Views of Cairngorms National Park - Scotland
The Cairngorms is a large elevated plateau, and is home to four of Scotland’s five highest mountains (there are 52 summits over 900 metres), the tallest of which being Ben Macdui (1309m). Queen Victoria, on reaching the summit in 1859 wrote: "It had a sublime and solemn effect, so wild, so solitary — no one but ourselves and our little party there . . . I had a little whisky and water, as the people declared pure water would be too chilling."
However, Cairngorms National Park is more than just The Cairngorms mountain range – there is also a rich tapestry of unique mountainous areas of wild land, moorlands, forests, rivers, lochs and glens. Cairngorms National Park also has sites listed as of importance to natural heritage that make up 39% of the total land area.
Cairngorms National Park is 3800 sq kilometres in area, nearly twice the size of the Lake District, with rich, heather-covered moorland covering much of the land, its rivers, lochs and marshes are some of the cleanest in Scotland - home are home to large populations of endangered freshwater pearl mussels, as well as salmon, trout, and rare lampreys.
The wild and varied environs of Cairngorms National Park are also home to a variety of animal and bird life. The Scottish Crossbill - the only bird unique to Britain – can be found here, as can Golden Eagle, Osprey, Dotterell, Capercaillie, and Crested Tit. Among animal life, pine martens, red squirrels, badgers, wildcats, water vole, and otters are all integral the Park’s unique ecosystem.
But it’s not just animals that are well represented in and around the rugged hills and mountains – Cairngorms National Park is also home to 17,000 people living an array of diverse lifestyles in towns, villages, hamlets and single houses. Population density is low at 4.2 people per square kilometre. Major conurbations include Aviemore, Ballater, Braemar, Badenoch, Strathspey and Grantown-on-Spey.
Tourism accounts for 80% of Cairngorms’ economy, providing skiing, climbing, fishing, shooting and canoeing opportunities for some of the 500,000 (2001 figures) visitors to the Park every year, with Badenoch and Strathspey attracting most of these.
For more information on walking in Cairngorms try The Cairngorms: Walks, Trails and Scrambles (2005 RRP £12.95) by Ronald Turnbull.
Hiking in the Scotish Highlands
Our Scotland hiking tour will lead you on a journey through the Highlands, discovering Scotland's rich wildlife and history as you hike through beautiful landscapes. We start in Wester Ross in the northwest Highlands, then move south to Loch Ness to explore the central and west Highlands before finishing with a couple of days exploring the wild corners of Cairngorms National Park, with its distinctive landscape of high plateaus and glaciated glens. Along the way, we climb munros (Scottish mountains over 3000 ft), explore the summer isles by private yacht, step inside a picture-perfect Highland castle, and enjoy a dram of whisky at a local friends distillery.
# Adventurous days on the hill will be balanced by relaxing evenings in charming Highland hotels where the outstanding cuisine will leave you ready for the challenges of the next day. This is Scotland done as a Scot would do.