The United Kingdom has its share of national parks but nothing equals the Cairngorms in size and majesty. The Cairngorm National Park is the largest in all of Britain. It is an extensive mountain range with various ecosystems including tundra and pine forests. The mountain range has six of Scotland’s tallest peaks, namely Ben Macdhui (1,309 metres), Braeriach (1,293 metres), Cairn Toul 91,293 metres), Sgor an Lochain Uaine (1,258 metres), and Cairn Gorm (1,245 metres). These peaks boasts of being listed in the top 20 highest mountains in the nation. Cairngorm Mountains is a sectional range of the Grampian Mountains found in central Scotland rising to 1,309 meters (4,295 ft) at Ben Macdhui.
The Cairngorm Mountains are known to be the coldest and highest in the United Kingdom. Forty million years before the most recent ice age that overcame the planet, the Cairngorms were formed. The highest peaks today started out as eroded hills. Today, one of its most prominent features is a massive upland plateau. The peaks are also known to have extremely cold climate and is thus sparsely inhabited. The snow patches in the mountains are very old, and some are known to have melted only five times in 100 years. But the snow patches have been slowly disappearing in the past years due to the warming of the planet.
The Caringorm Mountains has developed into a popular winter sports area. The very first commercial skiing activity in the Cairngorm Mountains was planned and offered to the public by a joint concession of businessmen and landowners in 1950. In 1956 this group decided to set up the “Cairngorm Sports Development Fund” with the goal of raising funds and be able to start their desired Ski Centre Project.
In December of 1961 the Cairngorm Chairlift was opened. Its opening paved the way for the rise of various tourist accommodations and après-ski in areas of Aviemore and Strathspey.
Due to the growing popularity of the place plans were set in place to build there had a ski tow in Ciste Mhearaidh and Marwuis’ Well in the 70s but the plan did not materialize.
Up to and including this period of time the year of 1980 had proven to be the most fruitful period for Cairngorm Mountain. New visitors as well as the ones that had previously visited were returning and enjoying their winter holiday on and around the mountain.
In 1981 new plans were made for additional infrastructures in the area. However none of these plans materialized. Nevertheless the number of visitors kept on increasing winter after winter up to 1988.
CairnGorm Chairlift Company Ltd made their final expansion plans in 1991 which also did not materialize. In 1998 a three-stage development plan for Coire na Ciste was initiated. This new plan included changing all the chairs in the chairlifts and making them easier to use, especially for beginners. There were additional alterations to be made on the configurations in the West Wall Chair that would allow passenger downloading in that station.
This latest plan also included the conversion of the chairs to detachable grip and having Ptarmigan Top Station in operation. Sad to say these development plans never got completed, only the initial development was done. After all the previous development plans failed, no further plans have been made.
In 2001, the Ptarmigan Top Station and Funicular Railway were opened. The company responsible for their construction and operation changed their company name to CairnGorm Mountain Ltd. This company also introduced summer activities into the area. With the introduction of summer activities and the establishment of a new ‘Sunset Dining’ brought about alternative sources of income that helps to support the operations of their new snow sports.
The Scottish Parliament established two parks in 2002 and the Caringorms National Park in 2003. To the Scots the Cairngorms National Park, located in the northeast region of Scotland, is “Pàirc Nàiseanta a’ Mhonaidh Ruaidh.”
Cairngorms National Park is categorized as a category 5 park and is therefore a protected area. The total area of coverage of this park is about 1,748 square miles or 4,528 sq. km.
The Spey River and Dee River valleys encircle the high peaks and inhabited towns found in the immediate vicinity. A restoration project targeting the Spey River is currently in the works. The initiative seeks to “restore the river to a more natural state.” This project is funded jointly by the government of Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Spey Fishery Board, and the Cairngorms National Park Authority.
Sadly, the Cairngorms area is now under threat due to human disturbance and erosion. The quality of the available water is also at risk. There are three ski resorts in the area and the popular winter ski sport is causing human encroachment in an otherwise pristine ecosystem. The developments being done in the area have come under fire from conservationists particularly because of its designation as a protected area.
Skiing is not the only sport practiced on the Cairngorm Mountain slopes. Tourists also visit the Cairngorm Mountains to participate in mountain climbing or to simply walk and explore the majestic beauty of its hills.
The Caringorm Mountains and its surrounding area is also rife for fly fishing and bird watching.
If you are looking for a new life adventure do consider visiting the great majestic Caringorm Mountains of the Scottish Highlands. You’ll be so glad you did!