CNF for blogThis is a perfect time of year to really enjoy and appreciate the great outdoors. And what better location to do just that than the Cairngorms National Park?

Over the weekend of 16th & 17th May the Cairngorms Nature Festival will be running a host of events for residents and visitors to the Park. The Festival’s aspiration is to encourage all of us to explore, celebrate and engage with nature and to raise awareness of the Park’s outstanding natural surroundings and wildlife.

Organised by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, the Festival offers lots of activities and events aimed at families, nature and wildlife lovers. The programme is centred on four locations; Aviemore, Ballater, Blair Atholl and Tomintoul so there will be events happening close by, wherever you are in the Park. All you need to know can be found at http://cairngorms.co.uk/ or, if you are reading this article online, have a look at the map to help you plan your day!

Here is a taste of what you can look forward to

‘Become a Citizen Scientist’ at Blair Atholl, contribute to the Woolly Woods or find out more about our ‘Special Upland Birds’. In Tomintoul get up to speed on your Bird ID Techniques, take part in some Survival Skills training or make Bird Boxes and Insect Homes. Muir of Dinnet will be the place to see some Winged Wonders of the Night or to take a look at Scotland’s Natural Larder while in Ballater try some Fly Fishing or hear about the Secret Life of Mammals. In the Aviemore area, head over to Abernethy Reserve to help plant some Aspen, or take a walk up Craigellachie to search for the Dazzling Damselflies. If listening is more your thing then head to Muckrach Lodge or the Grant Arms Hotel for talks from various experts.

Come and meet Nick Baker when he joins nature lovers to ‘Bio-Blitz’ Milton Loch at Boat of Garten. The family event on Saturday 16 May is being run by Cairngorm Wildlife as part of the Cairngorms Nature Festival and it is totally free of charge!

Take part in a range of activities including pond dipping and a mini-beast hunt, before gathering at the Community Hall for a bacon sandwich and a cuppa to record the morning’s finds!

Later in the evening Nick will be talking about his life, experiences and passions at the Boat of Garten Community Hall.

The evening event will be a chance to hear about Nick’s amazing life as a wildlife presenter and find out more about his passion for nature.  Tickets are priced at £5 an adult (under 16’s free)  and can be booked at www.nickbakercnfestival.eventbrite.co.uk

Come along to the Festival and help celebrate Cairngorms Nature!

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A highlight for many in the Park over the summer months is a stop off at the RSPB Osprey Centre at Loch Garten. Ospreys have been returning to the site there since 1959 and each year the birds delight visitors who can view them protecting their eggs and rearing their chicks. If visiting, you may even be lucky enough to spot ospreys fishing the nearby loch. http://www.rspb.org.uk/

The Cairngorms National Park is not just for summer! It is a year round destination for Nature lovers. If you are unable to attend the Nature Festival this month then why not come back and explore the wide open spaces and nature of the Park later in the year? Make the most of your time perhaps by joining an event organised by the Park’s twelve Ranger Services? Rangers promote the enjoyment, understanding and care of the National Park and many Ranger Services run free or subsidised events. Details can be found at http://cairngorms.co.uk/

And of course, the area is fortunate to have a wealth of independent guides and activity providers who make it their job to enhance your experience. These experts will help you discover the best of what the area has to offer. That could mean a day’s climbing or walking with a qualified mountain guide, learning to sail or abseil with an experienced instructor, or an evening’s bird and wildlife watching or photography with an expert. And, should you prefer to explore by vehicle, you can choose from boat trip tours to Landrover and quad bike safaris. See http://visitcairngorms.com/ for details of individually tailored and organised group tours and activities.

Home to 25% of Britain’s threatened species, the National Park really is a hotspot for British wildlife. The ancient woods are home to wildcats, capercaillie, squirrels, pine martens and a host of wild birds while the mountains, fields and moorlands support deer, badgers and golden eagles (to name but a few). And of course there’s flora and fauna, an ecosystem of insects plus mammals of all shapes, sizes and habitats. Simply taking a leisurely cycle or a stroll in the ancient forests can reveal a magical and often hidden world. And if it is solitude you seek then the Park really delivers. In addition to areas of stunning wild land, the Park has some 666 miles (1073km) of core paths!

So whether you live here or are a visitor to the area, we hope you will relish our environment and be inspired by the nature of the Cairngorms!

 

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