Where to begin explaining this one… because, yes, we did travel on a day trip from London to a farm in Eastleigh, Winchester to go alpaca walking. What is an alpaca walk? It’s a walk where you take an alpaca on a leash for a stroll around his farm. Hensting Alpacas is an easy day trip from London and there you can meet these fluffy fellows, learn more about alpacas and take one or two for a walk.
Turns out alpaca walking and llama walking are becoming a trend in the UK. Who knew? I didn’t until a very jet-lagged day in Milwaukee this past May, when a family friend told us of their plans to go on a llama walk in the Cotswolds followed by afternoon tea during their trip to the UK in June. Maybe it was the jet-lag, maybe it was the glass of wine I’d had, maybe it was the perfection of this idea, but I began to laugh/cry, overcome by this idea. You see, llamas are similar to alpacas and my sister LOVES alpacas. She had booked a trip to visit in August and to bring her the joy of an alpaca walking experience was too much for me at that jet-lagged moment. I immediately began Googling whether there were alpaca walks and indeed, there are several places around the UK that offer them.
Further research had me afraid that an alpaca walking side trip would be impossible to fit into my sister’s three day trip. The Cadillac of UK alpaca walking tours appears to be in the Lake District, which is very far away. I found another farm that was completely booked up for the summer. As luck would have it, I then found Hensting Alpacas. With five stars on TripAdvisor and just a 16 minute cab ride from historic Winchester, it was the perfect spot to go walking with alpacas.
Winchester Alpaca Adventure
Alpaca Walking at Hensting Alpacas
We had great weather on the morning of our alpaca walk. The sun was shining as we entered the gates to Hensting Alpacas. We could see the alpacas penned in the distance as we gathered near their office awaiting our experience to start.
It began with a chat from the owner of the farm, Derek, who told us all about alpacas and Hensting. It was really quite interesting and made more so by Little Don, a baby alpaca who follows Derek around. Little Don’s mom is unable to nurse him, so Derek took over the feedings and now Little Don thinks Derek is his mom. He was so cute!
After we learned about the farm, breeding alpacas, what a breeder looks for in an alpaca coat, and more, it was time to meet the alpacas! We met the babies first, who were so cute! Then we met the ladies. The ladies and gents are in different pens to prevent unintended breeding. Most of the lady alpacas were pregnant. Alpacas carry their babies for 12 months before reaching full term. Crazy!
Then it was time to meet the boys, who’d we be walking that day. We lined up and the alpacas were led out of the pen with their leashes, ready to go.
We were to hold the leash in our left hands, then closer to their faces with our right, walking with our new alpaca friends on our right side in a line. It was important for the alpacas to be able to see each other as they walked, so they wouldn’t get too nervous.
Once we each got an alpaca and got in line, we set off around the farm with our alpaca buddies. We stopped at points to feed them, too. My alpaca, Pasco, really liked the eating parts. He was a little bit slow so I had to sort of pull him along to keep up with the other alpacas. Pasco and I got along great – he was very chill and I, being afraid of animals, really appreciated that.
We posed for a group photograph, before switching up our alpacas to meet a new one to walk around. The staff weren’t very happy that I wouldn’t give up Pasco, but we had a good thing going and I would have been to scared to wrangle one of the more jumpy young alpacas. So we continued on together, Pasco and me.
We stopped at the river to let them have a drink. In warmer weather they’ll go for a dip!
We led them back around to their usual fields where we let them off and they all milled about. Alpaca pandemonium! My sister was in heaven.
At the end, everyone who wanted got to take a turn feeding Little Don. It was a great end to an alpaca-filled morning!
After our adventure, we took a cab back to Winchester to explore around. There are several neat tourist sites to check out in the city, including a medieval round table that inspired by the Knights of the Roundtable.
We were pretty beat after a whirlwind first day of touring the day before and an early wakeup for our walk. We wandered a bit trying to find Winchester castle, but ran out of time. Luckily, on that wander we happened upon this lovely scene.
We explored the high street on our way to tea, which had a lovely market going on. It was bustling on a Saturday afternoon!
We didn’t get to everything, unfortunately, but we did check out the cathedral and had a spot of afternoon tea!
Winchester Cathedral is my favorite that I’ve visited so far. I loved touring Salisbury Cathedral and was so excited to visit Canterbury Cathedral, but there was just something about this one. There first came to be a religious building on this site in 635 and even has Norman roots. The current design of the cathedral was finished in the 16th century.
Jane Austen is buried here, which is so cool! I had no idea. I love her novels and even took a course in college dedicated to just her work. It was really neat to see her burial place, which has become much more of a monument after her passing. At the time of her death, it was not proper for her grave to reference her work.
The Winchester Bible was on display in the cathedral as well. Written in the 12th century, this absolutely beautiful bible is incredibly well-preserved and well worth a look. Unfortunately, no pictures are allowed to help protect this fragile and incredibly beautiful book.
Afternoon Tea at the Winchester Royal Hotel
We finished our Winchester Alpaca adventure with an afternoon tea at the Winchester Royal Hotel. The tea was very relaxed and we were the only ones in the tea room the entire time.
They were able to cater to my gluten-free afternoon tea needs and my sister absolutely loved the chocolate and marshmallow pudding included among the treats. They also played ABBA the whole time we were there, which was the most memorable part of the tea.
Some tea, sandwiches, scones and sweets were the perfect ending to our day of adventure in Winchester!
Getting to Hensting Alpacas from London
In an ideal world, we would have driven from London to Hensting Alpacas. The drive would taken about an hour and a half. With the two of us unable to drive here and unwilling to make our weekend visitors take on the stress of driving on the other side of the road, I finagled our way there on Tube, train and taxi. In all, the voyage went very smoothly!
We took an early morning train from Waterloo to Winchester. There we grabbed a delicious cup of coffee at Josie’s to kill a little time. The taxi I booked on Wintax picked us up right on time from the train station (and texted me to let me know) and we were on our way to the farm.
We arrived slightly early, but weren’t the first eager alpaca walkers. From Waterloo to the farm, it took us just under two hours, coffee stop included! We were able to schedule a pick-up with Wintax as they dropped us off. They were right on time once again, and made it back to the slightly difficult to describe location on their own without our guidance after the walk was finished.