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The Sketch

Away back when we were planning the holiday, Kas suggested we could go waling with alpacas. A couple of years ago we spent a couple of hours feeding them down at the Lakes Distillery and the kids loved it. The same company that keeps them and does the feeding at the Distillery also does the walks in Whinlatter. This was one of the few activities where I pre-booked tickets. They seemed quite busy and had limited spots, despite it not being the summer holidays, so I thought it was wise to “book early to avoid disappointment” as they used to say on the telly.

The Morning

The alpaca walk wasn’t booked until 3:30 in the afternoon, which meant we had quite a lot of day to fill up before then.

Kas filled her time by taking her bike out for a ride around various bits of Windermere. I spent much of the morning walking around Ambleside clearing up the few geocaches in town that I hadn’t already done. All apart from one, which became my proverbial Moby Dick. Anyway, bum to that one. Unsurprisingly, the kids spent their morning at home doing not very much.

When we were all back home, we took a walk around to the sandwich shop (now one of our favourite haunts) and bought some things for lunch. We had lunch at home rather than out, but it’s still nice to have someone else make the sandwiches for you.

This left us all good and ready to leave the house at about 1pm.

The Sweetie Shop

As we had plenty of time before meeting the alpacas, we drove into Keswick to attempt two now-traditional activities for our holidays in the Lake District. The first of these was to visit a shop on the market square to buy a load of chocolate-based goodies. This was achieved relatively quickly.

The second was for me to have a crack at another Moby Dick activity. I needed to complete a series of Adventure Labs in the town. I’d previously failed on these because of a combination of poor phone signal and lack of ability to spot the required information.

This time around I was determined they would not beat me. One set was a sequential one, so basically if you can’t do one stage you’re not able to move to the others. I found what I thought was the right information but again struggled with phone signal. I wondered if the pub just down the road had a free wi-fi. It did. So I sponged off that whilst standing outside. That meant I could complete this step, and the next one. For the third step I had to move down the road to a completely different pub, and at the final step I had enough of a phone signal to complete it. So still a bit frustrating to do, but I got them done.

Enough of Keswick

I called one of the kids to ask where they were and they were (conveniently) a bit further along the main road, having been drawn in by a tempting looking gallery containing artworks by a local artist. That turned out to be Kas’s holiday treat to herself.

We left about half an hour to get up to Whinlatter from Keswick. That turned out to be more than plenty, and it meant we had time for a quick service break before meeting up with the alpacas. Technically, we met first with their handlers, and were then escorted to their base, which was just off the main car park.

Meeting our Alpacas

The form was that we each got an alpaca to walk. There were about 10 in the group, and we had one each. These were all males. They keep the females elsewhere (in fact, I think the ones at the Lakes Distillery were females). Anyway, they keep them separate.

It turned out that they have individual names, and distinct personalities. I was assigned a mainly white-furred geezer Albert, who I from then onwards referred to as “Al”. Ami was assigned another white-furred one called Barney.

Venus was assigned a brown-furred fella called Milky Joe. His name, apparently, stems from the mess he used to make when they had to bottle feed him as a baby. Milky Joe was known for being a bit jittery, even by alpacas standards. Kas was assigned another brown-furred one called Michael. Michael is known for being Milky Joe’s very own fanboy. He wants to go everywhere that Milky Joe does, always follows and never leads, and gets upset if people or other alpacas shove inbetween them. His attention goes apparently unheeded by Milky Joe.


So enough of the introductions. We were asked to lead the alpacas in single-file and to try to ensure they didn’t eat any of the plants. We walked mainly around the gravelled paths of the forest, but some of the plants at the fringes aren’t great for alpacas, so no nibbling allowed. The walking pace was, I have to say, quite sedate. The animals are extremely cautious and are happy to walk in a straight line at a plodding sort of pace. The only downside was that they tend to attract the flies a little bit. I seemed to spend the whole time swatting flies of my head and arms. Apart from that it was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.

Time for a Rest

By the time we were done we were ready for a drink, so we went into the cafe at Whinlatter and had cold drinks, ice creams, and whatever else. It had been one of the warmest days of the holiday, so we felt we’d earned one.

For dinner we’d decided to try the Pheasant Inn in Bassenthwaite rather than cooking at home. It was Sunday, after all, and we didn’t fancy having to cook Sunday dinner whilst on holiday. In any case, it was well after 5pm when we were finished at Whinlatter. They found us a table fairly quickly and we had a decent meal. I don’t think any of us had the Sunday roast.

The drive home was uninspiring, and when we got back the girls mainly disappeared into their rooms for reading or snoozing. I sat in the lounge for a while to watch the highlights of England beating Australia in the Test Match. It was the first time we’d switched the TV on in the week we’d been there. The highlights were so good that I then found all of the daily highlights programme on catch-up and watched them back-to-back, which made a late night for me. Never mind. I’m on holiday.