IT SEEMS like you can just about do anything with alpacas these days - including yoga.

You can do alpaca trekking, walking, and even hire alpacas for weddings and children’s parties as well.

But according to Jacinta Nastali, business development manager at H&H Insurance Brokers, anyone can now practice their perfect downward dog in a field of soft, fluffy alpacas.

“Being around alpacas and their calming presence reduces stress,” said Jacinta. “There is undoubtedly something quite special about alpacas. They have a mystical quality, and it’s easy to see why some owners have chosen to use them in their yoga enterprise.”

But while breeding and showing alpacas has been around for many years in Cumbria, farming alpaca for their cashmere-like fleeces is still in its infancy in the UK and, according to breeders, until numbers can be substantially increased, the growing demand for breeding stock, and the high prices they command, some tens of thousands of pounds, will continue.

Wandering into the pens at Borderway Mart in Carlisle we are greeted by hundreds of pairs of enquiring alpaca eyes gazing from long-necks atop a sea of multi-coloured fleeces.

With their floppy, furry tufts, slender necks, ingenue eyes and coy Clara Bow grins, alpacas are just about the cutest of all the Camelidae family. One type has silky long dreadlocks, the other has woolly dense, crimped fleece just like a teddy bear.

And Carlisle hosted both types, along with their proud breeders, at a major one-day competition, leaving judge Liz Barlow, from Buckinghamshire, the difficult task of deciding which of the adorable, docile and soft-furred creatures went home with the silverware. She had the task of considering everything from the lustre of the alpacas’ locks to how well-mannered they were.

Paul and Barbara Hetherington run Beck Brow Alpacas at Ainstable and have organised the NWAG championships for the last six years. Barbara says this year the show, one of the largest one-day events in the country, was extremely competitive, with 155 alpacas taking part.