As lockdown starts to lift, you might be looking forward to doing something with your family to reconnect.

If you're looking for something a bit more unusual you could take a trek with an alpaca.

Natterjack Alpacas is hoping to resume its alpaca treks from April 17 and can't wait to welcome people back on the trail.

The Burscough-based attraction, which is around a 40 minute drive from Liverpool, has been open for around five years and is run by couple Clara Boulton and Shaun Lock.

Clara told the ECHO: "We originally started out breeding alpacas and about two years ago we starting doing our treks and we also offer an alpaca experience for people of all ages.

"We started out by doing the treks along a private farm track but we now keep alpacas on-site and we have a herd of 50 alpacas which are roughly half male and half female. Some we have bred for selling, others we use for our treks and experiences and others are rescues."

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Clara was also self-employed as a dog walker and sitter, while Shaun was a private music teacher.

They were unable to work their regular jobs so focused on their alpaca business, as they were able to offer treks in line with Covid rules.

The 25-year-old from Southport, said: "Before the pandemic, we had been just doing one trek on a Saturday morning but then we were forced to close. When lockdown lifted we started doing multiple treks but with smaller groups - sometimes it was just two or three people because of Covid guidelines.

"We are hoping to continue the work we started before the pandemic providing alpaca therapy for people with conditions including autism and Tourettes. Ultimately, our dream would be to dedicate at least half of our time or more to this animal-assisted intervention and activity. Having our beautiful alpacas is what has got us through these multiple lockdowns. No matter how bad things seem the alpacas help bring your stress levels down.

Natterjack Alpacas owner Clara Boulton with two of her 50-strong herd

"Alpaca therapy is a love of ours. We started this route by doing care home visits, which just brought us and others so much joy. Once word started getting around, we quickly got fully booked for visits. Not only were the visits great for the residents, but they were also brilliant for the staff and family members. It's been incredibly difficult not being able to visit the homes for coming up to a year.

"We use very specific alpacas who let us know that they enjoy that sort of activity. We never push it or 'train' them for therapy, it is something that comes naturally or doesn't. The alpacas dictate what we offer ultimately!

"The most surprising success has been with those with Tourette’s. Our first experience was with a lovely visitor who comes by every now and again whose verbal tics entirely stop whilst with one of her best friends, Prince, the alpaca.

Natterjack Alpacas are offering alpaca therapy

"This really shows just how much of a calming effect alpacas have on people. It is also a testament to the alpacas' nature. They are so emotionally intelligent, in our opinion and actually gravitate towards those who benefit from their presence the most."

"And of course they are fluffy and cute, some of my favourites are the older girls."

Natterjack Alpacas offer an alpaca trek for a group of up to six people over the age of 16 for £25 per person. The trek is a 90-minute walk on the private farm track with plenty of photo opportunities. Each person is paired with their own alpaca which they get to walk and bond with.

The alpacas taking a dip in the pond in their paddock

They also offer a bespoke alpaca experience for people of all ages, which consists of a meet and greet with the herd of alpacas, a talk about why alpacas are special, getting to touch their fleece and learn all about them. They can have photos and hugs with the animals plus do a little obstacle course with them and get to hand feed them.

The experience costs £15 per adult and £10 for children under 16. You can book treks and experiences at natterjackalpacas.co.uk.

Natterjack Alpacas are also hoping to take part in the British Alpaca Society's National Alpaca Farm Day on the first weekend of September, which gives free entry for people to visit alpacas near them.

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Clara added: "People need a break from reality and a visit to an alpaca farm would probably be a welcome date in the diary. We will be signing up once we definitely have the logistics sorted, but our friends in the area and further afield are already signed up.

"We have watched a lot of our friends suffer during this time, and whilst we are all ultimately competitors, we are all animal lovers with a common interest - these amazing animals."