Saturday, 28 June 2014

SCOTLAND 10 - Srathspey & Cairngorm Mountains





 The River Spey rises in the Monadhliath Mountains to the east of Loch Ness and flows through a lovely valley alongside the Cairngorm Mountains and north eastwards into the sea on the Moray Coast. 


The Cairngorms are composed mainly of granite and in some places quartz crystals, known as 'Cairngorms' are found.
The range form an extensive group of lofty flat topped mountains stretching from Speyside to Deeside to the north-east of the main Grampian range. The area was designated as a National Park in 2003 and is extremely popular with both walkers and skiers. The Park covers an area of some 1,748 square miles and is the largest national park in the British Isles,

A two kilometre funicular railway ascends the northern slope of Cairn Gorm near Aviemore and is the highest railway in the UK.


The highest telephone box in the UK is near the base station.

The small town of Aviemore is a tourist resort close to the A9 road catering for visitors the National Park. Whilst it is on the Highland Main Railway Line the nicely preserved station is also the southern terminus of the Strathspey Steam Railway which operates for 10 miles from Aviemore to Broomhill.


Kingussie, a small town some 12 miles south of Aviemore also has a fine
railway station.

The railway opened in 1863 as part of the Inverness and Perth Junction Railway, later the Highland Railway. In the summers before WW2 the station was busy just before the Glorious 12th when the shooting parties would arrive. Many trains were specially commissioned for them and some of them had up to 36 carriages which is why these long platforms were so useful.
The record is said to be 46 trains arriving between 4pm and 11pm.
Most of the carriages had no toilet and the station was often used as a comfort break where there were no less than 44 urinals,

Just one mile south of Kingussie, the ruins of Ruthven Barracks stand proudly on a hill on the opposite side of the Spey. The site was originally a 13th century castle later occupied by the infamous Wolf of Badenoch.
The barracks were built by Hanoverian troops in 1719 as a defence for the area after the Jacobean uprising of 1715.  A small garrison of men successfully defended the barracks against a Jacobite army in the early days of the 1745 rebellion but fell to the Jacobites in 1746.
The site is freely open to the public.





Fans of the TV programme Monarch of the Glen will recognise this area as being where location filming took place, especially around Laggan and the early reaches of the River Spey.

This is a good location to see a real monarch of the glen.

You may even catch a glimpse of one of the mountain goats
which frequent this area.

If you are really lucky you may see a golden eagle

If you are not fortunate enough to see any wildlife in the real, you can always see some at the Highland Wildlife Park which is situated between Kingussie and Aviemore, where a variety of animals are kept in a controlled natural environment.

You can get up close to the illusive wild cat which still exists in the Scottish forests, although their numbers have now dwindled to an estimated 100.

Or an even bigger cat which you certainly will not see in the wild in these parts.

One of the most popular enclosures in this park is the monkey area. Here you can see a troop of Japanese snow monkeys.

This species are said to be the origin of the 'Three Wise Monkeys'. Shinto priests at Kyoto have thought of these monkeys as messengers to the gods
for some 1500 years.
The Japanese character for monkey is pronounced as 'saru' ('zaru; means not). A play on words led to the monkey being used with phrases :
Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru = 
see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.


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