We’re gonna need a bigger shed..

Our Woolly Army is growing so we’re gonna need a bigger shed..  We’re asking for your help.. we want to build an awesome eco-friendly bunk barn so visitors can come and stay with our alpacas and llamas!

Let us tell you our story ‘Once upon a time in The Land Of The Lakes…’

It was once upon a time in the land of the lakes when Emma (writer of children’s books and maker of beautifully whimsical things) found herself accidentally nodding her head when Terry (former soldier in the British Army, entrepreneur, ne’er do well, and thinker of Big Ideas)  informed her that the only sensible thing to do in their spare time, was to start looking after a herd of alpacas.

The reasons he gave were as follows:

  • Alpacas were funny-looking and would therefore, logically, be fun to look after.
  • Having done some “solid research” he had it on great authority that alpacas were the easiest of animals to care for, in fact he would go so far as to say that “they would look after themselves.” (let’s fast forward briefly to days spent covered in mud, drenched by rain and battered by howling winds, attempting to memorise the dosage on a catering sized bottle of de-wormer.)
  • They had moved to The Lake District! What better way to become part of the local farming community than to breed Peruvian livestock! (fast forward to years of quizzical/disbelieving looks, conversations that begin with “so what’s that then eh? Does it bite eh?” and then of course, the downright mockery.)

Based on three whole points of such profound logic, and bearing in mind their complete lack of experience, knowledge, land, or indeed alpacas, there was only one inevitable outcome. In a move that made no sense to anyone apart from them, they gave each other a wink and went off and did it anyway.

They started with a name. Because that was clearly the important bit…

Alpacaly Ever After… was born.

Three years later we now have a herd of over one hundred delightfully funny-looking rehomed and rescued alpacas and llamas that is growing all the time and a hugely successful Social Enterprise, and our next step is an eco bunk barn so that you guys, and all the schools, charities and groups we work with can come and take time out with The Woolly Army!

Our Social Enterprise mission is…

  • To provide the alpacas and llamas in our care with the best possible lives and the utmost care.
  • To offer a welcoming new home for life, for unwanted alpacas and llamas from all over the UK.
  • To provide people with hugely enjoyable and unique alpaca experiences that are accessible to all.
  • To immerse our visitors in the beauty of the Lake District World Heritage Site.
  • To share our knowledge about a fascinating species.
  • To design and make delightful, ethical and sustainable products that promote alpacas and their yarn.

We have set up our independent social enterprise, to make best use of our skills, and do something positive and innovative with the land where we live, bringing visitors in touch with the landscape and natural world in an enjoyable, engaging and therapeutic way. We aim to make the experiences accessible to all, adapting our approach as necessary, providing everyone with an inspiring and memorable experience!

With six awesome full time guides on our team now, their champion efforts and skills have meant that over the last three years we have welcomed visitors from all over the world, and are also provided experiences for many third sector organisations including Cumbria County Councils Foster Care Services, Eden Valley Hospice, Friends of Chernobyl’s Children, Cumbria Headway, AWAZ Cumbria, Always Another Way Cumbria Ltd, the One In A Million Foundation, Launchpad Veteran Support, Amy’s Care and The Calvert Trust.

We have found the most beautiful homes for the Alpacaly Ever After herd and are lucky enough to work with some of the most amazing businesses in The Lake District, including the Lingholm Estate along the beautiful shores of Derwent Water (there really is nothing quite so delightful as watching an alpaca take a bath in a lake, it should be recommend as a cure for all cases of melancholy and world weariness :) The Lakes Distillery near Bassenthwaite Lake where guests are welcomed on the field for a half hour mini session of alpaca shenanigans, and our newest adventure trekking llamas through the stunning Newlands Valley between the summits of Catbells and Maiden moor! If that wasn’t enough to be getting on with, we are also delighted to be working with the Forestry Commission England to offer alpaca walks through Whinlatter Forest Park, and are planning to start three day llama camping treks over the Lakeland fells in partnership with The Lake District Foundation…we couldn’t be more excited!

We are super proud to be the Number One activity according to Trip Advisor in the whole of Cumbria and the North West! And we have also been featured in some pretty awesome videos…

And where will the story go next?  Well this is where you come in! 

We know from all our lovely visitors (see below) that time spent with alpacas and llamas is amazingly good for humans! They make us calmer, happier and more well balanced, and they also get us outside into the fresh air and open to all the therapeutic benefits of exercising and being surrounded by nature (who even notices they are exercising when they have a delightfully funny-looking fluffy fella walking alongside them?!) but don’t take our word for it, check out our Trip Advisor Fan Club!

