Walking the dog is SO last year darling … these days everyone in the know is all down with the alpacas!
Not a sentence you ever thought you’d read? Not one we ever thought we’d write either, but we’ve checked out Alpaca Annie, the UK’s number one alpaca experience, right here on the Romney Marsh.
ALL ABOUT ALPACAS
In their native land of the Peruvian Andes, alpacas graze at altitudes of 10,000-14,000 feet on the high plains. The harsh conditions mean they produce thick, sumptuous coats which results in fine, lustrous wool in over 40 shades from ivory to black with every shade of grey and brown in between.
Back here in Kent, Annie bought her very first alpaca, Pavlova, in 2009. Although it started as a hobby, the herd has grown and grown, and now Alpaca Annie uses their fleeces to produce a range of beautiful products – and runs Alpaca Treks!
From Burmarsh, in the heart of the beautifully serene Romney Marsh, you can amble with your alpaca to your heart’s content. These friendly, gentle and curious animals are happily halter trained, and they love the trekking just as much as their human visitors – and especially enjoy the carrots at the end!
The experience includes an introductory and informative talk, hand feeding, the obligatory selfies plus alpaca, and of course the trek itself.
Just like ‘slebs’, alpacas are always up for a ‘meet ‘n greet’ so for those who would prefer not to trek, are perhaps too young or unable to walk long distances, there’s still the opportunity to get up close and personal with a new friend.
Annie’s alpacas are sheared in the spring before it gets too hot – remember their origins in the Peruvian mountains? Shearing keeps them cool and comfortable, and alpaca fibre naturally lends itself to luxurious clothing and homewares.
Alpaca fibre is as luxurious as cashmere, and more insulating and stronger than sheep’s wool. Plus, it’s so resistant to saturation that it’s nearly water-repellent. Free of the lanolin that is present in sheep’s wool, it’s also hypoallergenic.
When you’ve felt the soft caress of alpaca wool products against your skin, it’s hard to resist – choose from the most sensuous socks and slippers, cuddly capes or touchable throws and much more. If you’d like to get creative, Essential Alpaca Yarn is a supersoft DK yarn in both natural colours and dyed (natural dyes of course). The knit kits are perfect for beginners, and alpaca wool adds an extravagant feel to your works of art.
FENNEL, THE ALPACA WITH A CAFÉ NAMED AFTER HIM
Fennel is one of Annie’s tallest alpacas, standing head and shoulders above the rest of the herd – hence he lends his name to the onsite café which serves homemade sweet and savoury foods and a range of hot and cold drinks. You can eat in or use the nearby benches and picnic area. Watch out for acquisitive alpacas!