New Beaver Trail is open for business

In December 2023, after a 400-year hiatus, Rothiemurchus became the first place in the Cairngorms National Park to offer a home to beavers once again. The Cairngorms National Park Authority has taken the lead on reintroducing beavers in this region, releasing them in line with Scotland’s Beaver Strategy. Since December, the Park Authority’s Beaver Project team has been working closely with land managers and local communities, including our rangers, to get the beaver’s new life in the wild off to a strong start. A pair were released at Rothiemurchus, and several others released across neighbouring land.

Six months in, we’re all learning how to live alongside this shy species. Our approach has been to give them time and space to settle in – while keeping track of their location and any changes they make to water courses and wetland areas. Initially, we fed them, but they are now self-sufficient and thriving, and already forming a key part of the ecosystem. This is precisely what we had hoped for, so it’s great news!

The Beaver Trail

To help our visitors explore the beaver habitat for themselves, we’ve named a pre-existing trail for feet, wheels and paws after them. Eagle-eyed Rothiemurchus regulars will notice that we have also introduced some new signage and interpretation boards so that people can learn more about beavers.

Starting from the Farm Shop and Barn Café, the Beaver Trail is a 7km loop that takes in Lochan Mor and Loch an Eilein. It’s brilliant to see the path being enjoyed by users of all ages and abilities, and we’re sure it will be a popular choice for all of our 2024 visitors. We employed the talents of local timber craftsman Doug Edwards to create the “beaver-chewed” logs that hold helpful tidbits of information along the way.

 

 

While the new residents seem very comfortable in their new surroundings, we should all still be mindful to give them space, be quiet and respectful in their vicinity, keep dogs under close control and stick to paths.

 

A place for all

Much of our new path and signage work has resulted from collaboration with the Park Authority Beaver Project, plus involvement with another Park Authority-led initiative: the Cairngorms Capercaillie Project. This latter project allowed us to spend time listening to what visitors and visitor-facing staff think about Rothiemurchus so we can ensure it remains a sustainable haven for tourists and wildlife alike.

Our learnings from this research are reflected in the work that’s taken place since: a redesigned map of Rothiemurchus to help walkers and cyclists navigate more easily, new trailside maps and signage with information on local flora and fauna, a brand new digital map  and the creation of more places to rest and relax. A lack of toilets was a common theme, so we’re also pleased to have ten new loos at the Barn Cafe.

An exciting summer season ahead

We hope that visitors to Rothiemurchus will now find it easier to get around, and we’re excited to share our new beaver knowledge.

We’re also not finished with making improvements, and we look forward to sharing more about that soon. In the meantime, here’s a little sneak peek at what we’re currently working on:

 

 – Creating a bespoke illustrated information panel all about beavers and the Rothiemurchus wetlands.

 – Turning the exit vestibule at the Barn Café into a sheltered area, where you can soak in all the info without getting soaked!

Here’s to a fantastic 2024 summer season at Rothiemurchus, with lots of happy people and animals of all varieties – including capercaillie and beavers – enjoying this special landscape side-by-side.