Situated mainly between Speyside and Deeside in the eastern Scottish Highlands, the Cairngorms are an area of mountain wilderness containing 5 of Scotland's 9 peaks of over 4,000 feet in height and are home to a wide range of arctic flora as well as to Britain's only herd of reindeer. Snow lies on the ground here for longer than anywhere else in Scotland. The Cairngorms National Park was created in 2003 and covers nearly 1,500 square miles and includes some of the remotest country in the Scottish Highlands. The Park is a year round destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
The mountains themselves have a more rounded appearance than their West Highland counterparts though in several places the high plateau is cleft by deep rocky corries overlooking remote mountain tarns. No roads cross the central Cairngorms and access is usually from either Aviemore - via Glenmore - in the North or from Braemar on Deeside to the South. The 2 sides are linked by a walkers' pass - the Lairig Ghru - which follows a deep narrow defile below Ben Macdui - at 4,300 feet the second highest mountain in the United Kingdom.
Above Glenmore lies the Cairngorm Ski Area and the funicular railway which replaced the old chairlift and is a big visitor attraction in summer as well as transport for skiers in winter. Thankfully the ski area only covers a small part of the range. Glenmore Forest has an excellent network of bike trails and footpaths around Loch Morlich and Rothiemurchus while mountain hiking is the reason many come to the Cairngorms there being plenty of well marked trails crossing the high plateau and visiting the summits.
Owing to the easterly aspect and comparitively high altitude the Cairngorms have a climate similar to that found in the Arctic. the weather in the Cairngorms is drier than that of the West Highlands but being Scotland the weather can be unsettled much of the time. The best time to visit the Highlands is generally May or June. Because of the height of the Cairngorms, temperatures are lower and snow cover is more consistent than in other parts of the UK. At 4,000 feet snow can fall at any time of year.
Glenmore Forest is reached by a regular bus service and road from Aviemore which itself is on the main rail network and the A9 which is mainly dual carriageway. Braemar has regular bus services and road access from the south and the Aberdeen direction. A bus service also links Aviemore and Braemar.
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