Footsore walkers can now take a train ride down Cairn Gorm after the company that runs its funicular railway relaxed its rules.
Previously, only downhill skiers and those taking a trip to the Ptarmigan restaurant were allowed to use the train. Now, mountaineers who have walked up to the summit will be able to buy a single ticket for the downhill journey.
The Ramblers’ Association in Scotland voiced its concerns that this could lead to an eventual further relaxation allowing the non-mountaineering public easy access to the fragile mountain environment. CairnGorm Mountain Ltd, which runs the railway, says there are no plans to allow visitors to ride up on the train to visit the summit.
The trial scheme to allow walkers to use the railway will run until the end of October, when it will be reviewed. Highland Council and Scottish Natural Heritage agreed to the trial.
CairnGorm Mountain Ltd’s chief executive Bob Kinnaird said: “The possibility of walking up and taking the train down is not diluting in any way our commitment to protecting this precious mountain environment as contained in the Visitor Management Plan, but it does give a degree of choice to use the facilities at the top to those already walking on the mountain.
“We are encouraging walkers to use the existing footpaths and to learn more about the mountain from the interpretive messages that they communicate. They are then absorbed into our all-embracing philosophy that seeks to enhance their knowledge of, and respect for, the mountains and that has to be a very positive experience for everyone.”
Blimey! Next time we pull on our boots for a trip up the mountain, we’d better prepare to be absorbed into that all-embracing philosophy.
Walkers who use the service will be quizzed on their experience, as well as questioned on the route they took up the mountain, so pay attention.