Bucket list experience:
Cairngorm Reindeer Herd
Aviemore, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)|www.cairngormreindeer.co.uk
Tramp up a mountain slope to see Britain’s only herd of free-ranging reindeer, re-introduced by a Swedish herder in 1952, roaming the Cairngorm National Park. It might sound family-focused, but it’s so unspoilt and charming – the reindeers’ velvety noses nuzzling you – that even the most hardened cynic will melt.
Guided hill tours last about 2 hours – it’s a 30-minute to get to the herd. For those who don’t fancy schlepping up a mountainside, there are a number of reindeer kept year-round in a paddock at the centre.
Getting there & doing it
The Reindeer Centre is around six miles from the ski resort and year-round outdoor activity hub, Aviemore, just off the A9 in the Cairngorm National Park. You meet the guide at the centre then drive along the road to a car park where the trek begins.
It’s recommended to book the hill tours online (tickets available 30 days in advance) to guarantee a place. The ground can be muddy, especially outside of summer, so take walking boots or wellies. Tours run in all weather conditions – so take appropriate, warm clothing. Arrive at least 20 minutes before the start.
When to do it
There are daily guided hill visits from March to December. The centre is closed from the end of the Christmas holidays until the February half-term. The paddocks and exhibition centre are open daily.
Summer (June-August) is best – there are extra treks then and the weather is best. In the winter the reindeer can be harder to locate – they do roam free. Then there’s the unpredictable Scottish weather to consider…