Summer guided walks

Our summer guided walks are going well, with people enjoying a walk through Knapdale forest and learing about the beavers and the habitat they create. We have been very lucky on recent walks with some great beaver sightings too!  Come along and join us on a Tuesday or Thursday evening. Call (01546) 603346 to book.Guided Walks Poster Summer 2015

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Footage revealed of second beaver kit at the Scottish Beaver Trial

Experts from the UK’s first licensed trial reintroduction of beavers – the Scottish Beaver Trial – have released footage of a second beaver kit at Lochan Buic in the Knapdale Forest of Argyll. Continue reading

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New beaver kit captured on film at Knapdale

Experts from the UK’s first licensed trial reintroduction of beavers – the Scottish Beaver Trial – have released footage of a new beaver kit at Lochan Buic in the Knapdale Forest of Argyll. Continue reading

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Nina and the Neurons

The Scottish Beaver Trial can now add ‘Nina and the Neurons’ to the list of television programmes that have come to Knapdale to film in the Trial area and see the effects the beavers have on the natural environment.

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Last week the BBC film crew, ‘Nina’ and three lucky children selected from a Primary School in Oban arrived at the Trial site to film an episode for CBeebies TV.  Obviously, filming during the day meant that there was no chance of seeing a beaver, but the crew filmed at the Dubh loch dam, and viewing point, and carried out an experiment to find out if it was easier to pull a log over the ground, or through the water.

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Nina and the kids also put their beaver skills to the test and built a dam in a stream to find out what happens to the water when the stream is dammed. (The dam was then carefully removed again to leave the area as it was found.)

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We’re not sure of the date the programme will be broadcast, it’s likely to be some time in the Autumn, but we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we do!


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Student volunteer Rhona reports on her work experience with the Beaver Trial

I had a fantastic time working with Oly from the Beaver trial. I am studying for my HNC in Countryside Management and I wanted to do my work experience with them to learn, understand get an insight of the development of the trial, and to see any development since it ended. Created with Nokia Smart Cam

I was fortunate to go and visit a local school and one in Oban with Oly, the Education Ranger giving lessons to classes.  it was great to see the children learning and getting understanding about the beavers and the area that they live in in Argyll.

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I was also very fortune to see signs of beavers living in the landscape.  There were trees that they have chopped down and used to build their lodges.  They are amazing creatures in how they construct their lodges!Created with Nokia Smart Cam

I have travelled and seen many parts of the world, but Argyll is spellbinding and holds a special place in my heart and always will do.  Be as enchanted as I was and come to visit this gorgeous place!

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Beavers are a boost to wildlife tourism in Argyll.

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Along with many other tourism business owners in the area who have benefitted from the Scottish Beaver Trial being located in the Knapdale Forest, I am keen to hear whether the Scottish Government will approve the continuation of the reintroduction of the Knapdale Beavers at the trial site.  I had heard that the scientific report had been submitted this year and that the project was awaiting the decision from the Environment Minister, so I was delighted to hear that the Minister (Dr Aileen McLeod) was going to visit the site before making her decision, and was keen to meet some representatives from local tourism businesses to hear how the project had affected tourism in the area.

I was very pleased to be invited, along with Calum Ross from Loch Melfort Hotel and Christine Dobson from the Cairnbaan Hotel to meet with the Minister when she visited last Thursday (21 May 2015) and be given the time with her to talk about the impact that the trial has had on our businesses.

The meeting was organised by SNH, who arranged a visit to Dubh Loch and Barnlusagan Loch to show the minister the sites where some of the beavers have settled and made a significant impact on the landscape.  Time was also scheduled for the minister to have a relaxed coffee break and to meet with ourselves in the Barnlusagan cabin.

As the beaver trial has had a significant impact on my business I was keen to tell her about the increased publicity that the area has received as a result of the trial: in 2011 BBC Springwatch visited the site and the Knapdale forest was very much put on the map during prime time TV viewing.  Charlie Hamilton James presented a nightly update on his experiences at the trial site, raising public interest in the project. We were also lucky to have the Springwatch team visit our B&B to film a pine marten that visits frequently and to discuss with us the value of wildlife tourism to a small business like ours.   We benefitted instantly from the publicity of the beaver trial and the coverage of our B&B and still have guests returning every year who found out about us through watching Springwatch.  Similarly in 2012, Ray Mears visited the beaver trial site (and our B&B) and footage of the Knapdale beavers and our pine marten was shown on ‘Wild Britain’ on ITV & STV . In the same year the ‘One Show’ team also visited the site and provided excellent coverage of the project.  The minister recognised that the area would not have benefitted from such publicity without the beaver trial.

