Trekking with Llamas, Pembrokeshire Style.

resting llamas

When we came across a piece in the local paper about Matt and Alexandria and their Llamas we immediately asked them to tell us more. Well here it is. Sounds delightful! We are hoping to hear more from them soon.

Pembrokeshire Llamas is a small llama farm run by Matt & Alexandria Yorke. It is the oldest active camelid trekking centre in West Wales and is based in Rhydwilym – a wooded valley concealed just south of the Preseli mountains. The farm has existed for several hundred years and is known as Glanrhydwilym (‘the bank of Wilym’s ford’).

The farm house is a former manse, linked historically to the venerable Rhydwilym Baptist Chapel which lies further down the valley. Rhydwilym was the first Baptist chapel in West Wales and remains the oldest active Baptist chapel in the world. One of the two main Pembrokeshire rivers – the Black Cleddau – rushes along the shores of the chapel.

Matt and Alex moved to Glanrhydwilym in January 2016 to live closer to family and with the aim of living a quieter more healthy existence – and of course to pursue a long held dream to live with llamas.

They first started working with llamas around 2012 and found the experience to be incredibly relaxing. Both held an ambition to one day live with llamas, but did not expect it to be any time soon.

 In 2015 however fate intervened and that ambition became reality far sooner than they could ever have imagined.

In 2015 Matt lost all vision in one eye for half the year, experiencing severe head pains. Fortunately he later recovered some of his sight – but with the symptoms being so heavily linked with multiple sclerosis, the situation inevitably led to a question that everyone must ask themselves sooner or later:

If you are going to do one thing with your life before it is too late – so that you can look back on your life with absolutely no regrets – one thing that you really want to do above all else – one aim that will make you happy regardless of the cost or likely impossibility of being able to achieve it – what would it be?

The answer in this case was to live with llamas.

A very swift house sale later, Matt and Alex had moved to Pembrokeshire and were still putting up fencing as their first llamas were being delivered down the drive. The llama trekking venture went live much sooner than originally planned with huge  and immediate interest .

Consequently the business is still rapidly evolving. A visitor centre and shop are both in production, in addition to a few other exciting top secret llama projects currently underway that they hope to announce in the next few months.

Recently, they have started supplying their llamas for weddings, which has been a massive success and a huge hit with the brides.

More llamas are due to arrive soon (just waiting births!) as capacity has become an issue in the Summer with treks selling out months in advance.

In addition to the llamas, the farm is home to two pigs, geese, a tortoise, several hedgehogs, a parrot, guinea pigs, an attic full of bats, twelve not-so-feral cats (who now sleep on the bed), and one two year old human – Macsen!

Matt is a regional coordinator for the British Llama Society (BLS), covering Wales and liaising with the Welsh Assembly. This varied role involves working with all BLS members in Wales on anything llama-related and offering advice, experience and help, in addition to working with the Welsh Government on camelid welfare and TB testing.

Matt has also recently taken on the role of Llama Rehoming Officer, coordinating with BLS members who need to find new homes for llamas – usually at short notice.

He hopes one day to be able to personally re-home any llama in need and is currently exploring charitable options in this area and seeking donors who may be interested in financing the initial phase of this project.

Have a llama who needs a home? Interested in booking a trek, or adopting a Llama…or just want to  know more? Contact Matt at their Website:  https://llamas.wales

A question many people ask: Do llamas spit?

Not at people!

Just as dogs can bite and cats can scratch and horses can kick, so llamas can spit – but this is predominantly amongst themselves to maintain a pecking order and to maintain their own space.

The vast majority will only do so at humans in very rare and very particular circumstances – such as if they have been incorrectly reared (i.e. hand reared instead of left with their mother – in these scenarios the young llama grows up thinking that all humans are llamas, and therefore thinks it is okay to use normal llama specific behaviour such as spitting). Llamas can also spit if they are badly treated, or are put through situations that they find excessively stressful. Spitting is traditionally associated with ‘zoo llamas’. If we were confined to a zoo then we would probably start spitting too!

In summary it is really a much over-hyped characteristic, mostly found in some zoo or farm park situations where they are all too commonly hand-reared or over-handled as youngsters. It is usually irrelevant to owners’ and trekkers’ day-to-day experience of their llamas.

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