“To stand amongst the weather beaten granite rocks in the mountains is to feel geological time.”
The Cairngorms National Park, in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, is the largest national park in the UK. From the Angus Glens to Aviemore and beyond, Scotland’s national park is a playground for natives and visitors alike. The old Gaelic name for the Cairngorm Mountains is Am Monadh Ruadh which roughly translates as The Red Mountains. Shortly after the final remaining glaciers retreated, following the last ice age, the freshly shattered rocks of this mountain range would have shone the warm blushing shades of pink granite. Through the ages, most of those sharp, freshly revealed rocks were weathered and rounded by the elements and today the mountains display a colder greyish hue with a covering of lichens and mosses. However, the ancient glow and spirit of the Red Mountains is still there to behold.
The Cairngorms National Park is blessed with clean rivers and sparkling lochs set against a backdrop of high mountains. It is in these mountains that many of Scotland’s iconic rivers are born, from the Dee to the Don and the Mark to the Tilt. Fishing, swimming, windsurfing, paddle sports, sailing, or the excitement of gorge walking are all within easy reach of many of the towns and villages in the Cairngorms National Park, including Aviemore, Angus Glens, Royal Deeside, Glenlivet, Atholl and Glenshee areas.
Hill Walking and Climbing
There are 55 Munros and 26 Corbetts within our national park, including four of the five highest mountains in Scotland. Crowning iconic plateaus such as Ben Macdui and Lochnagar dominate the central and eastern Cairngorms. There are some fantastic hills around the communities of the National Park that are a great introduction to hill walking for all ages and abilities. Creag Bheag at Kingussie and Morone in Braemar present all the challenges of a Munro or Corbett but in miniature form. One of the City Life favourites is a family walk up to the Corrie Fee in Glen Doll, just up the glen from another popular walk at Loch Brandy.
The pull of the mountains, white with snow, means that winter sports play a big part of life in the Cairngorms. Three ski centres; Cairn Gorm, The Lecht and Glenshee, are open from around December to May (weather permitting). These three centres cater for downhill skiing, telemark skiing and snowboarding. Cross-country skiing centres at the Slochd and Glenmore also offer miles of ski trails and forest tracks.
This is only a flavour of what is possible, as there is so much more on offer for you and your family to do – castle hunting, camping, pony trekking, nature trailing and wildlife spotting just to name a few. So, go on an adventure and explore Scotland’s national park this year and see what you can discover in the shadows of the Am Monadh Ruadh.
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