For the first time the public will be given ‘virtual’ access to beavers thanks to a new online tour.  

The National Trust has launched a cutting edge virtual reality tour of its beaver enclosure on the Holnicote estate on Exmoor in Somerset. The tour can be accessed using virtual reality headsets.

The VR headsets will be made available at Fyne Court, between Taunton and Bridgwater, from February 11 to 16, and at Brean Down from February 18 to 19.  

By wearing the headset visitors will be fully immersed into the virtual world, which has been created using high resolution 360 degree cameras. The tour features trail footage of the beavers' everyday lives, drone footage of the enclosure and a ‘question and answer session’ with a beaver expert. 

Tourists will be able to see the antics of baby beavers Rashford, Russo and Toone, as well as other wildlife including kingfishers, stoat and roe deer.

Charlotte Burke, National Trust Senior Programming and Partnerships Officer for the Exmoor coast said: “After taking the tour on Virtual Reality headsets to community events this winter, we discovered it had brilliant multi-generational appeal with people of all ages enjoying being able to explore the beaver’s natural environment this way.”  

The tour can also be accessed online at the charity’s website.

Ben Eardley, Project Manager for the National Trust at Holnicote, said: “Beavers are such fascinating mammals that we wanted to find a way of sharing their antics and to enable people to find out more about these shy species.”  

He added: “Web users are just one click away from being able to explore beaver constructed dams, ponds, canals and wetlands and see and hear some of the wildlife the habitat supports."

2023 marks the third year since beavers were released onto Exmoor. The aim of the release was to slow the flow of water through the landscape and reduce flooding, as well as to improve biodiversity. 

Since that time the beavers have successfully bred and now have three babies, known as kits. Now the virtual reality tour has made it possible to take a close up and personal tour of the wild animals and their den. 

The virtual tour received funding from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, aimed to kick-start environmental renewal whilst creating and retaining a range of jobs.