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The Cairngorms, located 30 minutes south of Inverness, are a deceptively gentle looking group of mountains which rise steeply from the surrounding countryside into a large plateaux. Home to some of the UK's highest mountains, the Cairngorm environment provides a hillwalkers dream if ticking off several summits in quick succession is your aim.
The terrain is often rocky, seemingly undulating and provides excellent examples of glaciated features. Many forms of flora and fauna can be seen throughout the area, and it is particularly good if studying wildlife and insect habitats is of interest. Be warned though, the weather can change very quickly, and the once benign rolling landscape becomes a navigators nightmare in poor visibility.
The range is split into two distinct areas; the Northern Cairngorms and the Southern Cairngorms.
Northern Cairngorms; this area is home to the Northern Corries - a collection of three deep corries (Cas, t-Sneachda and Lochan) which provide a mecca for climbers all year round. Here you will also find the famous Cairngorm with its funicular railway which gives access to the Ptarmigan restaurant, a stones throw from the summit at 1245m. Particularly famous for its winter sports, the terrain and gradients provide excellent slopes for all skill levels, and the past few winters have been particularly good for Scottish snow sports.
Scotlands National Mountain Training Centre, Glenmore Lodge, is located north of the Cairngorms and use the Northern Cairngorms for many of their courses and qualifications. An ideal training ground, the harshness of the environment and the navigation difficulties which the Northern Cairngorms provide are unparalleled. Ben MacDui, the UK's second highest peak at 1309m is also home to the infamous 'Grey Man of Ben MacDui', a huge, long strided being who has chased away many a wandering fellow caught in the mists of the mountain.
Southern Cairngorms; The Southern Cairngorms encompass the areas of Glen Shee, Braemar and Lochnagar. Although these mountains are a little dwarfed by their northern neighbours, their sheer remoteness makes them an incredible experience. Lochnagar is quite famous through song and verse, as well as providing some excellent but rather remote climbing. Braemar is, of course, on royal ground, so keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of some Royal visitors! Glen Shee is another winter sports hot spot when the conditions allow. For many of these mountains, an overnight stay is often a good idea to ensure you get the most out of the area.
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