Access from the Cairngorm Mountain Railway – Any Views?

As a lover of wild places I am very interested in the views of others of the restricted access from the  Ptarmigan station for the public in the Cairngorms. Over the years I have been very privileged to  have used the railways access for Rescues and I also admit I used to use the chairlift for access to the plateau. I can see both sides of the argument and the safety and wild life and other issues that may occur and of course the effect to the Rescue Teams. There is  also the fact that this gives access to a sensitive area well documented and loved by many. Many mountaineers and lovers of the wild can be very elitist and want this solace for them and only for those who are fit enough to walk all the way up. Is this right ? This is great ideology  and I would love there to be no more desecration than there is of the mountains and wild places, no more new roads etc. The Cairngorm Ski Centre has been there for years and in summer is not a beautiful place to me but to others it is. The damage to the area was done many years ago but so many get enjoyment out of this area and many take their first adventure in a wild environment. It has being tidied up and walks to and from the area are attracting more walkers and mountain bikers. Too me it is great to see people getting enjoyment summer and winter and so many local jobs rely on it. It is now part of the history of the Cairngorms.

I took and old friend up in the train to the Ptarmigan in summer – he was dying of cancer and had loved the mountains over along life. He just wanted a wander around and away from the cafe and people, we were not allowed because of the restricted access. Of course I could have pushed it but it was not the time or the place to do it.  I know there are now guided walks and you are even allowed restricted  use a mountain bike on the railway and enjoy the journey down the track. To me as a lover of the Cairngorms this is a step in the right direction. There are many pros and cons I wonder what your views are? See below a letter in the Press & Journal in support of the freedom of access by a friend who lives and works in the area.  Is he right or wrong?

The Cairngorm Plateau - still very wintry even in late May. Please be aware - should we allow access from the railway to this incredible place? Your views?

The Cairngorm Plateau – still very wintry even in late May. Please be aware it is still winter just now – should we allow access from the railway to this incredible place? Your views?

                                                         

    Cairngorm Mountain Railway

Reference the article “Green light for summit walks”. (P&J 16th May).   I am quite sure that  coach tourists and others with insufficient time will be delighted that guided walks to the summit of Cairngorm can continue, while they remain locked up in a £26 million  prison paid for by the taxpayer.

It was refreshing to see the comments of Councillor Bill Lobban emphasising how ludicrous the restrictions are.   What is interesting is that all the decision makers are paid for by the taxpayer so there is no incentive to remove the summer restrictions.  Some MSPs have also commented before, such as John Swinney MSP and Fergus Ewing MSP has said that the “closed system” runs contrary to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (the Act),  but even they don’t seem powerful enough to have the restrictions removed.

The land surrounding the

                                                              Cairngorm Mountain Railway

Reference the article “Green light for summit walks”. (P&J 16th May).   I am quite sure that  coach tourists and others with insufficient time will be delighted that guided walks to the summit of Cairngorm can continue, while they remain locked up in a £26 million  prison paid for by the taxpayer.

It was refreshing to see the comments of Councillor Bill Lobban emphasising how ludicrous the restrictions are.   What is interesting is that all the decision makers are paid for by the taxpayer so there is no incentive to remove the summer restrictions.  Some MSPs have also commented before, such as John Swinney MSP and Fergus Ewing MSP has said that the “closed system” runs contrary to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (the Act),  but even they don’t seem powerful enough to have the restrictions removed.

The land surrounding the Ptarmigan station is land that has a statutory right of responsible access under the Act.  Whilst passengers do not have a right of access to the funicular railway I believe they have a right to leave the station at the top, under the Act.  However, notices and barriers deter people from leaving, which is against the spirit of the Act.

It is not unlawful to leave the Ptarmigan station.  The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), as the access authority, should be insisting that these restrictions are removed.  However, they are hiding behind some weak legal advice that has not been challenged.

To emphasise how ludicrous the restrictions that are in place to protect the Cairngorm Plateau under EU Law, the Cairngorm Plateau actually has the same EU designations as the Tain bombing range.

In conclusion, whilst these restrictions remain in place this potentially excellent tourist attraction will remain mediocre and a rip off to some people in summer.

is land that has a statutory right of responsible access under the Act.  Whilst passengers do not have a right of access to the funicular railway I believe they have a right to leave the station at the top, under the Act.  However, notices and barriers deter people from leaving, which is against the spirit of the Act.

It is not unlawful to leave the Ptarmigan station.  The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), as the access authority, should be insisting that these restrictions are removed.  However, they are hiding behind some weak legal advice that has not been challenged.

To emphasise how ludicrous the restrictions that are in place to protect the Cairngorm Plateau under EU Law, the Cairngorm Plateau actually has the same EU designations as the Tain bombing range.

In conclusion, whilst these restrictions remain in place this potentially excellent tourist attraction will remain mediocre and a rip off to some people in summer.

 

Any thoughts ?

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Enviroment, Friends, mountain safety, Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Access from the Cairngorm Mountain Railway – Any Views?

  1. mark says:

    It is not an easy one, I have always been one of those purists who would feel I have cheated taking the railway or in the past the chairlift to access the plateaux either in summer or in winter on skis. Your story of a friend with cancer is powerful though. It does seem ludicrous to me that folk are trapped in the top building when the mountain from that point down is already scared and allowing people to walk around at the top (maybe without access to the summit) and walk down if they take the train up does not, to me, seem to be too much to ask. The biking is a step in the right direction but again it is so restricted, folk cannot even take their own bike up.

    As a season ticket holder and frequent skier in the winter I love the facilities (I may not have voted to put them there but now they are….) and if they are to be protected and invested in then I think a more commercial view needs to be taken and I for one would allow more access, though would continue to restrict access to the summit and the plateaux.

    Like the blogs – keep them up.

    Like

    • heavywhalley says:

      Interesting comments- this place very hard to Police the summit area but all for more access for mountain bikers and others to enjoy not just the winter skiers.

      I thought we may have had a few comments?

      Like

      • Sunshine says:

        Why is a closed system needed at the Ptarmigan to prevent people visiting the EU designated area which entails a round trip of about 3 kilometres and about 250 metres of ascent, when the public can enter the same designated area within 100 metres at the car park ? The land surrounding the railway is land that has a statutory right of access. The summit is not in a designated area.

        Like

      • heavywhalley says:

        Good point Ray?

        Like

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