Along with other such resorts, Cairngorm Mountain is always on the lookout to extend its summer activities; after all it has rather a large notional debt to service!
Walk @ The Top, guided summer walks from the top station around part of the plateau, is now a permanent feature. NEMT's concern about this initiative has not so much been the walks themselves, they are well controlled and do not enter the protected sites, but rather that the company would see permission for these as a green light to push harder against the restrictions from exiting the top station in summer. We were right! The company put forward a proposal to allow people to exit the top station and walk, unguided, to the Ptarmigan Bowl. Thankfully SNH turned this down.
Plans are afoot to extend the viewing terrace at the top station. More controversially, the company is considering the idea of building a short circular fenced walkway out from the top station. Details of this are currently sketchy but it will be interesting to see what 'short' and 'fenced' mean.
This new initiative, which has been given temporary approval and is subject to monitoring, involves providing guided rides from the top station down through the ski area to just outside Aviemore. Bikes and other equipment are provided. Shorter versions are also advertised. NEMT's misgivings about this are, again, not about the activity itself but rather that it gives the impression to all and sundry that cycling high in the Cairngorms is acceptable. Mountain biking is fun and most climbers and hill walkers have succumbed, from time to time, to the temptation to shorten a long day by peddling a vehicle track into the hills. However, when used on walking paths and off these on open vegetation, bikes can cause excessive damage. In addition, riders often seem to assume walkers should make way for them on paths. One NEMT member saw bike tracks earlier this year near the summit of MacDhui. People have been cycling on Carn Ban Mor east of Feshie. One group was even seen making a challenging descent into Glen Einich down steep ground and snow! These are places where bikes simply shouldn't be. With the access legislation placing no restriction on the use of bikes, this is an issue of growing concern.
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