12 Surprising Facts About The Cairngorms National Park
16 March 2023
Here at Cairngorms Activities, we consider ourselves extremely fortunate to be based in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Located in Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park, our home within the park offers some of the most breathtaking views in Scotland.
The Cairngorms national park is the largest national park in the United Kingdom. It covers over 4,500 square kilometres and is home to a stunning range of landscapes, from mountains and forests to rivers and lochs.
We could rave about how the Cairngorms is one of Scotland's most popular tourist destinations, but instead, we thought we'd share a few surprising facts you may not know about this spectacular location.
1. It's home to some of the UK's rarest wildlife.
Cairngorms National Park is a biodiversity hotspot, with over a quarter of the UK's rarest wildlife species within its borders. This includes the Scottish wildcat, the capercaillie, the osprey, and many species of butterfly, moth, and beetle. It's also one of the best places in the UK for birdwatching, with over 280 bird species recorded within its borders.
2. It has the highest peak outside the Scottish Highlands in the UK.
Ben Macdui, located in the Cairngorms mountain range, is the second-highest peak in Scotland and the highest in the UK outside of the Scottish Highlands. It stands at the height of 1,309 meters (4,295 feet) and offers stunning views across the park.
3. It has a unique ecosystem that's under threat.
Cairngorms National Park is home to a unique sub-Arctic ecosystem, which includes a variety of plant and animal species adapted to the harsh mountain environment. However, this ecosystem is threatened by climate change, habitat loss, and other factors. The park is working to protect this unique ecosystem through conservation efforts and public awareness campaigns.
4. It's home to one of the UK's oldest forests.
The Caledonian Forest, which covers around 1% of Cairngorms National Park, is one of the UK's oldest forests, dating back to the last ice age. It's a unique ecosystem that supports a wide range of plant and animal species.
5. It's a popular destination for winter sports.
Cairngorms National Park is a winter sports enthusiast's dream, with five ski resorts within its borders. The most famous of these is the Cairngorm Mountain Ski Resort, which boasts 32 runs and is one of Scotland's most popular ski resorts.
6. It's a designated Dark Sky Park.
Cairngorms National Park is one of only five Dark Sky Parks in the UK. It has been designated as an area with minimal light pollution and excellent stargazing conditions. On a clear night, visitors can see thousands of stars, the Milky Way and other celestial objects. The park offers several stargazing events throughout the year, including guided tours and astronomy talks.
7. It's a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
Cairngorms National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. With its rugged mountains, sparkling lochs, and winding rivers, the park offers endless outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, paddle boarding, and kayaking. For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, the park has scenic walking trails offering stunning landscape views.
8. It's home to the highest railway in the UK.
The Cairngorm Mountain Railway is the highest in the UK, reaching an altitude of 1,097 meters (3,599 feet). It offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and is a popular tourist attraction.
9. It has a rich cultural heritage.
Cairngorms National Park has a rich cultural heritage, with evidence of human settlement dating back over 8,000 years. The park is home to a number of historic sites, including Bronze Age cairns, Pictish stones, and medieval castles. Visitors can learn more about the park's cultural heritage through guided tours and museum exhibits.
10. It's home to the UK's only herd of reindeer.
That's right - the Cairngorms are home to a herd of around 150 free-roaming reindeer. The herd was introduced in 1952 and has been managed by the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre ever since. Visitors can take a guided tour to see the reindeer up close and learn more about their history and behaviour.
11. It has a unique ecosystem that's under threat.
Cairngorms National Park is home to a unique sub-Arctic ecosystem, which includes a variety of plant and animal species adapted to the harsh mountain environment. However, this ecosystem is threatened by climate change, habitat loss, and other factors. The Cairngorms National Park Authority is working to protect this unique ecosystem through conservation efforts and public awareness campaigns.
12. It's a popular location for filming.
Cairngorms National Park has been a filming location for several movies and TV shows, including the James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough" and the BBC series "Monarch of the Glen".