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First guided hikes down on UK's sixth highest mountain

Until very recently it was impossible to walk down from the top station at CairnGorm Mountain , near Aviemore in Scotland’s Highlands. You could walk up and then walk down, or catch the funicular railway up, go for a hike at the top on the guided Walk @ the Top or ski down when there is snow but you couldn’t get the train up and walk down. This was because the mountain centre was keen to preserve the natural environment of the mountain and didn’t want thousands of day trippers taking the train up for a walk down. You had to earn your walk!

This summer, however, there are new guided walks that offer the chance to take the funicular to the Ptarmigan Top Station and then join a guided walk to descend.

The operators expect this new walk to be popular with groups and individuals who are keen to get out at the top but feel they could not manage the. Now, after going up on the funicular to just below the summit of Britain’s sixth highest mountain, walkers can enjoy taking in the view as they walk back down the hill while having the distant hills, the flowers, plants, birds and wildlife, geology and history of the area identified for them by a guide.

The first group to experience this walk was the Maciver family on holiday from Banbury, near Oxford, along with their dog Dan. Donald and Jean, with their children Alasdair and Ewan, and Donald's brother and sister Allan and Maggie travelled up the mountain on the funicular then exited the Top Station with their guide Sheena Wilson to make a descent of the mountain on the Windy Ridge path.

Donald said: “We had been considering walking up but I was not sure we would all manage that. Then I discovered we could go up on the train and come down on guided walk and that seemed ideal for us. The boys have really enjoyed being with the guide and say they want to be wildlife rangers when they grow up.”

Colin Kirkwood, CairnGorm Mountain Marketing Manager, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this new guided walk, which along with the already popular Walk @ the Top, is a great way for visitors to experience the mountain at first hand and to benefit from being in the company of a knowledgeable guide.”

See CairnGorm Mountain for more info, and thanks to CairnGorm for the header image also.