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Cute, fluffy and taking over the forest, now you can experience taking an alpaca on a walk

PUBLISHED: 17:16 01 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:41 04 February 2019

Sophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Sophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Horse riding, dog walking and hiking have all been a traditional pastime of those who visit the forests of our region.

But now a new animal is in town and battling to take over. And it is as cute as it is fluffy.

Let’s Go Alpacas in Wretham offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with alpacas.

Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAlpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Sophie Gordon, 28, who runs the guided walks and owns and looks after her herd of 12 alpacas, started the walks in late 2017.

Miss Gordon, who is a sonographer at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury by day, offers walks with her alpacas for £25 per person with each participant getting to pick their own alpaca and the chance to take their own alpaca selfie along the way.

Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAlpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

She said: “People arrive, see the alpacas, and then come over to our shed which becomes our lecture theatre and we do a talk through with them and that covers our top five most asked questions.

“Then we go off into the forest for about 30 or 40 minutes or longer, normally longer because the alpacas are quite slow.

Selfie time at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodSelfie time at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

“They know the route as well so we start off exceptionally slow and then when we get about half way around they know they’re going home and start speeding up.

“They are not as quick as a dog or a horse, they can be very stubborn. If they don’t want to walk, they will not.”

Reporter Conor Matchett got the chance to take a selfie with Teddy the alpaca. Picture: Conor MatchettReporter Conor Matchett got the chance to take a selfie with Teddy the alpaca. Picture: Conor Matchett

The alpacas owned by Miss Gordon are also show animals and regularly appear at agricultural shows. The herd is also bred for their fleece which is dense and incredibly soft.

Falling in love with the animals when she saw them at the Suffolk Show, Miss Gordon had initially been based in Sible Hedingham before moving her herd to Wretham.

Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAlpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Miss Gordon added: “I saw them at the Suffolk Show, fell in love with them, had never really seen them, heard of them, knew what they were, asked lots of questions and didn’t think any more other than that ‘cool, they’re really amazing.

“My mum was a great influence in my life and unfortunately she passed away when I was 21 and she always had horses and dogs and rabbits and chickens so I had always been around animals and I think that is where the love of animals came from.”

Sophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodSophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Let’s Go Alpacas is part of Hedingham Alpacas, with a walk experience (one adult and one child) lasting around two hours and costing £25 per alpaca.

More information can be found on their website: https://www.hedinghamalpacas.co.uk/lets-go-alpacas/

Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAlpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Top five alpaca questions

As part of the walk experience walkers find out the answers to the top five most asked questions about alpacas.

Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAlpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

1. What’s the difference between an alpaca and a llama?

They are both camelids, a family which includes camels, they can crossbreed, but the main difference is that llamas are a lot bigger and the fleece. Alpacas are predominately bred for their fleece whereas llama fleece is not as soft.

Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAlpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

2. Can you ride them?

No, they are too small and not built for carrying weight.

Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAlpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

3. How old do they live to?

On average around 20 years especially with the medicines and veterinary knowledge getting better in this country.

Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAlpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

4. Can you eat them?

Yes, you can, and in South America they do and it is quite lean meat.

Sophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodSophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

5. Do they spit?

Yes they do, however it tends to be for a reason. Generally they spit between each other and it is often over food or fighting or when they are hormonal.

Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAlpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAlpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Sophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodSophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Sophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodSophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAlpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

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