Jenny said We did the alpaca walk at Lingholm with Natasha as our guide in a group of 5. We had the best time!!! The alpacas were so gentle natured and we loved all the names and their different personalities! I am a bit nervous of animals but felt at ease with the alpacas and really enjoyed it. We particularly liked them having a paddle in the lake. We will definitely come back in the summer to see the babies! Thanks Natasha :)

Mark said “My daughter and I spent the most amazing afternoon in the company of the lovely Holly (our very knowledgeable and friendly guide) and Inca and Dudley (our gorgeous and gentle alpacas). This is one of the best experiences we have ever had in the Lake District. We went on a private walk around the Estate. The scenery was stunning, the alpacas were very amusing and incredibly easy to walk and Holly gave us lots of very interesting information about both alpacas and the estate. We really can’t recommend it enough. Thank you so much Holly, Inca and Dudley!”

Liz said Genuinely one of the nicest hours I’ve ever spent. A small group walk through the beautiful Lingholm estate, taking in the shore of Derwent water, with a humming alpaca on a lead. Excellent value and the money funds alpaca care and rescue. Breakfast after in the cafe – a perfect morning. 100% recommend.

If you’ve been on one of our walks, we’re asking if you would do a video testimonial for us, to share the love with others and help to get us more votes..

So! In order to extend these amazing benefits and to open them up to more people we want to build an eco-friendly bunk barn! We want you to be able to take a sustainable and delightful break from your everyday lives and come and live among the alpacas and llamas in our beautiful part of the world :)

As always we want to be accessible to all and will be expanding our work with schools and youth groups by offering residential visits to children from urban areas to come stay, learn, work and play with our awesome herd and take a time out in The Lakes and on the fells.

On site we are planning a wonderful range of animals for you to interact with during your stay including our alpacas & llamas and their babies in the summer, alongside goats, chickens, ducks and bees. If you fancy mucking in during your stay there is feeding time,  growing and picking delicious organic vegetables in our garden, collecting the freshest of eggs from our chickens for breakfast, and as much muck as you can shift! And after all that in summer there is the chance to swim in the river to cool off :)

But we are jumping ahead of ourselves! So lets say this is campaign is super successful and we get the funds to proceed…this is the plan!

Eco build, sustainable and utterly delightful bunkhouse for visitors, families, schools and groups to use…with an alpaca shelter below!

so let have a closer look at the build…

The alpaca shelter will need to meet the needs of our The Woolly Army who love light, airy living space, and our environment – something that is eco frendly, self powered and unique. We have looked at all the options available and we have decided on redesigning the old fashioned field shelter and bring it into the 21st century using old techniques. The barn itself will be built from Cob and sustainably-sourced timber that is run using a variety of renewable technologies: biomass, photovoltaics.

The roof will be covered in grass and flowers to help the bees along and at the same time providing a natural installation for the shelter keeping the heat in during the winter and the cool in during the summer.

Rainwater collection and harvesting systems will provide fresh drinking water for the alpacas 24 hours a day and to clean out and flush the barn where the waste will be drained away and processed by reed bed.

The use of clear solar panels as windows will power the lights and heating system for the alpacas 365 days a year!

Inside they will have medical room, hayloft, storage, and bays for them to get a warm nights sleep and to keep the babies safe. There will also be space for visitors to learn and interact with them :)

The Bunk House!! This will be above the shelter and be just about the cosiest place anyone ever put their head down in the history of all time ever. Sustainable timber bunk beds, organic eco mattresses and bed linens…here’s a few interior examples that we’ve been referencing in our plans :)

And what amazing rewards do we have in return for your support guys?! This is the best bit!!

Firstly we have-

‘Spit Happens’ Hard Enamel Pin for a £10 donation

‘Be the First’ The BIG Raffle Get to stay a week for a £15 donation

‘Pick a Walk’ choose from an Alpaca Walk at Lingholm or Whinlatter or a Llama Trek for a £65 – £120 donation

I don’t want to wait I want to book now!

If you just can’t wait and you’re impatient like me you can book on one of out treks  right here right now!

So, not bad for a start, but Terry has grander plans ahead, in fact, he may just not stop until world domination is in his sights! All the alpaca shenanigans on our social media have lead to lots of wonderful opportunities and the Woolly Army have been featured on Salvage Hunters, ITV and BBC news, the Telegraph and i newspapers, Diply, Love Travel and in February last year we were delighted to take the Unilad team up to the top of Catbells in what we believe was the first ever alpaca walk up a Lakeland fell and the resulting awesome video received over five million views (which we thought was a lot until a recent video we made featuring alpacas and rainbows broke the internet with over 35 million views and counting!) We have recently teamed up with Unilad again along with Virgin Trains to make a video promoting rail travel to The Lake District.


See you next time… over and out!

Wordsmith: Emma Smalley

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