Alpaca Trekking in Swaledale, North YorkshireChoose an activity
Alpacas are domesticated versions of vicuñas, South American ruminants that live high in the Andes and in the picturesque village of Low Row in the Yorkshire Dales! Alpacas are related to the llama, which is a domesticated version of another wild Andean ruminant, the guanaco. While llamas are used as pack animals, alpacas are raised mainly for their soft wool. There are no wild llamas or alpacas. They graze in herds at heights of between 3,500 m (11,500 ft) to 5,000 m (16,000 ft) in the Andes.
We have three registered boys whose job it is to produce top quality fibre and protect our sheep and lambs from predators. They are:
- Larch (a real character)
- Aramis (dominant male)
- Apollo (a bit on the shy side)
(We don’t have any girls because breeding females are pregnant for 11 ½ months and suckle their young for up to 6 months so not much good for going out on walks with them!)
Our alpaca walks
On first arrival, you get to meet the alpacas and say hello. We will then take them for a gentle stroll through the pastures of Low Row in Swaledale and then back to their home where you will have an opportunity to feed them and take a selfie with them, they are very socialable animals.
Want to know more…
Alpacas are part of the species, ‘Camelid’ which include:-
- Llamas and Guanaco (Genus Lama)
- Vicuna and Alpaca (Genus Vicuña)
- Dromedary and Bactrian Camel (Genus Cemelus)
According to National Geographic, alpaca fibre is the second strongest animal fibre, after mohair (produced from Angora goats). It was highly prized in early civilizations.
Not much is known or written about alpaca fibre since the fall of the Incan empire until Sir Titus Salt, an English textile manufacturer and inventor, discovered its exceptional qualities. He found it was stronger, lighter and felt softer than sheep’s wool. There were more colours than sheep’s wool and there was no grease (lanolin). Sir Titus invented machinery for processing alpaca, and created some wonderful cloth at his mills on the banks of the River Aire in West Yorkshire. Unfortunately other mills refused to make the changes required to handle the new fibre and Sir Titus couldn’t generate enough interest to keep alpaca clothing popular. The mills at Saltaire (now a world heritage site) have bronze statues of two alpacas.
Our alpacas get an annual haircut and we send it to UK Alpaca (ukalpaca.com) where they use it to make amazingly soft and warm clothing.
Alpacas make humming sounds when they communicate with other, we think it’s to reassure herd members, it’s like a “mmm” sound and you may hear it while you’re out with them. They also shriek when danger is present, and make a sound similar to a “wark” noise when they’re excited and fighting males scream, making a warbling bird-like cry.
Alpaca lunch and munch
In the summer, they graze in the fields around Low Row and in winter, we feed them hay and mineral feed.
Spitting Alpacas? / Cross Alpacas?
Our boys don’t have the best mealtime manners, they’ll sometimes spit at each other when they are competing for food so you don’t get caught in the crossfire! They’ll also spit when they’re trying to establish dominance or if they’re distressed or feel threatened.
They have a barn to shelter in from the elements all year round but use it mostly to hide from midges on summer evenings.
Alpaca Trekking Locations
Just some of the places where we can offer this activity
Swaldedale, Richmond, Darlington, Bedale