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Take a walk with llamas in tow

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Trekking with llamas isn’t something normally associated with the Nottinghamshire countryside but that looks set to change thanks to a couple from Barnby-in-the-Willows.

Having moved to the village in November, Mr and Mrs Bruce Wright have brought with them their six llamas — Jose, Carlos, Rodrigo, Santos, Inti and Diego.

The couple, of Long Lane, run Wellington Lodge Llama Trekking, a business they set up in 1994 in Thetford Forest.

The venture has proved successful, attracting people from across the world, keen to stride out with the pack llamas, who carry essentials for the trek, such as food, drink, and spare clothing.

Llamas are said to be ideal walking companions, providing gentle and elegant company.

Mrs Ruth Wright (63) said people often became emotionally attached to the animals.

“They are great characters and they are all individuals,” she said.

“We wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

Mr Wright (66) previously a farmer, said they had the idea of setting up the trekking business after deciding to diversify away from traditional farming because of difficulties in the industry.

They started commercially trekking in Thetford in April 1994, while still owning their farm.

In October 1996 they moved the business to Staintondale in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, before settling in Barnby-in-the-Willows.

“We can see great potential here,” Mr Wright said.

“We enjoy meeting the people and we enjoy the walk. It’s good for us. It’s an enjoyable experience.”

They hope to start offering treks in the Newark area from Easter, although they are not yet sure of routes and these depend of permission.

Mr Wright said they were speaking to Nottinghamshire County Council about using bridleways, but would not go more than about 30 miles away for a trek.

Treks normally last for about four or five hours and walkers are provided with homemade meals, made with as much local produce as possible.

The llamas, all trained from a young age as pack animals, carry the refreshments, as well as stools and tables or tethers, which allow the llamas to graze during breaks.

The treks are designed for people of all ages, and the llamas can safely be led by children or the elderly.

The treks are even suitable for the blind.

Jose, who was one of the couple’s first llamas along with Carlos, usually leads the group.

“All of them are different,” Mr Wright said.

The couple give talks about llamas — taking the animals with them — and run training courses for owners or future owners.

Llamas are very social and live about 25 years. They are orginially South American pack animals that can grow up to 6ft tall.

Mr Wright said they were also looking for trek guides who could give details on various topics en route, such as archaeology and the history of the area.

Anyone interested can visit the website www.llamatreks.co.uk or email info@ll amatreks.co.uk

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