adventure and at times with the dramatic brooding sky punctuated by godly beams of sunlight, it seems otherworldly and rather Lord of Ring-esque.
We’re teetering on central Dartmoor here on the vast moor, just a stone’s throw from the tiny picturesque village of Poundsgate. Incredulously up here you can even spy the distant Atlantic beyond Torquay, only an hour away. Steve, local to the area, is a wealth of information as we saunter along and he points out the Dartmoor tors on the horizon one by one.
Buckland Beacon stands high at 382m, where it’s rumoured the Spanish Armada was spotted from. I’d heard about Buckland Beacon – it has the 11 commandments carved into a hunk of granite. It’s also one of a range of fire beacons stretching across Dartmoor. Hay Tor, Sandle Tor and Yarr Tor are all pointed out in the distance. We’re also apparently walking through a site littered with bronze age artefacts.
The girls are happy as larry as we potter along with our llamas on leads. Engrossed in their fantastic beasts, it’s just wonderful to walk along in peace, bask in the scenery and chat llama talk with Diane.
We gradually ascend a gentle hill towards Sharps Tor ahead of us, our designated hot chocolate vantage point. Much to the delight of my girls, on the way up, we stop at a regular urinating spot for the llamas, to which they all relieve themselves one by one for a surprisingly lengthy release!
At the top with a 360 panoramic view of Dartmoor, it’s time for a spot of llama husbandry. The girls help tether up the animals with Steve making them secure and then we settle down for delicious and a most welcome hot chocolate topped with lashings of hot chocolate AND marshmallows. Diane clearly knows the way to my children’s hearts and then from out of a tupperware Diane brandishes homemade brownies!
Once we’ve downed our hot chocolate, the girls enjoy scrambling up and over the tor. Huge, granite slabs, stacked up, create a natural look out. Us grown ups absorb the majestic scene before us. Beasts grazing contentedly, a gentle wind blowing, rusty bracken and heather the colour of plums stretch for miles before us. It doesn’t get much better than this. Dartmoor – one of the wildernesses of England. A wild, rugged beauty abound with legends, described by poets and writers old and new.
Gathering our animals, we slowly potter back the twenty minutes or so back to the car park. I feel rather melancholy that our morning with our new found friends has gone in the blink of an eye and it’s soon time to say goodbye. The girls are still on a llama high as we turn into the car park and lead the llamas back into the trailer.
Would we walk llamas again? Absolutely. We cherished this new adventure. An easy, non-challenging, extremely fun activity that we would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone, kids or no kids. And no, they didn’t spit!
Dartmoor Llama Walk run the Hot Chocolate Walks most weekends and school holidays throughout the Winter. Check their website for dates or call up – Diane’s happy to book through the week too. The hot chocolate walk is ideal for young kids, providing they are able to walk the distance (no rides on llamas I’m afraid).
Dartmoor Llama Walks also offer longer routes such as the 2.5-3 hr cream tea walk or a 4 hr half day option exploring longer walking trails on Dartmoor. The minimum age for the longer walks is 8 years old.
Llama Walk Prices & Info
Hot Chocolate Walks/10.30am departures/£30 per adult & £18 per child/ 2 hours
Cream Tea Walk/2pm departure/£35 per adult & £20 per child/2.5-3 hours/min age 8
1/2 day Walk/10-11.30 departure/ £50 per adult & £30 per child/4 hours/min age 8
For more information contact Diane or Steve at Dartmoor Llama Walking on 01364 631481
Have you trekked or walked with llamas? Tell us about your llama experiences. Do you love Dartmoor – tell us why.