‘The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go...’

Gwenda Diack

Gwenda Diack

Cairngorms Wild Plants Project Officer

29th October 2018


© Anne Elliott

The Cairngorms mountain plateau is the largest stronghold in Scotland for arctic alpine habitats. It boasts some fascinating flora, one of the reasons why Plantlife identified the Cairngorms as an Important Plant Area (IPA). The mountains of the Cairngorms are also heavily visited.

The most recent visitor survey, conducted by the Cairngorms National Park, include some fascinating facts. It is estimated that over 1.4 million people visit the Cairngorms every year with more than half of the visitors being from Scotland, a quarter from England and quarter from the rest of the world. Two thirds of people surveyed were repeat visitors. The majority of visitors are here for a short break or holiday with low level walking and hill walking being one of the top three reasons given for their visit. People return time and again. Now Plantlife wants to help people to take a fresh look at this well loved environment and gain a greater awareness and appreciation of how special these places are for wild plants.


Dwarf Cornell © Anne Elliott

The Cairngorms is a key destination for people looking to brush up on mountain skills and experience more challenging adventures in the mountains within the supportive environment of a group. They are also training grounds for mountain guides and outdoor education instructors. Through the Cairngorms Wild Plants project, Plantlife has produced resources - such as the new Cairngorms Wild Plants Keys to the Mountains - and is providing training for group leaders to develop their knowledge of the Cairngorms mountain flora which they can use with their groups. .

Each Key explores a different aspect of the mountains and includes an idea and short activity, with a discussion section to take things further. They are prompts to stimulate thought and discussion and are made to be easy to take out and about and use at short stops or lunch breaks or as part of a longer session.

Through our training and resources, we aim to add value to mountain leadership skill courses run by providers such as Glenmore and to reach mountain guides, rangers and outdoor activity providers who use the Cairngorms regularly with their groups.

Another set of Keys to Caledonian pinewoods have also been produced for group leaders as part of this project. Get in touch if you lead groups in the Cairngorms and would like to get hold of a hard copy of these resources.

Find out more:

Cairngorms_Pinus_sylvestris_treeline 1 (c) Peter Mulligan under Creative Commons.jpg

Cairngorms Wild Plants project

Building on the work of the Cairngorms Rare Plants Project, our new Cairngorms Wild Plants Project - covering both arctic-alpine flora and Caledonian pinewood – aims to secure the future of these habitats.

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