Cairngorms National Park
Britain's largest National Park
Cairngorms National Park
The Cairngorms National Park is the largest in the United Kingdom. This upland tundra-like plateau resembles Hardangervidda Park in Norway and rises to over a thousand meters. Eroded mountain peaks litter the landscape as well as Tors, a type of rocky outcrop.
See Golden Eagles, Red Deer, Mountain hare and Reindeer thrive in the environment. The unique semi-tundra habitat supports rare plants and animals. The Cairngorms National Park has the remnants of old forest known as the Caledonian Forest; it is a temperate rainforest with ancient Scots Pines.
The Cairngorms is rather special, and we want you to enjoy it. Let our Tour-Designers create a tailor-made Scotland tour for you and your family and include a day in the Cairngorms.
The Great Outdoors
Introduction to the Cairngorms National Park
Britain's wildlife haven
The Cairngorms National Park is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and offers unlimited opportunities for every type of exercise you can name. The park covers an area of over 1,748 sq ml (4,528 km2), the park has more mountains, rocks, paths, rivers, and lochs than you could ever visit. It has a greater diversity of wildlife and is home to more birds than almost anywhere else in Great Britain. Stunning scenery, a host of attractive villages, and world-class distilleries are among the other reasons to tour the Cairngorms National Park.
While the Cairngorm Mountains lie at the heart of the national park, they are just a part of it with other hill ranges, the Angus Glens and the Monadhliath included. Nine peaks in the park are over 4,000ft, with at least a dozen above 3,000ft. The Cairngorm Mountains are the highest landmass in Britain and take their name from Cairn Gorm, which, at 4,084ft, is the least dramatic in the range; it isn't even the tallest. However, it is the most accessible, with road access up to a car park, from where a chair lift leads almost to the top with a final short scramble to reach the very peak.
At this height, the weather can close in within minutes, even in summer. Thus, warm clothes, food, a map, and a compass are essential for anyone walking in the mountains. A funicular railway is another option for ascending Cairn Gorm and allows breath-taking views over the Spey Valley.
Around 470 million years ago, vast pressures and intense heat deep within the earth folded the rock crust, forcing large areas of molten granite upwards that then cooled over the next 20 million years. Together with the ice age's erosional forces 2.5 million years ago, these events have created the landscape we see today.
Perhaps surprisingly, the area only became designated as a National Park as recently as 2000 and was one of the first pieces of legislation passed by the devolved Scottish Parliament.
Visiting The Cairngorms
The Cairngorms offer year-round opportunities for visits. Aviemore was, at one time, an unremarkable village. That all changed with building a multimillion all year round holiday complex catering for a wide range of leisure pursuits, including shops, theatres, hotels, a swimming pool, ice rink, and a whole range of other activities. Ski schools and skiing and winter sports are, of course, major attractions.
Activities range across walking, cycling, mountain biking, climbing, and canoeing. The Highland Wildlife Park offers less energetic pursuits, with the Strathspey Heritage Railway also popular. The park is also home to six distilleries and a brewery, several of which run regular visitor tours. More details on these attractions are in our Whisky Trail tour.
Nature in the Cairngorms
It is no exaggeration to describe the Cairngorms as a magnificent wilderness. The mountains are home to many rare plants, birds, and animals. Ospreys and Golden Eagles soar above the high peaks. Bird species seldom seen elsewhere are present in the park and include breeding ptarmigan, dotterel, snow bunting, golden eagle, and red grouse. Home to mountain hares and Red Deer, reindeer herds are also present in the high Cairngorms.
Extensive areas of ancient woodlands, called the Caledonian forest, support a wide variety of bird species, flora, and fauna. The disparate conditions enable a wide variety of floras to thrive, ranging from heather and deer grass in the lower ground mixed woodlands through to lichens, woodrush, and moss campion at the high sub-polar plateau.
Several rivers rise in the Cairngorm Mountains, creating floodplain and wetland conditions. These are important for many species of both resident and migrant birds, including shoveler and goldeneye ducks. Waders include redshank, snipe, and curlew, along with winter visitors from Iceland such as greylag geese and whooper swans. The River Dee classified as a Special Conservation Area important for salmon, otters, and Freshwater Pearl Mussels.
Touring and accommodation
All of our suggested itineraries of Scotland feature the Highlands and at least one of Scotland's National Parks. It is no secret that the wild countryside of Scotland is admired and greatly loved by the British. Let our team of Tour-Designers tailor tours that includes a guided tour of the Cairngorms in detail. We can provide expert local guides making the most of your trip to Scotland. See our selection of suggested private tours of Scotland.
Visitors can tour the grounds and gardens of Her Majesty the Queen's Scottish home Balmoral Castle. Tour Blair Castle on the southern fringes of the Cairngorms, the home of the Atholl family for seven centuries.
Experience 4x4 Off-Road Driving in Scotland, choose between various picturesque sites.
There are many choices for accommodation in the region. We have a soft spot for Gleneagles Hotel and Spa. It is an excellent base to tour the Trossachs National Park and the Cairngorms National Park, including the Whisky Trail. Fonab Castle Hotel and Spa in the resort town of Pitlochry is perfectly situated to tour the park and Perthshire.
Britain's highest land mass
Ski, Bike, Whisky, Castles and Culture
- National Park Guides Available
- Hiking Trails
- Wildlife Watching
- Off-Road Driving Activity
Help us make your trip exceptional
Our UK, EU and US office-based staff will listen to what you want to see and experience.
Whether you are a honeymoon couple, a family or a corporate incentive group, our team’s collective resources will be brought together to build the experience that’s right for you.
We will require your arrival and departure dates, details of your personal preferences and places that you would like to visit as well as the events you would like to experience.
We will then prepare a draft itinerary and send it to you by email for your approval. Once agreed, we will send you a Booking Confirmation with Personalised Itinerary and Information Pack via email.