Senwick Alpaca Trekking

Senwick Alpaca Trekking

Name of organisation/business: 
Senwick Alpaca Trekking
Dumfries and Galloway LEADER: £5,000
Contact details: 
Nicola Sanderson



What are the aims of your project?

We were looking to add a diversification to our traditional farming enterprise in order to make the business more dynamic in what are uncertain times for livestock farming.  We were keen to develop into the agri-tourism sector, which draws on the vibrant tourism market in the area.  Having acquired our first Alpacas as flock guards we came across the idea of alpaca trekking and so an idea was born!  The aim was to set up the basic infrastructure on the ground to establish a trekking centre, to create a pleasurable and unique experience for visitors and to develop a strong digital presence and marketing tools to promote the new enterprise.

How did your project achieve these aims?

We were able to build a purpose built shelter for the alpacas, and various trekking equipment for the alpacas.  In addition we provided shelter for trekkers along the route along (the trekkers tipi) along with equipment to provide some home comforts along the way such as picnic rugs, picnic ware and so on. Almost 50% of the funding was dedicated to the digital promotion of the project, such as the creation of a logo and a high quality website along with more traditional leaflets etc. 

Who’s involved?

The project was run by myself, Nicola Sanderson, with help from my farmer husband Paul.  We were keen to use local expertise and local businesses throughout the project and the majority of services provided and goods purchased were sourced from within our region of Dumfries and Galloway.

How was the project funded?

We received 50% of the costs from Dumfries and Gallloway LEADER whilst the remaining 50% was provided by ourselves.

Where did you go for help and advice?

We were supported by Nicola Hill and Ellen Grant from our local LEADER office.  We also sought help and advise from Dumfries and Galloway council’s business accelerator scheme from where we gained valuable marketing advise through a series of seminars and one to one sessions from a marketing consultant.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

Being able to provide our customers of all ages and walks of life with a pleasurable and special experience is an achievement that we enjoy each and every time we trek.  Watching people having fun, smiling and relaxing with their alpaca whilst marvelling at our beautiful countryside is just magical every time.  Alpaca trekking allows people to escape into a different world for a few hours and enjoy animals and countryside that they would not normally encounter.

And the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge has certainly been the paperwork! Fortunately our LEADER team are very experienced and patient.

Any tips for those setting up a similar project?

Do your research before hand; particularly make yourself familiar with your local action plan before writing any proposal so that you know that your project fits in with the aims of your Local Action Group.  Be adventurous and don’t be afraid to be different, from my experience LEADER is looking to support interesting and diverse projects.  During the project keep paperwork and records up to date, it saves a lot of time later!

What’s next for your project?

We have a few ideas in the pipeline! We are keen to add a shop on the site to promote our farm produce with our trekkers and other visitors, and to provide a space from which to sell refreshments.  In addition, trekkers often ask us if we provide accommodation (and if we don’t they tell us we should!) so that may well be a further avenue to explore as we move forward!