13 things you might not know about the Cairngorms National Park
23 April 2020
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will wait for you, #ABDNwillwait #stayathome.
- The Cairngorms National Park’s highly unique landscape and climate also gives rise to some of the most unusual wildlife in the UK, too. It’s home to a whopping quarter of the UK's entire threatened species population, including the likes of the capercaillie, the pine marten, the golden eagle, the red squirrel and the wild cat. Ptarmigan, a gamebird found exclusively in the Scottish Highlands, too, particularly like the arctic plateau and make it their home.
- It’s the best place in Britain to spot the only bird that is only found in Britain: the Scottish Crossbill.
- Its flora and fauna are remarkable too. Did you know that you can find the world’s smallest tree in the Park? The ‘tiny least willow’. Or that the beautiful heather that carpets the landscape covers 40% of the Park? In turn, this vast variety of heather creates perfect nesting ground for birds like red grouse and capercaillie, as well as food for the many deer that roam free.
- The Cairngorms National Park is so unique that several spots have been given ‘SSSI’ status (that stands for Sites of Special Scientific Interest). For example, Craigendarroch on the east side. There are also 9 National Nature Reserves all over the Park, to protect the environment. On the east side of the Park, there’s Corrie Fee, Glen Tanar, Mar Lodge and Muir of Dinnet.
- The Cairngorms is the biggest National Park in the UK. At 4528 sq kilometres in area, it’s 40% larger than the Lake District, twice the size of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and bigger than the entire country of Luxembourg!
- The Cairngorms contains a quarter of all Scotland’s forestland, populated by a rare type of pine which is only found in Scotland and Norway.
- Another legend has it that Am Fear Liath Mòr, a ‘big grey man’ in Gaelic, lives on the Park’s biggest mountain, Ben Macdui. Some believe he’s a yeti, others believe him to be an apparition, a brocken spectre, seen in the shadows when sun shines through the mist.
- The rivers and lochs here are amongst the cleanest in the UK. The River Dee’s name actually comes from the word ‘Devan’ which means ‘Goddess’, a nod to its purity as well as beauty and majesty. It’s no wonder, then, that the entire area on the east side of the Cairngorms National Park borrows the river’s name, and is known as ‘Deeside’.
- ‘Deeside’ is also commonly known as ‘Royal Deeside’ due to its rich history of connections with the monarchy. These connections live on today with Balmoral Castle being the treasured retreat of Queen Elizabeth II and her family. Apparently, the Queen particularly loves horse riding and driving her Range Rover around the Balmoral Estate. And according to her granddaughter, Princess Eugenie, the Queen is “most happy there”.
- The Royal Lochnagar Distillery, near Crathie, was awarded a Royal Warrant in 1848 after a visit from Queen Victoria. Prince Charles continues to be a fan of the distillery, visiting in 1988 to mark the 140th anniversary of the first royal visit. Many of the local businesses have royal warrants, so you can really live like a king this side of the Park!
- Prince Charles’ love of the Cairngorms National Park is well known. In Scotland, he’s known as the Duke of Rothesay. Indeed, such is his love for the area that the new Braemar Highland Games Centre named its pavilion after him. This is in recognition of his support of this local business, and others in the area, through his charity The Prince’s Foundation. Prince Charles and his family are also great fans of attending Braemar’s Highland Games, regularly seen clapping in the crowd!
- At the nearby luxury hotel in Braemar, the Fife Arms, you can even see some of Prince Charles’s and Queen Victoria’s own watercolour drawings. This artwork is displayed alongside greats such as Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud, Gerhard Richter and Bruegel. You can also see a wax work of Queen Victoria, in the hotel’s library, that was made by the famous London museum Madame Tussauds.
- Three of Scotland’s five ski resorts are in the Park: Glenshee, the Lecht and Cairngorm mountain.
To find out more about the Cairngorms National Park in Aberdeenshire go to https://visitcairngorms.com/. Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will wait for you, #ABDNwillwait #stayathome.