Alpaca your bags because the alpacalypse is coming! Sorry I couldn’t resist, as there are so many alpaca puns out there!
Not many people can say that they have walked an Alpaca can they? You can imagine me asking my bemused colleagues: “guess what I’m doing this weekend!? …. I’m walking an alpaca!”
I had read about the experience online and thought that I wanted in on the action as I had never seen an alpaca in real life before. So I begged my boyfriend to agree to go with me. The Alpaca Trek was being held at Reuthe’s – “the lost gardens of Sevenoaks”, which I had never even heard of before despite living in Sevenoaks for 17 years.
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Reuthe’s (pronounced like “reuters”) is a bit of a hidden gem. Set in 11-acres of ancient woodland, Reuthe’s was the home of Mr Gustav Reuthe who emigrated to England over 100 years ago to escape Jewish persecution in Germany. With a curiosity for the exotic, Reuthe embarked on many expeditions to China and the Himalayas where he discovered never-seen-before species of plants, which he brought back to Reuthe’s and which still thrive there today. Reuthe’s is a horticulturalist’s dream with many rare flowers and plants which only exist in these gardens.
If you are local or a born-and-bred Sennockian, you would have driven past its unassuming entrance hundreds of times without noticing it. Reuthe’s is located in Seal Chart off the main road, down an unmade road and as you disappear from the busy road down the tree-lined drive, you feel like you are leaving civilisation behind and entering a magical woodland.
Meeting the alpacas
Alpacas are bigger than I thought they would be (bigger than me!) and l have to admit, I was rather apprehensive around them – especially when I seemed to catch one of the alpaca’s attention, who then proceeded to stare at me with a mystified and curious look on his face. I did the awkward British thing and looked away immediately when we made eye-contact. A couple of seconds later I peeked back at him to see he was still staring at me – and he was!
Especially as Oliver explained that if you happened to be standing behind them then you might be karate kicked! After a while though you get used to them as they get used to you, and when you stroke them, their fur is thick like you would expect to find on a rocking horse.
First, you’ve got to catch the alpaca. You do this by walking towards ‘Puccino’ and ‘Alcapone’ with open arms and herd them into a corner. Once they are captured they are put on a lead and you make your way up the hill and into the wilderness.
Alpacas are social creatures and happiest when in the company of fellow alpacas, that’s why there are two at Reuthe’s as they would die of loneliness if they didn’t have a friend, explained Oliver.
Oliver takes the lead with the tour and you stop every now and then and he will tell you about the alpacas, and about the grounds and its history. Overall, it is a really fun and alternative thing to do in a place which you wish you had known about sooner!
We finished the day off with a lovely coffee in the café.
I will definitely be coming here again for a coffee and a walk around and they have different fitness camps and workshops which would be really fun to take part in. You can also book party packages with the alpacas for children, although I am sure it is perfectly acceptable for 26-year-olds and over to have an alpaca party….