Access from the Railway on Cairngorm? Good or Bad ? Comments welcome?

Many like me will be interested in this letter below as it is about the access from the Cairngorm Railway as there are restrictions to the Ptarmigan Restaurant if one comes up on the train to the mountain. There are many reasons argued for and against this and I have always been in favour of access for all. It has been my view that the numbers that will go further afield are not huge but there are those whose views differ. If one has a look at what a mess is made after the winter and by the reconstruction that is ongoing by various vehicles a few more feet will do little.   I find it hard that I have a few pals who have loved the mountains yet through age or illness cannot get on the train and then get up to the summit,maybe some for the last time.

It is a strange arrangement and maybe needs re looked at?  Ray Sefton wrote this piece in the local paper and I would value any views.

Dear Sir,

Cairngorm Closed System

How refreshing to read the views of Mr Peter Argyle (Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) in Park Talk. (Strathy 30th March). He emphasises that access to the countryside and hills is enshrined in legislation and the CNPA is the access authority. Perhaps, in his next instalment Mr Argyle might explain , in detail, to our community and visitors why the closed system at the top of the funicular railway is still in place on Cairn Gorm. The law changed in 2005 and the access authority is required to bring in a bye law to stop access as of that date. The CNPA continues to circumvent the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. I believe the closed system is now the only barrier to access in Scotland. Anybody who believes the closed system protects the Cairngorm Plateaux is dreaming. Those young and fit mountaineers and walkers will access the plateaux, from the car park, across the designated area 100 metres away, in very large numbers. The restrictions only affect the elderly and our very valuable visitors, who are unable, to see the magnificent views from the summit of Cairn Gorm, which is not in a designated area. Coach passengers only have two hours on site and certainly would not have an inclination to reach the summit, neither would families. Not only are access laws being flouted but I suggest that the laws on discrimination are also being ignored. Visitors must wonder at the continuing stupidity taking place on Cairn Gorm. The suits continually project the facility as having the potential to become a world class tourist attraction. So far the shambles on Cairn Gorm has cost the public purse £34million. Remove the closed system and the railway has a chance of moving into profit and become a valuable tourist asset. Finally, I would remind readers that it is not unlawful for the public to exit the Ptarmigan station and Natural Retreats staff have no legal authority to stop anybody leaving the station. That alone makes the closed system suspect.

If nothing is done Cairn Gorm will have the only “funny peculiar” railway in the world. That must be an embarrassment for the CNPA.

Ray Sefton

A few comments from Facebook

Mark Hartree

We have numerous examples of access to summits around the mountain ranges of the world. We call them ‘honeypots’ sometimes and access is made easy for the public to experience (often for the first time) the top of a mountain. They attract and in some ways contain visitors while protecting the summit environment as far a possible. Barriers at the rail head are daft. We should encourage access to the top, maybe advice on the conditions and manage its impact with appropriate paths, aides and signage to assist the visitor. We are talking about access to a small summit area. We are not opening the whole SPA by doing this since the summit is a limited area, neither however, should we prevent people wanting full access. I don’t like big paths, signage or aides, but we do want to showcase this beautiful area, not hide it for the lucky few by the quasi application and interpretation of rules, laws or personal biases.

Andy Barker

Full access to the train-borne masses never did Snowdon any harm… oh wait…

Andy Lawson

No access from railway. Shouldnt have been built in first place.

Andy Mahew

I go to the hills for solitude, to get away from people. But I still get pleasure from seeing those who dont have my abilities or experience – families, youngsters, people from all backgrounds – getting a great sense of achievement from reaching the summit of Pen y Fan or Snowdon.

I am with Mark Hartree on this – let them experience one of our highest summits. Its not as though there arent hundreds more where few ever tred.

But given the altitude and weather issues, I think there should be rangers around to keep an eye on things.

Darren Summerson A sceptic might think they don’t want people enjoying a picnic outside in the fresh air on top of hill when they will take your money off you in their cafe. They could of course turn it into a money spinner and for a nominal fee be guided as a small group up to the summit and back. Leaving perhaps hourly, bit of small talk about the history and environment on the way etc…
Maurice Summerson ·

Mmmmm….pros & cons of course ..🙂 As ever in life. What’s consistent in the UK is the Muddled Management of both a decent decision itself and the ongoing management of PR elements. SNAFU…🙂
Douglas Crawford I wonder how many young hill facists will be condemnational of the idea when their arthritic legs are shot and they just want a couple of hundred yards stroll on a summers day in the environment they used to so easily reach?…….its there for more than “proper” hill users to enjoy…..are armies of people really going to surge all over the summit in bad weather???….really?

Thanks anymore?

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Enviroment, Local area and events to see, Mountaineering and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Access from the Railway on Cairngorm? Good or Bad ? Comments welcome?

  1. Under the terms of the EU grant free access to the mountain plateau is denied to everyone unless skiing/boarding or on a guided tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. benalder284 says:

    Whether it is a good idea or not is surely largely irrelevant – it was on this basis that planning permission was given, without the developers agreeing to it the project would never have been approved and it would set a horrible precedent if a freely entered into agreement/requirement could simply be removed at a later date when it became commercially convenient to do so.

    Nick Kempe’s blog at is a good read for how the current arrangements are failing to ensure Cairn Gorm is properly protected.

    Liked by 1 person

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