Meet the Alpacas
If you’re looking for a family day out with a difference, then alpaca trekking could be for you. Bred primarily for their fleece which is crafted into everything from blankets and ponchos to gloves and socks, alpacas are quite common in Britain now and many farms offer the chance to get up close and personal with one on a countryside walk. Although you will be booking a ‘trek’, don’t expect the alpaca to carry anything heavier than your rucksack. They’re dainty little creatures under all that fluff. Alpacas come from South America, but if your budget doesn’t stretch to an exotic getaway fear not, you can enjoy an alpaca adventure much closer to home.
Abbotts View Alpacas, Buckinghamshire. This small, family run eco farm in Aston Abbotts is a perfect destination for animal-mad children. Alpaca walks last 45 minutes, but do allow a good two hours on the farm to take in the rare breed sheep, pygmy goats, rescue ponies and pigs they live alongside. (www.abbottsviewalpacas.co.uk )
Yew Tree Alpacas, Hertfordshire. The 35-strong herd of alpaca here provide all the fleece for the socks and accessories in the gift shop. The owners are prepared for you to fall in love during your trek and offer an introductory course on keeping alpacas. Don’t be surprised if you book before you leave. (www.yewtreealpacas.co.uk )
Arkadia Alpacas, Northamptonshire. If you head to this farm in Woodford Halse, prepare to coo over the baby alpacas, or ‘cria’. Reindeer roaming around may leave you feeling unseasonably festive. (www.greatgroundfarm.co.uk )
Herrings Green Farm, Bedfordshire. Trek with your alpaca and then make a day of it sampling the array of country sports on offer, including archery, falconry and clay pigeon shooting. (www.birdsofpreycentre.co.uk )
Age restrictions apply and vary from farm to farm so do go online first. Pre-booking is essential. If you do consider owning an alpaca, ask on your trek as some farms offer them for sale. Expect to pay anything from several hundred to upwards of a thousand pounds depending on the pedigree, and make sure the breeder is registered with the British Alpaca Society and has microchipped the animals.