Open throughout the year, no matter what the weather, the entire Cairngorms National Park is a haven for family holidays, dedicated snowsports enthusiasts, wildlife watchers, mountain bikers, friends, couples and those that just want a little bit of R&R.
With many activities and attractions being open year round, What’s on went in search of the lucky people that live and work here come rain or shine and asked them a few questions about their winter and summer jobs. No matter where you are in the Park you will meet creative and active folk that live and work here thanks to the inspiring landscape, majestic wildlife and wonderful array of life. So, be sure to quiz them as you may find their summer and winter lives differ greatly from one another!
We spoke to Ruari at Cairngorm Mountain, Ellie at Rothiemurchus and Debbie at Atholl Estates to find out about their year round lifestyle in the UK’s largest National Park.
What’s your summer job and your winter job?
Ruari – In the Summer, I am a Cairngorm Mountain Ranger and in the winter I work in Ski patrol.
Ellie – In the summer I manage the Loch An Eilein Gallery and in the winter I produce paintings, make jewellery, help my partner with his private dining business and last year I worked in the Druie Restaurant.
Debbie – I’m a senior pony ghillie throughout the year, but my job differs massively depending on the season – with visitor pony trekking in the summer and stalking in the winter.
What is your favourite part of your Summer Job?
R – Working on a mountainous area doing what I enjoy doing – never two days are the same!
E – working with so many talented local artists – it’s great seeing their work being exhibited, customers appreciating the hard work & unique pieces that are being produced, and working in a beautiful area – Loch an Eilein is stunning. The Rothiemurchus estate has made it possible for the Creative Cairngorms to have a semi-permanent exhibition in the Gallery and we are grateful to have this opportunity.
D – Working with the ponies all year round and their individual personalities and seeing our visitors enjoy and explore the estate on horseback.
What is the favourite part of your winter job?
R – Being up on the mountain first thing (between 6 & 7 am usually!) on a cold frosty clear morning after a heavy snowfall and the team are the only ones on the hill , seeing the sun come up & getting the first ski runs of the day.
E – I like the variety of working in different areas and getting artwork ready for the summer. I usually take a bit of break in the winter so I am ready for a busy summer ahead. It’s nice to have the space & time to paint. Being in the Park usually means you have to be quite resourceful and find new ways to adapt, which keeps things interesting.
D – Working with the stalkers and seeing how the Highland ponies adapt to their winter role of assisting with the deer management. It’s completely different manual work for them, but they are bred for it and seem to enjoy the change.
What time of year do you enjoy most in the Cairngorms National Park?
R- 12 months of the year, the place never looks the same from one day to the next.
E – The spring is lovely when all the buds are emerging & all the wee birdies are signing. I love the autumn time with all the rich colours especially the reflections in the loch, which are a joy to paint. The park is always beautiful though no matter the weather which continually feeds my inspiration.
D – I used to work at Balmoral Estate in Royal Deeside and now at Atholl Estates in Highland Perthshire. I love how the Park has so many faces yet we come together to be one amazing place.
What’s the best thing about your job?
R – The people, the view, the peace, the silence, the excitement, the weather, the enjoyment, keeping active, the variety of activities and jobs I do within the jobs I do.
E – The whole year is constantly changing with the seasons and whether its winter or summer I like to be involved with something Art based so both summer & winter allows me to do this. Its great being able to do what I enjoy within my job, its always lovely setting the Gallery back up after the winter and seeing all the beautiful pieces of art displayed.
What’s the best thing about changing your jobs depending on the season?
R – Different challenges, different activities, different fun !
E- It’s great being able to do different things and explore new areas & ideas.
D – It’s so interesting seeing how these horses adapt and work in very differing situations. Their stamina and personalities never fail to amaze me.
Tell us something more!
R – Coming up the hill from Aviemore has to be one of the best commutes in the UK, the only real tailbacks occur when the Glenmore ducks wont get off the road at Loch Morlich!
E – The walk around the Loch is spectacular, the loch is surrounded by ancient Scots pines, amongst the forest live red squirrels, deer & crested tit. Looking across the water you will see the old castle dating around 600-700 years old.
Living and working here in the Cairngorms National Park is clearly much appreciated by Ruari, Ellie and Debbie and gives a glimpse of the wide range of all year round activities and interest that the UK’s biggest national park holds for locals and visitors alike. Visit Cairngorms and ‘Make it Yours’.
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