A Llama Trekking Adventure in the Beautiful Surrey Hills at The Merry Harriers
Families looking for a quirky way to connect with nature, while catching up on a little rest and relaxation, will find much to love about The Merry Harriers in Surrey. Zoey and her family checked in for a hike with a difference.
A Family-friendly Stay at The Merry Harriers: Check In
Situated near the picturesque village of Hambledon, nestled into the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Merry Harriers is a little off the beaten track so best reached by car, which takes around an hour from London. It is, however, a gorgeous journey - weaving along country roads past chocolate box cottages, which include the house featured in The Holiday film.
Arriving at this former 16th century inn, we’re given a warm welcome and shown up to the recently refurbished family wing. This sectioned off unit, with a private entrance and exposed oak beams, includes an ensuite double bedroom with views of the rolling meadows, plus a twin room for the kids, also with a shower room and a glimpse of the famous llamas from the window – much to my children’s delight! Egyptian cotton sheets and a welcome tray with homemade cookies adds a touch of luxury. A cot or z-bed can be added to accommodate a family of five, for an additional £10 per night.
Outside of the main inn, you’ll also find a cluster of five shepherd’s huts in a secluded field, ideal for groups of friends or multi-gen gatherings. Each has outdoor firepits and cosy log burners, for keeping snug in the cooler months. The Merry Harriers also has six garden rooms overlooking paddocks, finished with llama-inspired furnishings.
No Drama Llama: A Furry Trek Through the Surrey Countryside
As charming as the accommodation is, we’re really here to make some four-legged friends! After a good night’s sleep, we’re up with the larks, eager to start our llama trekking adventure.
Head herder Clara is there to meet us at the gate, where she introduces the woolly pack and talks us through each of the llama’s unique personalities. The ratio is two people to each llama, so I team up with my eldest daughter as we steer Champagne, our sweet natured but constantly-munching llama, through the fields. Clara takes the lead and we fall into line behind, strolling at a gentle pace through shaded woodland and fields of heather.
Once you become accustomed to walking beside the long-necked animals, llama trekking soon becomes surprisingly relaxing. As we return back to base, I’m amazed to check my watch and see we’ve been walking for almost two-hours – without a single complaint from the children about tired legs!
Usually, the llamas carry picnic packs on their backs, but due to the warm weather we decide to lunch in the pub garden, shaded under a tree. A wicker basket overflowing with a delicious spread of doorstop sandwiches, crudités and homemade brownies is laid out on a chequered tablecloth, which we hungrily tuck into while gazing over at our new llama companions in the nearby field.
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It's worth noting that you don’t have to be an overnight guest to join Merry Harriers’ llama trekking excursions. A trek and two course lunch costs £89 for an adult and £55 for children aged 8-15. It’s not recommended for kids under 8, although babies in slings are welcome to join the fun. There’s even the occasional session of yoga llamas >> Read here for more information Merry Harriers
Escape to the Country at The Merry Harriers: The Food
The Merry Harriers has put itself on the map as a foodie destination, with a farm-to-table menu that taps into the local surroundings. The children’s offerings include homecooked bangers and mash and a mini roast dinner on Sundays, while adults can feast on tasty classics such as shepherd’s pie or sirloin steak smothered in a rich peppercorn sauce, finished with a comforting crumble and custard.
While the adults finish off their meals, kids are free to roam in the fenced-off lavender fringed garden, which includes swings and a giant chess set. Dogs are also welcome in the country cottage garden and can also stay overnight in certain rooms.
Breakfast is a hearty affair, with crushed avocado on granary toast and smoked salmon and creamy scrambled eggs, alongside an extensive spread of child-pleasing cereals and juices.
The Merry Harriers: What to do Nearby for Families
There are plenty of attractions within an easy drive of the hotel. At the family-owned Sky Park Farm, children can let off steam and tackle a treetop walkway at the onsite adventure playground. Be sure to buy a bag of food from the kiosk to feed the resident deer, before stopping for lunch at the farm’s sweet café, which also serves children’s lunch packs.
History buffs should stop off at Arundel Castle, where there’s often interactive living history displays at the weekend. For something more active, there’s miles of scenic walking and cycling routes on the doorstep, or explore the cobbled side streets of pretty local market towns, including Petworth and Haslemere.
Llama Trekking at The Merry Harriers: The Lowdown
Our weekend at The Merry Harriers felt like we’d truly escaped to the country and we could easily have spent a few more days repeating the sleep, eat, walk routine that we’d slipped into with ease. But the real highlight was sharing the experience of llama trekking as a family. On our final morning, the kids ran down to the paddock to bid farewell to the llamas as if they were lifelong friends. We’ll hopefully meet them again – perhaps we’ll even get zen at the next llama yoga event!