Cairn Gorms, Aviemore Scotland – Day 8
Today we visited the beautiful, dangerous, fragile and unique Cairngorms as it is lovingly referred to here.
From our cottage in Carrbridge we drove through the little town of Aviemore and up the Cairngorms to take the funicular to the second highest point in the U.K. at 3600 feet only topped by Ben Nevis in Glencoe which we will see next week.
Unfortunately, it was a wet, foggy and dismal day and our view? Well….non-existent!
I’ve heard about the Cairngorms throughout my life and never knew what they were referring to. Little did I know this is where the Scots, Brits and Welch go skiing, dog sledding, snowboarding and all. Moreover, never had I heard of a mountain where the countrymen take such painstaking care to protect from people leaving their “footprint” – both literally and metaphorically – with, perhaps, the exception being Antarctica. Little did I know that every step I take in the mountains of Chile, Honduras, China, Sri Lanka, around the world, I was potentially destroying life whether plant life or otherwise. The protectors of the Cairngorms taught me this. Learning this won’t stop me from hiking and I don’t think the Scots are suggesting otherwise but here they take pride in their conservation efforts and I do respect that a great deal. For instance, here you must have a special guide to hike around at the top of the Cairngorms or you can’t leave the funicular perimeter.
But skiing??? Oh heck yeah there is skiing! Cairngorms has gone on my list for skiing along with the Alps and the Pyranese. You do have to be careful up here though. The weather can turn on you in a matter of minutes. But if you do come here when there is 70 feet of snow for skiing or hiking or both watch for the Cairngorms most frightening inhabitant – the Am Fear Liath Mohr or the Big Grey Man. He has been described as a huge yeti-like creature and heard only by his menacing footsteps. Apparently, he has scared hikers senseless for centuries. They flee from the mountain in terror after coming into contact with this apparition. the museum at Cairngorms gave us their rendition and I contributed mine! (See below. LOL.)
Lions, tigers and polar bears oh my!! What you talkin’ about Willis? There are no polar bears in Scotland! Oh but there are. After we came down from this mist filled Cairngorms sky, we went on a safari of sorts at the Highland Wildlife Park where you drive through a portion of the habitat and walk through a portion of the habitat. We photographed all kinds of animals including, yes, polar bears! You can’t get out of the car despite how much you might want too but I slid my little ass out the car window and used the top of the car as my tripod (or rather my monopod) and it was amazing! I felt like I was on a real safari. See below the animals Papa (a/k/a Marc Christensen) and I were able to capture on film as well as the featured photo by March Christensen of a Polar Bear swimming (or maybe he is shaking his head saying ‘don’t take my picture as I’m feeling a little self-conscious today!’) PS Don’t you just love their eyes (and the Olympus camera that allows me to zoom in and get the windows to the soul on film)!!!
And lastly, don’t you just love this kind of traffic jam….
That’s all for now from the Cairngorms.