Cairngorm Park visitors hailed as long walkers and hikers

Walking and hiking is a major attraction of the Cairngorms National Park, a massive survey has found. Picture: Contributed
Walking and hiking is a major attraction of the Cairngorms National Park, a massive survey has found. Picture: Contributed
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A LONG walk, hike or ramble through the stunning Cairngorms National Park is amongst the top activities undertaken by visitors to the region, according to VisitScotland’s biggest ever Visitor Survey.

Carried out in the summers of 2015 and 2016, the national tourism organisation’s poll saw 613 visitors to the Cairngorms National Park interviewed, with 112 visitors answering specific questions about their visit to the area in a follow-up survey online.

View of the Cairngorm mountains from Lynbreck near Granton-on-Spay. Picture Ian Rutherford/TSPL

View of the Cairngorm mountains from Lynbreck near Granton-on-Spay. Picture Ian Rutherford/TSPL

A long walk, hike or ramble in the Park was the reason 51% of people visited – far above the national average of just 38%.

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Twice the size of the Lake District, the Cairngorms National Park offers its visitors mountains, forest paths, rivers, lochs, wildlife hotspots, friendly villages and distilleries. Five of the UK’s six highest mountains lie inside the park, and there are 55 Munros - mountains over 3,000 ft. On top of this, there are huge forests of ancient native trees and cascading waterfalls.

Almost three-quarters - 71% - of the respondents cited scenery and landscape as the main draw to the region, followed by the range of activities available - 50% - and those who had holidayed there before and wanted to return - 49%.

Part of the scenic Cairngorms National Park. Picture: NTS/Contributed

Part of the scenic Cairngorms National Park. Picture: NTS/Contributed

Visitors to the Cairngorms National Park gave positive ratings of their holiday experience, with 97% giving scores of 7-10 on the satisfaction scale, and just under two-thirds - 66% - gave the highest ratings of nine or ten out of ten.

Holidaymakers also expressed a high likelihood to recommend the region to friends or family, with 94% scoring it between 7-10 and 71 per cent selecting nine or ten out of ten.

Sightseeing by car, coach or on foot was the most popular activity. With three-quarters of respondents citing this as a reason to visit the region, sightseeing in the Cairngorms National Park is above the national average of 74 per cent. In second spot is a short walk or stroll - 57%, 3% above the national average - while visiting a woodland/forest area is enjoyed by 55%.

Jo Robinson, Regional Director for VisitScotland, said: “With nearly 12,000 visitors all over the country interviewed, this is the biggest Scotland Visitor Survey we have ever produced.

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“I am delighted, but not surprised, to see that so many people rate their trips to the Cairngorms National Park so highly. Finding out what drives people to enjoy a holiday in the region provides the tourism industry with valuable insight into the makeup of our visitors and helps them to ensure we continue to provide the best customer experience.”

Mark Tate, Chief Executive of the Cairngorms Business Partnership, said: “The Cairngorms National Park is a really special place and a big part of Scotland’s appeal as a destination. 

“It is no surprise that our stunning scenery and landscape scores top in why people come, along with the fantastic range of activities available that scored second.

“The survey highlights that 75% enjoy our scenery by car/coach or on foot and we are currently developing a scenic route through the National Park, from Blairgowrie to Grantown on Spey via the highest ‘A-road’ in Britain and the wonderful communties of Braemar, Ballater and Tomintoul.

“The ‘Snow Road’ is already a stunning scenic route and we will be developing a digitally immersive experience so visitors can slow down and really enjoy our landscape, culture and history.”