WHAT started off as a few alpacas as family pets has grown into a successful business in the heart of the Cheshire countryside – scooping a prestigious Tripadvisor award for the third time and attracting famous visitors.

Cheshire Alpacas - based in Keepers Lane, Antrobus - was founded in 2018, and attracts people from near and far for its five-star alpaca walks and experience days.

Run by Sophie Mair and her mum Julie Rumbelow, Cheshire Alpacas offer unique alpaca experiences including alpaca walking, birthday party visits, wedding visits (complete with alpacas wearing flowers and bow ties), ‘Al-Pilates’ and alpaca yarn for sale.

But the mother and daughter duo’s love for the cuddly animals goes back 13 years, when they got their first three alpacas as family pets.

Northwich Guardian: 'Al-Pilates''Al-Pilates'

Sophie said their passion continued to grow over the years.

“We started offering walks with them to friends and family,” she said.

“We had a tradition on Boxing Day that the whole family would come together to walk them.

“And we thought if they enjoy it, then other people might too.

“They are very calming animals, even if we had someone come who was a bit unsure, they wouldn’t be by the time they left.”

Northwich Guardian: One of the new arrivalsOne of the new arrivals

They now have around 58 alpacas (all with names and different personalities) but are expecting more imminently as some females are due to give birth.

The youngest member of the herd was born on July 16.

Animal welfare is the pair’s main priority, so they only offer one alpaca walk and one private experience per day, to allow the herd to graze in their field, sunbathe and relax.

They also have an in-house alpaca shearer (Jamie Meakin of Shear Alpacas) to keep the animals comfortable.

Northwich Guardian: Alpaca shearingAlpaca shearing

Julie said: “Way before we even thought about Cheshire Alpacas, they were always pets for us.

“We do one walk in the morning and then a private experience in the afternoon, so they don’t get bored of it.”

The group walking experiences run daily, all year round, including weekends, at 10am.

The private experience accommodates a maximum of four guests with two alpacas, allowing a small group to walk together.

Julie said her and her daughter could talk about alpacas ‘all day long’ and love sharing their stories and fun facts with visitors.

Northwich Guardian: A recent wedding visitA recent wedding visit

Cheshie Alpacas recently attracted former world boxing champion Amir Khan, who paid the team a visit with his family.

Northwich Guardian: Amir Khan paid a visitAmir Khan paid a visit

Julie added: “We’ve won the Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice award for the past three years.

“All our reviews are five-star, and we are very proud.”

A message to Cheshire Alpacas’ social media following reads: “We’d just like to say a massive thank you to each and every one of you guys who have supported us whether that’s been coming to visit us on the farm, having our alpacas attend one of your special events or even following us on social media.

“Your reviews mean so much to us.”

Northwich Guardian: A fluffy friend says hello to the cameraA fluffy friend says hello to the camera

For more information, visit cheshirealpacas.co.uk.