Lewis Hetherington swims with beavers

Days before the lockdown began, we made it back to Bamff Estate in Perthshire - the site of Scotland's first reintroduced beavers. Moving on from our usual walking methods, we donned neoprene and attempted some creative swimming experiments. While our usual writing and research is curtailed, here are some images and a couple of short texts from Lewis Hetherington. 

Also see Laura Bissell's 'Landscaping with beavers' just published in RUUKKU: Studies in Artistic Research, special edition on 'Ecologies of practice'.


Swimming With Beavers, Bamff Estate. March 2020



  1. Song to a Beaver


O Beaver!

How I long to see ya.

I’d like us to be friends,

maybe that is impossible,

I, a human,

You, a beaver.

I marvel at your work, dams, sculptures, waterways, all,

but I fear that you may be indifferent to my writing

both broadly but also specifically this poem,

yes, even this poem,

which I have written for you

(who is the you? Who is this generic beaver? anyway...).

I also accept that it’s fine and indifferent,

or more precisely,


of my poem,

for you have already given me gifts,

for example, the inspiration to write this poem.

Thank you beaver. And Goodnight. 



  1. Traces of Beavers, Bamff Estate, 14th March 2020.


  • gnawed chips of wood
  • fallen trees
  • caves made of fallen tree roots
  • me
  • us, trudging through the rain looking for beavers
  • sculptures of broken trees
  • fallen boughs
  • upturned roots
  • boggy spread where land and water co-mingle
  • spikes of tree stump chewed to a point
  • stripped bark leaving trees of gold reclining luxuriously across the soft green banks of moss
  • dams
  • each individual twig, branch, log and trunk which make up the dams
  • the pictures I have taken of all these things
  • the list I am making now
  • the imagination of beavers which I had in my head this morning
  • the imagination of beavers which I have in my head now I have been here and seen their engineering
  • the WhatsApp message I sent to Iain with a photo of a beaver gnawed tree trunk
  • the individual teeth marks on each individual tree trunk
  • the many WhatsApp messages I sent to friendsto say ‘I’m swimming with beavers!’ when they asked me what I was doing this weekend
  • the tracks, almost like chutes, down to the waters edge, made by beavers
  • our footprints on the water’s edge, and in the water, how we disturbed the silky sludge and weeds on the bottom of the water, and whatever traces of dirt and microbes from the cities we came from as we waded into the water
  • the log fire and its smoke that burns as I write this
  • the hope that I will see a beaver tonight
  • these, amongst many others that I have thought, and not thought about, are the traces of beavers that I have encountered today.
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