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The size of the Cairngorms National Park has been enlarged by one fifth. The park itself is relatively new, being set up in 2003. Since its establishment there has been an increase in the population, the number of businesses and the economy within the national park area. There has also been a decrease in unemployment. The new, extended boundary means that Highland Perthshire has now been incorporated into the national park.

The Cairngorms National Park now covers about 6 per cent of Scotland. With an area of 4,528 sq km it is twice the size of the Lake District National Park.

John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth and constituency MSP for North Tayside, has continually campaigned for the inclusion of Highland Perthshire in the Park, said:

The decision to exclude the area from the original boundaries is one which baffled experts and local people alike. This set in motion a tremendous effort from politicians and local people. I wanted to ensure that this wrong was righted, therefore I introduced my member’s bill in 2006 and continued to campaign tirelessly for the extension of the Park’s boundaries.

Hiking in the Cairngorms

The landscape and wildlife in the Cairgngorms make the national park truly unique. It is home to 25% of the UK’s threatened bird, animal and plant species as well as boasting a fine collection of different landforms, including the ‘montane zone’, which is the largest area of arctic mountain landscape in the British isles. It is no wonder then that there are many great opportunities for hiking, camping, climbing and bird watching.

Some of the best hiking routes in the Cairngorms can be found on the excellent walkinghighlands.co.uk website. The main towns in the region are Aviemore and Braemar. The northern part of the park is mountainous and contains the Cairn Gorm massive. To the south flows the River Dee, with the peak of Lochnagar still further south. On the Eastern side of the park is Glenlivet, where there are rolling hills. In the west is the Spey valley, which is excellent for low level walking. Long distance walks which go through the Cairngorm National Park include the Dava way and the Speyside way.

To get a quick overview of the landscape and activities available, why not have a look at this YouTube video:

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