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Green Travel Guide to the Cairngorms National Park

Words by Paul Bloomfield.
Artwork for Green Traveller's Guides by Tina Smith and Mark Edwards.

Forword by Alan Rankin, 
Chief Executive of Visit Cairngorms

The Cairngorms is Britain's largest National Park (at over 4,500sq km, almost twice the size of the Lake District, the next largest Park in the UK). The area’s mountains have shaped the people, culture, natural heritage, scenery and character and dominate the National Park as well as giving it its name.


The Park is home to ancient pine forests, arctic mountain tops, lochs, rivers and moorland as well as some of the most iconic wildlife, and a quarter of the UK's threatened species. In fact, 50% of the Park is designated as being of national and international importance for nature conservation.

The area was voted as one of the top 20 places to visit in the world by the National Geographic Traveller Magazine – and for good reason!

It contains four of Scotland’s five highest mountains, is home to 3 of the country’s ski areas and has significant stretches of 2 of Scotland’s major rivers (The Spey and Dee).


This Green Traveller's Guide to the Cairngorms National Park will you give you lots of ideas on what to do, where to stay and where to eat, drink and shop. The guide highlights businesses that are working hard to look after this special place and to provide a fulfilling and rewarding experience for visitors while minimising the environmental impact.

From castles, distilleries and museums to gentle strolls and extreme sports, there is an abundance of exciting activities for the entire family to learn and enjoy throughout the year.  Team that with the high quality food and drink (including beef and lamb, salmon and whisky) the area produces and it’s easy to see what brings people here.


We hope to see you soon!

What Green Traveller's writers discovered in the Cairngorms

The high plateaus, ancient forests and rolling mountains of the Cairngorms make this part of the Scottish Highlands more akin to Scandinavia than the rest of the UK. The epic landscapes of this raw, wild land, harboring wonderful wildlife, can be explored on foot, bike or by paddle power. Those who come to appreciate the dramatic scenery will be rewarded with cuisines ranging from the hearty to the sophisticated, as well as some of Scotland’s finest whiskey distilleries. There’s history and culture, too, with medieval castles, galleries and wonderful open-air museums.

  • The Park is 3800 sq kilometres in area, 40% larger than the Lake District and twice the size of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

  • Five of Scotland's six highest mountains lie within the Park, there are 52 summits over 900 metres. 10% of the land area is over 800 metres and 68% is over 400 metres above sea level

  • The forests of the Cairngorms contain remnants of the original Caledonian pine forest and includes a rare kind of pinewood found only in Scotland and Norway

  • The National Park is home to 25% of the UK's threatened bird, animal and plant species

  • The National Park is home to around 16,000 people, living in substantial towns, villages, hamlets, and houses in the countryside. At 4.2 people per square kilometre, the population density is very low

  • Tourism-related businesses account for about 80% of the economy, including activities such as ski-ing, walking, fishing, shooting and stalking and it is thought that at least 1.4m people visit the Cairngorms each year

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