When we were setting up LAKE&LOCH, we knew we wanted to somehow incorporate beavers not only into our designs, but ethos as well. You see, as a Canadian-Scottish business, we love beavers. Beavers are famously busy and hugely influential in our ecosystem by creating wetlands, encouraging other creatures and nature to flourish. In fact, beaver dams have been found to help remove up to 45% of harmful nitrogen from water. And did you know that the world’s largest beaver dam, at 2,790 feet, is visible from space and is in a remote area of Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada?
Beavers are also historically important to the founding of modern Canada as well. In the 16th century, beavers were hunted to extinction in the UK, mainly for their fur and glandular oil. In the late 1600s and early 1700s, fur hats – often made from beaver pelt - were extremely fashionable. Early European explorers of Canada soon realised that the demand for fur hats and abundance of beavers in Canada could be hugely lucrative. Indeed, King Henry IV of France saw the fur trade as an opportunity to make vast sums of revenue and to establish a North American empire. The Hudson’s Bay Company, the oldest corporation in Canada, was incorporated by English royal charter in 1670 and was founded on fur trade. So powerful was the Hudson’s Bay Company, it was once the world’s largest landowner, undertaking early exploration of Canada, with traders and trappers establishing relationships with many indigenous tribes. Soon both English and French fur traders were selling beaver pelts in Europe at 20 times their original purchase price.
After being made extinct over 400 years ago, beavers were reintroduced on a trial basis in 2009 in Scotland. So we were really excited when the Scottish government officially welcomed beavers back in November 2016 and were given protected status. They are the first mammals to be reintroduced to the UK.
So, yes, in short, we love beavers. And so should you. That is why we decided to donate £1 from every sale of our Camping Mug Candles to the Scottish Wildlife Trust; they do good work in protecting Scotland's wildlife.
A couple months ago, we decided to go check out the Scottish Beaver Trail in Knapdale Forest, west of Lochgilhead in Argyll. Heading from Glasgow, it’s only a 2 hour 15 minute drive and a pretty lovely one at that.
Once we arrived at Knapdale Forest, we parked our car at the designated parking lot and headed towards the "Beaver Detective Trail".
The trail itself is an easy stroll round Loch Collie Bharr and although we didn't see any beavers, we did spot evidence of them and one of their dams.
Your best chances of spotting beavers are at dusk or dawn as they are most active at night. That being said, it is still a beautiful stroll round the loch and worth it for that visit alone, especially on a sunny day.
On our way back from Knapdale, we stopped into Samphire Seafood restaurant for some dinner. Our meal featured Loch Fyne smoked salmon, delicious locally-smoked haddock chowder and gnocchi. Should you ever find yourself in Inveraray, which is admittedly quite touristy (I have no idea why), then I would recommend it. There is also, of course, the famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, which I have not been to but it's famous for a reason, I guess.
Go say "hi"to the Scottish beavers!