A NOVEL attraction in the Dumfriesshire countryside is proving a big hit with visitors and local people.
Nith Valley Alpacas, based at a tiny hamlet Keir Mill, near Penpont, offers the opportunity for groups or individuals to get out and about in stunning countryside leading the friendly native South American animals on treks.
Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell has highlighted the enterprise as an imaginative example of small businesses enhancing the rural economy.
He met with proprietor Debbie Maxwell during a fact-finding visit to the alpacas' base on Capenoch Estate at the edge of the village.
Mr Mundell said: "Small rural businesses and diversification are vital in the countryside and I'm impressed by the wide variety of concepts being developed.
"Debbie's friendly alpacas are led on supervised pre-booked treks by the visitors, who enjoy a memorable experience amidst the fresh air and beauty of the Nithsdale hills."
Debbie praised marketing carried out as part of VisitScotland's south west initiatives which had generated extra visitors.
She said: "VisitScotland's efforts have raised awareness of our alpacas, what we do and where we are and I'd like to thank them for that."