The Cairngorms (Scottish Gaelic: Am Monadh Ruadh) are a mountain range in the eastern Highlands of Scotland closely associated with the mountain of the Cairn Gorm. The Cairngorms became part of Scotland’s second national park (the Cairngorms National Park) in September 2003. Although the Cairngorms give their name to, and are at the heart of, the Cairngorms National Park, they only form one part of the national park, alongside other hill ranges such as the Angus Glens and the Monadhliath, and lower areas like Strathspey.
The Cairngorms form an arctic-alpine mountain environment, with tundra-like characteristics and long-lasting snow patches. This area is home to bird species such as ptarmigan, dotterel, snow bunting, curlew and red grouse, as well as mammals such as mountain hare. The plateaux also support Britain’s only herd of reindeer. Surrounding the central area are many remnants of the Caledonian forest in straths and glens of the Rivers Spey and Dee. These forests support many species that are rare elsewhere in Britain, including red squirrels, pine marten, wood ants, Scottish crossbill, capercaillie and crested tit.
I was lucky to visit the area in October 2020, just before Lockdown 2 arrived and I have to say it’s well worth a visit! The workshop was based at Ballintean Mountain Lodge and guided by Peter Cairns, who is now Executive Director of a rewilding charity Scotland: The Big Picture.
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