Places To Visit

Velvet Hall Alpaca Farm, near Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

So, a few Saturdays ago, my pals and I ventured down into deepest, loveliest Borders country for quite the novelty experience. Alpaca trekking! My friend, Suze had been doing a bit of research and came across Velvet Hall Alpaca Farm just outside Innerleithen. None of us had any real knowledge of these animals, but we were all united in our adoration of them. It turns out that alpacas are as gentle and curious as they look and it didn’t take us all too long to get acquainted with our individual, floofy charges. My fella was called Roman. That’s him on the right next to his pal, Thistle. What a pair of cuties, eh?

After we had done a bit of a meet ‘n’ greet and had our alpacas bridled, we set off uphill through a pretty, wooded area which led to a dedicated path, which gradually ascends up above the farm. Roman and Thistle were as thick as thieves and being pack animals, always needed to be within each others sight or else you’d soon hear all about it as they would start to make a strange humming and hawing sound! We made it to the top however, which led to a spacious, open field for our furry chums to graze from and for us to take in the stunning panorama of the Borders hills and Tweed Valley.

Our guides, Jean and Stuart are the friendliest, sweetest people who are clearly passionate about what they do and are walking alpaca encyclopaedias. They bought their first four alpacas in 2011 and haven’t stopped ever since. Jean even gave up her job working in the NHS to run their Alpaca business which is now going from strength to strength and they’re even branching out into ‘therapet’ services. Small wonder really as being around these gentle animals was very soothing indeed and once you got to know their individual petting likes, it’s even more relaxing stroking them. Jean informed me that Roman loved nothing more than a long, smooth stroke along the underside of his neck and once I’d mastered it, we started to really got along famously!

Upon returning to the farm, we got to feed our alpacas carrot treats which was such a fun thing to do as they have long, prominent, lower teeth which tickle your hands as they feed. It also means that they don’t bite – as if they couldn’t get any cuter or more perfect. Jean and Stuart also had paddling pools for our wooly chums to cool down in as it was quite a warm day and introduced us to the female herd whilst letting us feed them too. This is Suilven – doesn’t she have the most beeeeooootiful lashes ever?

All in all, Velvet Hall Alpaca Farm is a not-to-be-missed experience. We were there for 2 hours and definitely got our money’s worth, and were left enthused by our guides’ devotion to these animals, not to mention the calming effect that their furry charges left on us. So, book yourself some touch therapy and get on down to Velvet Farm.

How to get there:

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Velvet+Hall+Alpacas/@55.6260158,-3.0893827,505m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x48878d7c1c2968e5:0x78e65a9bebfc26f0!8m2!3d55.6260158!4d-3.087194

Top 6 Alpaca Facts

  • They make weird sounds. Alpacas emit a humming sound which can variously mean that they are content, curious, worried or cautious. If they feel threatened or in danger, one of the herd will start braying and will then be followed by the rest who will bray in the direction of the potential threat. (Roman was startled by a deer in the woods at one point and did this!)
  • Their fleece is hypoallergenic and warmer, and less itchy than sheep’s wool.
  • Alpaca fibre comes in hundreds of shades, from white to light, rose-grey to dark fawn.
  • Alpacas come in two types: suri and the huacaya. The suri has fibre that grows long and forms silky dreadlocks. The huacaya has a wooly, dense, crimped fleece, like a teddy bear, giving it a wooly appearance. Velvet Hall have both breeds on their farm.
  • Alpaca fibre is both flame and water-resistant! Superfloofs!
  • They smell of popcorn! This is ‘cos of the barley in their diets which makes them secrete a chemical called Di-Methyl Sulphide which smells like corn.