I recently visited Thornwood for a team building and wellbeing afternoon with my college. The farm is near Oxenhope, surrounded by beautiful moors, woodland and a reservoir. Usually, when the words ‘team building exercise’ is uttered, I inwardly groan. I don’t like forced ‘icebreaker’ exercises that just end up making everyone feel uncomfortable. However, my ears pricked up at the mention of an Alpaca trek and playing in the woods. Just my kind of thing and I thought it would be a laugh with my new class mates.
We arrived at Thornwood and were first greeted by a lovely cat, followed by Lucy who runs the farm. We were taken down to a field and introduced to the friendly sheep, including Herbert, who is a bit of a celebrity and can be walked by children. They all came running when they saw us, and we all got involved feeding them. I’ve never actually stroked a sheep before, but they were all quite friendly. From the sheep field we walked up to see the ducks and hens. The ducks were funny as they all lined up to walk down the path, almost as if they were escorting us.
After spending time with the hens and ducks was the moment I had been waiting for… ALPACAS! I’ve wanted to walk an alpaca for years but never had the opportunity. Lucy has 18 gorgeous alpacas and gave us an informative talk all about them and the history of her alpaca trekking business. Once they had been given their head halters it was time for the alpacas to meet the class. There were enough for us to have one each. My alpaca was called Emlyn and he was gorgeous. I was a little alarmed at first as he led me over to some bushes for a quick nibble. I was worried about controlling him, but he was well behaved and I soon got used to it. They don’t like their heads stroking but you can stroke down their necks with the back of your hand. He had such lovely fur! We all set off for a trek with our alpacas. It was quite funny at times as different people were being led in different directions as the alpacas saw something they wanted to eat. We all soon got the hang of it and took the opportunity for alpaca selfies. I loved it but all too soon and it was time to take them back to their pen. I’d fallen a bit in love with Emlyn and his big brown eyes!
After the alpacas we went into the woodland for some bush craft activities. Divided into little groups we had to get a fire going, collecting twigs and branches from around the woodland. Our group had a fabulous fire, it took a bit to get going but we managed to make some s’mores on it that were delicious. Everything tastes better outdoors especially if you’ve built the fire to cook it.
I really enjoyed my afternoon at Thornwood. I came home smelling of campfire, with rosy cheeks and dirty hands and I absolutely loved it. Getting outside is certainly good for my wellbeing and it was nice to share the experience with my new college friends. I was rather in love with Emlyn and have dropped lots of hints to Hubby about an adoption pack for Christmas. The kids overheard though and thought that it’s like when you adopt a cat. I heard them discussing where Emlyn might live in the garden!!
My college paid for us to visit Thornwood as part of a team building and wellbeing afternoon. All views are however my own and I’ve received no incentive to write this. I just wanted to share with you the amazing afternoon I had.
Have you been on an alpaca trek or walked an unusual animal? Let me know in the comments.