Sun, snow, hail and wind – we had them all today but none for very long. The sun was shining when we set out for Aviemore and the Cairngorms and the temperature slowly rose ….5 deg, 6 deg, 7 deg then we went up the hill and the temperature went down again. We went to Coire Na Ciste where the chairlift used to start but the building looked very neglected and the chairs seemed to be in poor condition so we think the lift no longer operates at all.
The whole area is far more tightly controlled than it was in the 1970s, you get a pass to walk up the hill now or, instead of chilling out on a chairlift, you can ride to the top in an enclosed car of the Furnicular Railway. For those without the special walkers pass there is no access to the slopes only to an open viewing area. There are detailed, informative displays, shops, cafe, bar and restaurant. There used to be a lodge where skiers could be comfortable while eating their own supplies but that seems to have been converted into a Souvenir shop and Ski Hire. There is a lodge for disabled skiers which wasn’t there in the 70s.
The area looked wonderful with snow dusted in some areas and deep in others. Mikel Utsi and his wife Dr. Ethel Lindgren introduced reindeer into the Cairngorms in 1952 and we’ve seen some of them before. I hoped we’d see some today but there was no sign of any so we decided to stop at the Reindeer Centre on the way back to Aviemore. The Centre would be a great place for kids to visit with “Elf Cabins” and a post box for letters to Father Christmas etc.
Before heading back to Inverness we went to check out the Ospreys at Boat of Graten but first we had to warm up with some hot soup at “The Winking Owl” an old haunt in the long ago. Tomato and Chilli with crusty bread, perfect!