Berwyn Mountain Llamas is based in the next village along from where I was camping, although the llamas actually live right up in the hills, and when I phoned to book the trek I was given the directions to get there. The route involved driving up a steep and winding lane which was little more than a farm track not much wider than the van and as I got higher up I was just hoping I wouldn't meet something coming the other way as there were no passing places anywhere. But Sod's Law decreed that sure enough, on one of the steeper sections of the track, I came face to face with a car coming down. There was no way I could reverse so the elderly driver of the other car backed up several yards and tucked his vehicle in beside the gateway to a cottage to give me room to get past - and that's when I encountered the most obnoxious and verbally aggressive woman I've ever met.
As I inched the van slowly past the other car this woman, who was standing just inside the cottage gate, started frantically waving her arms at me to get me to stop, and when I wound the window down she started shouting at me - and believe me, there's no way I can possibly convey in type just how verbally aggressive she really was.
"WHERE ARE YOU GOING?? YOU CAN'T COME UP HERE, IT'S A PRIVATE LANE!!"
"I'm looking for Berwyn Mountain Llamas"
"WELL YOU CAN'T COME UP HERE, YOU'LL HAVE TO GO BACK!"
"Well these are the directions I was given" (holding up the paper I'd written them on)
"THAT DOESN'T MATTER, THIS IS A PRIVATE LANE!!" (So I'm now thinking I must somehow have taken a wrong turning off the road below)
Then she turned her attention to the other driver and pointing several times down the lane shouted at him "GO! GO ON, GO! GO!!" at which he set off and she turned her attention back to me.
"So am I on the right lane for the llamas?"
"YES BUT IT'S PRIVATE, YOU CAN'T DRIVE UP HERE, YOU HAVE TO TURN ROUND AND GO RIGHT TO THE BOTTOM AND PARK UP THERE!"
"So which way do I go from there?"
"BACK UP HERE, BUT YOU WALK! ANYWAY, YOU WOULD NEVER GET UP THE MOUNTAIN IN THAT VEHICLE!!"
"I'm sorry if I've driven up somewhere I shouldn't have but this is the way I was told to come, and there's no way I can reverse all the way back down again from here"
"WELL YOU CAN TURN ROUND IN MY DRIVEWAY BUT YOU MUST GO BACK!"
So she opened the double gates to allow me to turn the van round and I set off back down the lane. Not far from the end there was a short grass verge with just enough room to park the van under the trees; I didn't like the thought of leaving the dogs there but I couldn't take them with me and I figured out that if it was a private lane there'd be no-one going past anyway so they should be okay. So I set off walking back up the lane but by this time it had gone 10.30 and I was late; I had no idea how far I had to go once I got past that awful woman's cottage and I couldn't ring the lady with the llamas as I had no phone signal so I just had to keep walking and hope she didn't think I was messing her about.
A distance past the awful woman's cottage was a hairpin bend with another cottage set back off the lane; hopefully that was the llama place but no, there was no-one around and no sign of any llamas. On I went, round another hairpin bend with the lane getting rougher the higher I got, then eventually it levelled out and in the distance Carol, the llama lady, appeared through the trees leading two llamas. Thinking that I may have got the van stuck on one of the bad bends she had come down to find me - and I was so relieved to see her that I could have cried.
When I told her about my encounter with the awful woman she was appalled; it seems I'm not the first person to have been shouted at by the woman but my experience was by far the worst. Carol had no idea who the elderly couple in the other car could have been though as there were only two other cottages up that lane and she knew both residents, so maybe they had just lost their way. She also said that the lane is only private above and beyond the awful woman's cottage so she has no right to make people go back if they have a genuine reason for access.
Once I'd recovered from my long walk up the lane I changed into my wellies, leaving my trainers in the back of Carol's car at the very end of the lane, and we set off on our trek. I was leading Kubera, the bigger of the two llamas; he was lovely, very calm and easy to lead though he did like to snatch a mouthful of grass or tree foliage every now and again.
The trek took me up and diagonally across several fields and though I normally have a good sense of direction I didn't have a clue where I was other than that it was somewhere up in the Berwyn mountains. Every so often Carol would stop and point out several things of interest - fields divided by low stone walls which followed an ancient grid pattern, a badger sett in a hollow, the song of a willow warbler in a nearby tree - and the higher we climbed the better the views became. It's just a shame that it was such a grey day - with blue sky and sunshine I could have got some really lovely photos.
Halfway through the trek we had swapped llamas so I could have the chance of leading Eddie. Close to the highest point there was a large timber picnic shelter with a couple of benches so we stopped there for a few minutes to admire the view. The descent across that particular field was quite steep and as Eddie was a bit stronger than Kubera Carol said she didn't want me to reach the bottom faster than I wanted to go so we swapped llamas again.
The final part of the trek took me through a wooded area and along a gently sloping path which soon levelled out and eventually joined the lane close to where Carol's car was parked. Eddie and Kubera were led into their paddock, their headcollars were removed and they were free to do whatever it is llamas like to do; my llama trek was over.
Carol offered me a lift back down the lane to the van but I said I would walk back as I wanted to take a photo of the cottage on the bend, so she left me with the advice that if I ever go back to do another llama trek and the awful woman tries to stop me driving up the lane I should just ignore her and drive straight past - that's fine by me, I wouldn't fancy being shouted at a second time!
Finally back at the van I found both dogs were absolutely fine. They were curled up asleep so they mustn't have missed me too much but as they'd been on their own for longer than I'd intended I took them for a walk down to the end of the lane and back before setting off for the second part of my day. There was a place just outside Llangollen which I'd never been to before and though it was a grey day I wanted to check out the photo opportunities - if it was as nice as other people had told me it was then it may be worth a return visit some other time.