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Saturday, 21 November 2015

September Cairngorms (14)

I then descended to the Ptarmigan restaurant. The path between the summit cairn and the Ptarmigan is well laid, with steps the whole way, and rope guides either side. Those who come to the Ptarmigan on the furnicular railway rather than by their own efforts are not allowed out onto the plateau, although there are occasional guided walks to allow them to climb this last little bit to the summit.


I know this was done to meet the fears of the conservationists in order to get permission to build and operate the furnicular at all; but it does strike me as rather silly, to be quite frank. The vision of hoards of un-environmentally aware yahoos arriving by furnicular and running amok on the fragile Cairngorm plateau never struck me as particularly plausible. Few who come by train would want to do more than walk up to the summit cairn and back in any event; and fewer still would both want to and have the physical ability to do so. Those that did - well, they would probably be fit enough to get up here without using the railway in any event.

Do any of those that climb up here now run amok and ruin the fragile ecology of the Cairngorm plateau? Not that I can see. And compare it with Yr Wyddfa (that's Snowdon to the vast majority of English speakers). You can catch the train to the summit of Snowdon, and there is nothing to confine you to the restaurant when you get there. All the yahoos in the world are welcome to take the train to the top of Snowdon and run amok all they like. And how many of them actually do? Well ... um ... none, actually. Most of them are content to sit in the restaurant, have something to eat and drink, and look at the views (if they can see them at all). Those that venture outside mostly just go to the summit cairn and back. And all of them treat the mountain with respect.

So as I say, I really do think all of this "Oh, you're not allowed out of the Ptarmigan if you arrived by train" is all more than a little bit ridiculous.

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