Drennan Watson

The Cairngorms are ranked the UK’s foremost area for conservation and associated scientific interest but in addition they are a major part of Scotland’s landscape heritage, a key area for diverse outdoor recreations including hillwalking, climbing and downhill and cross country skiing and an important water catchment area for downstream fisheries and water supplies for large human populations.

Inevitably, this has attracted major scientific studies, many with important international significance, long studies into their recreational development, their landscape and, indeed, other aspects of them. All this garnered information and data is important for the effective management of this mountain range, the education of future generations and the preservation of the Cairngorm’s heritage, history and culture.

Some of this information is accessible in the form of published scientific papers, for example by the late Adam Watson, or even books, but much of it remains scattered in peoples’ filing cabinets and cupboards or quietly mouldering in boxes in garages etc. This situation long troubled Jo Porter, ex Speyside Ranger, ex-member of the Cairngorms Mountain Rescue Team and other involvement with the Cairngorms. His sizeable and growing collection of material was slowly filling his attic. What was to happen to it when he was gone? A chance conversation with Drennan Watson clarified in his mind the aim of an official collection of peoples’ data and other information. It is imperative that this information is preserved and is made accessible for people to use in the future.

Jo pursued his aim determinedly over years and finally, with the backing of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, a group was formed to advance his vision. The Cairngorms Archive Trust (CATS) is now a recognised charity, (Registered Scottish Charity No SCO48307) to ensure that the wealth of information about the Cairngorms that is held by many people all over Scotland and the UK will have a home where it can be protected and preserved for future generations. Its trustees include experienced librarians and others with expertise in the management of such collections. Chairman is Professor Liz Morris OBE with a long career in hydrology and the Antarctic among other topics and the Honorary President is the writer Robert McFarlane author of Mountains of the Mind and Wild Places. Grant Moir, Chief Executive of the National Park Authority, is treasurer. It will be an open access collection for researchers, staff of the Park Authority, school pupils or any others. Go onto its website to see how you can join, finance or otherwise support it!
Congratulations Jo!

If you, as an individual, voluntary organisation, professional or commercial body have such Cairngorms material languishing in drawers, cupboards, garages etc should you now send it to this Trust? Well, not just yet please. The Trust has still to acquire a properly designed building to house such material which must be organised, stored and managed under the right conditions. But please do not throw it away. Let the Trust know of its existence and hold on to it until the Trust can accept it. In emergency, the Park Authority has provided a room that now houses Jo’s sizeable collection, to the relief of his attic floor. Meanwhile, if you know of anyone with such a collection of information on the Cairngorms, do tell them not to discard it and about the Cairngorms Archive Trust!

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