We were also keen to explain the importance of wildlife tourism to an area like this.  In January 2015, tourism businesses were invited to attend some pilot workshops (‘Wild about Argyll’) that were sponsored by Argyll and The Isles Tourism Cooperative, SNH and FCS.  I was the presenter of these workshops and was able to relay the enthusiasm that the 24 attendees demonstrated: recognising the wealth of wildlife that this part of Argyll is able to offer the wildlife enthusiast and wanting to work together to promote this area as serious wildlife tourism destination.  It was recognised by businesses in the immediate area that the beaver project provided visitors with some unique wildlife spotting opportunities, and the uncertainty as to whether the reintroduction would continue was a concern for some businesses wanting to use this unique selling point to attract more visitors.

Both myself, Christine & Calum were able to report experience of visitors wanting to stay longer having found out that the trial site was nearby and recognised that visitors who do not see beavers on their first visit are happy to return to give themselves another chance at seeing a beaver.  When visitors are successful in seeing a beaver, they are keen to let their friends and family know by ‘tweeting’ and ‘facebooking’ their experience which is increasing valuable ‘word of mouth’ style marketing for the area.

We discussed with her the diversity of business that were benefitting from the increase in tourism numbers and tourism spend:  illustrating that it is not just accommodation providers who are reaping the benefits: photographing the beavers is a popular attraction, visitors spend money on food and gifts while in the area and in the summer months, many buy midge repellent and nets to allow them longer at the loch side at dusk!

We had 30 minutes talking about these experiences with the minister. She seemed genuinely interested in the positive effect that such a project was having on tourism, recognising that at a time when the whole of the UK was struggling through a recession, we were able to attract a new stream of visitors who had not heard of the Knapdale forest previously and were excited to see an indigenous species returning to shape the Scottish landscape.

Recognising that businesses needed more certainty about the future of the project she assured us that the report was getting her full attention, but that it would still be a while until the final decision is announced.  We were however impressed that she had taken the time in her busy schedule to visit the site and listen to our experiences and we hope that the future of the Knapdale beavers will be

Lynn Jones

Owner: Dunchraigaig House B&B

Kilmartin Glen


Freelance Development Agent – Heart of Argyll and Inveraray

  Argyll & The Isles Tourism Cooperative Ltd

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Environment Ministers visits the Trial site.

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The Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod has visited the Scottish Beaver Trial for the first time since taking up the post last year to learn more about the project ahead of a decision on the future of beavers in Scotland.

The five-year scientific monitoring period of the trial, which was overseen by Scottish Natural Heritage, came to an end last year. Scottish Ministers will decide later this year on allowing beavers to remain in Scotland and if wider reintroductions will take place, after considering the results of the Scottish Beaver Trial, findings from Tayside Beaver Study Group and considerations of European experiences.

The visit allowed  Dr McLeod to meet with officials from the Scottish Beaver Trial, local businesses, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage to learn more about beavers, their effects and the Trial’s impact on the local area.

Project Manager of the Scottish Beaver Trial, Simon Jones, said: “On behalf of the Scottish Beaver Trial, I would like to thank the Minister for taking the time to visit the project and learn more about how the beavers have impacted the area.

“The trial has been very successful in allowing a great deal of important data to the gathered over the last five years – we have learned so much about these fascinating mammals. The research co-ordinated by SNH and the independent monitoring partners has looked at all aspects of the trial re-introduction including impacts on the local economy, the environment and of course the people of Argyll.

“All this information will be of great value in helping the Minster take a decision on the future of beavers in Scotland.”

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod, said: Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Dr McLeod said:

“Today I had the opportunity to see the beaver trial in Knapdale the impacts this trial has had in the local area.  The work of the Scottish Beaver Trial has brought together a wide range of interested parties to examine the impact of beavers.

“I am awaiting advice from Scottish Natural Heritage which will set out the impact of beavers, including the benefits to biodiversity and economic benefits through tourism, provided by the presence of beavers in Scotland.”

