Scotland // The Highland region //

Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park covers some 1500 square miles and incorporates the Cairngorms massif, the UK’s largest mountainscape and only sizeable plateau over 2500ft. While Aviemore and the surrounding area is the main point of entry, particularly for those planning outdoor activities, it’s also possible to access the eastern side of the park from both Deeside and Donside in Aberdeenshire. There are 52 summits higher than 2953ft in the park, as well as a quarter of Scotland’s native woodland, and a quarter of the UK’s threatened wildlife species. Vegetation ranges from one of the largest tracts of ancient Caledonian pine and birch forest remaining in Scotland, at Rothiemurchus, to subarctic tundra on the high plateau, where alpine flora such as starry saxifrage and the star-shaped pink flowers of moss campion peek out of the pink granite in the few months of summer that the ground is free of snow. Birds of prey you’re most likely to see are the osprey, especially at Loch Garten’s osprey observation centre, or fishing on the lochs around Aviemore.