With an adorably comical appearance and their naturally calm and gentle nature, alpacas make the perfect wind-down companions
Have you ever hankered to spend time with alpacas? It might not be your first thought for a relaxing day out, but it’s fast becoming a sought-after experience across the UK. Campsites and farms are cashing in on the craze, setting up their own ‘meet the alpacas’ and ‘walking with alpacas’ experiences.
More recently, Nick and Lucy Aylett of Rosebud Alpacas in South Molton, Devon are pioneering ‘alpaca yoga’, where you can undertake a yoga class in an alpaca field! The classes even offer guests the chance to meditate and picnic with the herds.
So, why alpacas? Apart from their adorably comical appearance, (I’d call it a cross between a baby giraffe and a teddy-bear), their naturally calm, gentle nature makes them the perfect companions when you want to unwind.
If I learned one thing from my recent alpaca walking experience in Suffolk, it’s that it’s not a pursuit for adrenaline junkies. Alpacas like to take things slow, and you have no choice but to take it slow with them! Being around them is a tranquil experience, and I can absolutely see how alpaca yoga could work wonders in helping you de-stress.
Perhaps it’s because everyday life, generally, is so busy, that more relaxing activities are becoming the go-to thing for couples, families and groups alike. We crave a bit of quiet time, something that soothes the soul.
If it’s something you’ve never tried, I recommend you leave your watch in the car and just chill with these incredible creatures for a while. There’s a host of places up and down the country that allow you to join a group walk experience, or book an exclusive walk for you or your family.
Gift vouchers for alpaca experiences are available at all of them, if you think this would make the perfect present for an animal-loving friend.
The average price for an alpaca walking experience is around £25 per person. Some offer additional extras such as afternoon tea.
Here are a few we’ve found:
Church Farm is a truly magical place where you can meet not only their herd of friendly alpacas, but also goats, chickens, donkeys and Ralph the pig. Their Unicorn Alpaca Walks include a wander around the hobby farm, where you can meet and feed their various animals. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay with the kids, this is a perfect setting with unique accommodation. Go glamping in a traditional yurt, book a night in their hand-crafted treehouse or cosy up in their woodland cabin or railway carriage!
Lucky Tails Alpacas is a small, friendly farm run by Sarah and Stuart. It’s situated in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside on the borders of Birmingham, Staffordshire and Leicestershire. It is home to some of the very best alpacas in the country with genetics from all around the world including show-winning black, grey and fawn studs.
Lucky Tails also has a collection of Valais Blacknose Sheep, described as the cutest sheep in the world. These rare sheep are imported from Switzerland and there are only a few thousand left worldwide!
Charnwood Forest has a breeding herd of alpacas and offer a range of experiences for visitors including a 90-minute alpaca walk, a sparkling afternoon tea with 60-minute alpaca walk, or a ‘Cria watch’ (baby alpacas) experience which is particularly suitable for younger visitors or those who are unsure if an alpaca walk is right for them.
Spring Farm has around 125 alpacas and five llamas. Their two-hour experience includes an introduction to Spring Farm and a 50-minute walk, where you can learn more about the alpacas as well as Spring Farm’s wildlife-friendly farming methods. Hopefully, you’ll be able to spot some of the wildlife they have encouraged to thrive here as you go.
Spring Farm also has a small shop selling handmade gifts and 100% Spring Farm alpaca goods. A perfect memento to take home.
When former solider, Terry, and his children’s author and crafter wife, Emma, moved from Manchester to Keswick, they decided to make good use of the land around them by rearing alpacas. They now have a herd of more than 80 and offer inclusive alpaca walking experiences, adapting their walks to accommodate visitors with mobility issues or disabilities. Terry and his Woolly Army have appeared on Salvage Hunters and ITV and BBC News, and have featured in The Telegraph, Diply and Love Travel.
They also sell hand-knitted alpaca wool goodies and kits to knit your very own alpaca!
Beacon Alpacas are experts in the care and breeding of alpacas. They offer training courses in how to look after these unique animals – so, if you want to give alpaca farming a go yourself, this could be just the place for you! Their two-hour alpaca walking experiences offer fantastic views of the White Horse at Kilburn and the Vale of York on clear days. They also cater for special occasions and can provide alpaca gifts, flowers, cakes or champagne to make someone’s day even more special.
Hammonds Farm is a luxury Bed and Breakfast in the Stroud valleys, the perfect place to make more of your alpaca walking experience by turning it into a weekend break.
Located near the pretty Cotswold market town of Stroud, Hammonds Farm is nestled in 100 acres of grassy farmland, resident to a large herd of alpacas, small flocks of Cotswold and Zwartbles sheep and two much-loved horses, Betty and her foal Waffle. Their alpaca walking experiences run from June through to October, with exclusive walks available for groups of five or more.
Wyld Court Alpacas is a small alpaca farm, breeding Huacaya alpacas. Their alpaca treks are around an hour and a half long, walking along local paths and wooded byways in the beautiful Berkshire countryside. The trek includes a bag of alpaca snacks, so you can stop and give your furry friend a treat (and take some selfies) along the way.
Yew Tree Alpacas offers a range of alpaca experiences, which can include a full lunch, afternoon tea or just refreshments. The walks are out and about in the lovely East Hertfordshire countryside on local footpaths and tracks and last around 45 minutes. For groups of eight to 20, you can book an exclusive package with lunch or afternoon tea in a marquee, overlooking the alpacas’ grazing field. There’s also an opportunity to buy alpaca yarns and handmade products through Yew Tree Alpacas’ gift shop.
Hemscott Hill Farm has various accommodation space available, should you want to prolong your stay and include your alpaca walk as part of a longer break. You can book a cottage, a bunkbarn or cabin, or bring your own tent or camper van and pitch up in the dunes! Alpaca walks can be booked for a minimum of two people to walk with one of their eight beautiful boys. There’s also the option here to add on afternoon tea to the experience.
Bobcat Alpacas’ experiences are hugely popular, so it’s best to book well in advance. You can choose from their farm experience, where you can spend time with the alpacas without taking them trekking, or a 90-minute alpaca walk in the Pentland Regional Park. If you’re local, or organising a local event, you could even have Bobcat Alpacas as your special ‘celebrity’ guests. They can be booked for private parties, community events, or even as ring-bearers at your wedding!
Steve and Sally Baker started Stoke Wood Alpacas in 2013. They breed and keep alpacas, and also sell to caring homes, offering advice and guidance on animal welfare and upkeep. They have their own yarn and sell a limited selection of alpaca-based items. Their two-hour alpaca experience includes a talk, visit to see the babies, walk around the paddocks and tea and cakes to finish.
Pembrokeshire Alpaca Trekking offers the opportunity for you to meet the alpacas, walk approximately one mile with them with a halter, feed them in their natural habitat and interact with them, all whilst enjoying the amazing views from their 60-acre farm in the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Their glamping site also offers luxury camping accommodation for up to 47 guests, with five family sized bell tents, two Luna bell tents and three Geodomes with hot tubs. Alpaca experiences can be booked from February to October.