The Scottish Beaver Trial is a partnership led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. It is hosted at Knapdale by Forestry Commission Scotland. It is the first licensed reintroduction of a mammal to the UK and brought the beaver back to Scotland after a 400 year absence.

Last year, a YouGov poll found 60% of Scottish adults supported the reintroduction of beavers, with only 5% opposed. Independent monitoring reports released by Scottish Natural Heritage found the Scottish Beaver Trial had positive impacts on the local economy.

During the five year period, the Scottish Beaver Trial has engaged almost 3 million people about beaver ecology through television appearances, educational programmes and site visits. The scientific monitoring required 11,817 hours of fieldwork, such as beaver tracking, lodge surveillance and water sampling.

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Spring Field Sign Searches

During the last two weeks of March, the Scottish beaver trial field staff and volunteers have been busy doing a sweep of the trial area checking for fresh beaver field signs and any notable beaver impacts.

Calm day in the canoe on Lock Linne

Calm day in the canoe on Loch Linne


We ventured out onto some lochs in the canoe to gain a better view. Lots of little wrens followed us as we paddled near the loch banks. We kept a close eye out for fresh feeding stations – key indicators that beavers are still active in that area. We were extremely lucky some days where the water was so calm it was like glass!


We had a total of 12 camera traps to put out over the two weeks to gain a better picture of the distribution of beavers and we did get some excellent footage. At Loch Coille Bharr for example, we recorded two adults on various nights, Millie and Bjornar, grooming each other and feeding. We also sighted Trude, Frank and many other beavers on camera showing they are still very much active and enjoying the area.

Apples and cameras were put out on the new lodge on Barnslaugan Loch

Apples and cameras were put out on the new lodge on Barnslaugan Loch


A recent addition to the area is a new beaver lodge on the loch of Barnslaugan next to the visitor centre. Here we put out some apples to entice the beavers in for a picture to give us an idea of who is present and beavering away. If you are in the area make sure to have a walk along the track to see if you can spot any beaver-chewed sticks and twigs.



Some beaver building work!

We encountered lots of fresh feeding stations and some new constructions. Particularly on Lily loch where beavers have decided to create a little refuge under some conifers as can be seen in the picture on the left.

Some beavers were sighted out and about during the day. We had footage of beaver Frank out at around 3pm – he just couldn’t resist some apples! During the solar eclipse last month, we also saw a beaver out swimming at around 10pm. Ranger Oly suggested that it may have been confused and thought it was dusk!



Now that the clocks have leaped forward and the days are getting lighter, it will soon provide ideal watching conditions at dusk. So if you are out and about in the area in the evenings be sure to stop by as the sun is setting for a dusk watch. You might catch a glimpse of a beaver having a snack!



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Bruce Reaches the Summit

Delegates at the Argyll and Isles Tourism Cooperative Summit had a surprise visitor during their day spent at the splendid Ardgartan Hotel. Bruce, Argyll’s famous representative for the Scottish Beaver Trial, took centre stage during the participants lunchtime photo shoot. Never one to shy away from the media spotlight, Bruce had popped along just to make sure that the beaver community at Knapdale was uppermost in everyone’s minds.

Bruce at Ardgartan

As Bruce himself explained: ‘This event is all about finding ways of attracting more people to the area to enjoy its fantastic scenery, heritage, food and a great diversity of wildlife. I came along today with my Beaver Trial hat on (T-shirt to be precise) to remind folk to tell their customers all about the beavers in Argyll. I’m also a representative for all of the wild creatures that live here that folk might be lucky enough to see during their holiday.’

Earlier in the day delegates had been tested with a quiz all about the many amazing things to see and do in Argyll. One of the questions asked them to identify the largest mammal out of otter, pine marten, red squirrel and beaver. Whilst waiting for the photo shoot to begin one delegate (looking at Bruce) was heard saying to her colleague: ‘I told you the beaver was the biggest on that list!’

Bruce had to leave directly after lunchtime to return to his spring cleaning duties at the lodge. Rumours that he was seen hurrying away with a basket of chocolate brownies are entirely unfounded.

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Beaver Guided Walks starting soon

Spring is definitely well on the way now and your chances of spotting a beaver in Knapdale are increasing with the lighter evenings.  Our guided walks are about to begin over the Easter period. Why not join us for one of them and catch up with the latest beaver activity and tips on where to try spotting one for yourself. Give us a call and book your place now.

Guided Walks Poster Easter 2015

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