The hill was barely visible through the sudden mist that had descended to shroud the morning, a hill we needed to climb. There was, though, no sign of a path by which to reach it…and no-one in this wild landscape who could tell us which way to go…
‘There is a Llama in the next field!’
I smile nonchalantly, determined not to fall for that one.
‘There cannot be a Llama in the next field Wen, because we are in the North Yorkshire Moorlands and not the Mountains of Peru.’
Still some distance ahead, Wen turns back to look into the field and then back to me. ‘Not only is there very definitely a Llama in the next field. It is now looking directly at us.’
‘There cannot be a Llama…’ I start to remonstrate again but then I catch up to Wen and look into the next field… at the Llama… which appears to be waiting for us. ‘…It appears to be waiting for us.’ Wen shrugs, turns and sets off down the slope toward the Llama.
‘Better not keep it waiting too long.’
‘It may have a message for us’
If I am consciously following a woman who is about to engage a Llama in conversation, which I certainly appear to be, it does not impinge too negatively upon my thought processes. To be perfectly honest I am more interested in the reaction of the Llama. Will it turn and run like sheep do? If it is going to turn and run, it is not showing any visible signs yet and Wen is within thirty or so yards of it now and closing with considerable purpose. Albeit there is a gate barring the exit from this field and the entrance into the next so she will have to slow down to get beyond that.
At about this point I also notice that there is a family of horses to the left of the gate which had previously been shielded by tree cover. A mare and two young foals. They are a lovely deep, shiny chestnut colour. They too are watching the scene unfold with an inordinate amount of interest and they too show no signs of bolting. It strikes me that the meeting between Livingstone and Stanley could not have been more fraught with impending tension and uncertainty. Thankfully, Wen does slow down and stop when she reaches the gate, resting her hand upon it and taking a much needed breather. The Llama has not moved a muscle, not one, and has watched Wen’s progress, and now mine, with something that can only be described as mild curiosity.
I too am a little out of breath so I sit on one of the cross slats of the fence that runs to the gate, a little to the right of Wen and the horses who are sidling towards her for a nosy.
Wen is far too intent on our friend the Llama to notice the now rapid approach of one of the foals, until that is it starts to nibble her ear. She yelps and moves towards me past the gate.
‘Ow, that hurt!’ says Wen.
‘I think they want you to go into the other field,’ I laugh.
‘Give us a hand then.’
I help Wen over the fence into the Llama’s field. And then follow. It is definitely the Llama’s field. He has still not budged. And as Wen advances to within no more than four feet of him he edges a little closer as if to say, ‘there and no further’.
‘Yees, you’re beautiful aren’t you?’ says Wen to the Llama.
Now Llama’s don’t understand English, obviously, but as surely as I am sitting here typing this, he does begin to preen when Wen compliments him on his beauty. So I am thinking, well, he has maybe picked up on the tone in the vibration of Wen’s voice and is responding to that. His keepers probably do that type of thing all the time… when they’re about to feed him.
‘I bet you know the way to the top of Our Sacred Hill don’t you, Beautiful!’
Lammas nods. Without a word of a lie, Lammas the Llama nods an affirmative to a direct question. Okay, so Wen was also nodding, and so he could just have been copying her. Llama, see… Llama do and all that.
‘Which way is it then, Gorgeous?’
Lammas turns his head …and looks… and nods to the left.
Lammas repeats the look… and the nod… to the left. Now you know Wen by now so it is highly likely that she asked three times and got three exactly similar responses and this is indeed what she insists happened…. But, well perhaps I had buried my head in my hands in disbelief at this point or perhaps… because … well… for whatever reason… I wasn’t paying close enough attention… I don’t know… but…personally… I only heard… and saw two… and not three questions and responses. But either which way it is still not something that really ought to be happening in Yorkshire …or Peru …or anywhere else for that matter. But what are you supposed to do if a Llama has given you directions on how to get up a Sacred Hill?…
Extract from The Heart of Albion: Tales from the Wondrous Head, Stuart France & Sue Vincent, the second book in the Triad of Albion, an exploration of some of the sacred places, myths and legends of an ancient land.