What’s South Yorkshire got in common with South America? Well, there’s the widespread obsession with football, the historical associations with socialism and, of course, the rolling hills lined with alpacas. Okay, make that "rolling hill".
The site in question is home to Mayfield Alpacas, just outside Ringinglow on the edge of the Peak District. Farm owner Elaine Sharp’s interest in these unusual animals began in 1998 as a way of refocusing her attention as she fought off breast cancer. Elaine and her husband Nigel’s first two alpacas soon became five, and once baby alpacas started to arrive, a move to a bigger site was required. Mayfield Alpacas opened to the public in 2001.
As well as enjoying spectacular views over the Porter Brook Valley, visitors to Mayfield Alpacas can meet, stroke and feed dozens of these friendly animals. They’re indigenous to Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and parts of Chile and Argentina, but seem perfectly at home on the outskirts of Sheffield and are always eager to meet locals who’ve forked out 50p for a bag of feed. Do watch out for George though, the first alpaca the Sharps bought: known as "The Boss", he doesn’t always take too kindly to strangers and has a nasty spitting habit.
Now as if hanging out with a load of lovely and (let’s face it) pretty funny-looking alpacas wasn’t enough of an awesome way to spend an afternoon, Mayfield Alpacas has grown and diversified a fair bit over the years. There are llamas – close cousins of the alpacas, of course – fluffy sheep, cheery Shetland ponies, a wobbly-yet-distinguished looking turkey, curious wallabies and a pair of micro-pigs called Malcolm and Alan. In all seriousness, the cuteness overload might actually kill you.
Back in the visitor centre, there’s also exotic birds, chinchillas and meerkats to introduce yourself to before a cup of coffee and a slice of cake in the cafe. And should you fall head-over-heels in love with one of the animals residing at Mayfield Alpacas, you can always make a long-term commitment to your new best friend by adopting one of the alpacas, meerkats, goats, llamas or pigs through the farm’s website. Or maybe you’ll take advantage of the Sharps’ breeding consultancy service and start a funny-looking new family of your own.
If you want to pass on the alpaca love, you'll find one in our 35 Postcards of Sheffield pack.
- Words by
- Robert Cooke
- Images by
- Nigel Barker