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The Cairngorms, a Mountain Wilderness Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC

The Cairngorms Mountains are a gigantic open space range of mountains. There are so many uses and attractions for visiting tourists. There is a purpose built town called Aviemore. It was built in 1966 and today has over 2000 inhabitants.

Aviemore is on about the lowest land in the Cairngorms, alongside runs a river that has many tributaries and runs a course with many meanders and changes.

There is lots of water in the Cairngorms, possibly left over from the glaciers that once occupied the mountains, thousands and thousands of years ago. There are 5 very noticeable lochs to be seen in this area of the Cairngorms, along with many other smaller lakes and lochs. The biggest loch is Loch Morlich, which is about 1 sq. kilometre. The loch goes down 10m deep, this is not the deepest, that title goes to Loch Emich which goes down a massive 40m.

Loch Morlich is situated in a large woodland called Queen’s forest; this is only half of the massive woodland near Aviemore the other half is called Rothiemurchus.

The Cairngorms is famous for its mountains as it has many peaks over 1000m. The mountains have some of the steepest slopes in Britain. In some places the ground level raises over 500m in under a kilometre of land. There are many cliffs because of this; these make brilliant viewpoints.

People and tourists try to make the best use of the Cairngorms they can. It is used so much to its full potential that people are actually damaging it.

In Aviemore, there are many attractions. There is a cinema and theatre, these both play new and old films and plays. There is an up to date ice rink and artificial ski slope. There are lots of natural trails that people can take leisurely walks along. There is also a swimming pool and sauna alongside a golf course.

Loch Morlich is also used to its full capacity. Many water sports take place here, these include, jet skiing, canoeing, and water skiing. There is also a sandbank which people use and call a ‘beach’. This gets very busy in the summer months.

When you go further in to the mountains, and on to the moors, there are even more things to do. A big attraction is grouse shooting. Land owners breed grouse and some tourists pay up to 5,000 for a week of shooting. Also on the moors are lots of forest walks, which have lots of wildlife scenes on the way. A major attraction in the Cairngorms is the Reindeers. They are the only reindeer in Britain and attract many tourists on their own. The moors and mountains also provide hikers, walkers and climbers with ideal conditions for there enjoyment. There are miles of slopes and hills for them to explore.

The biggest attraction in the Cairngorms is the skiing facilities, which are the best in Britain. There are around 17 slopes that are maintained by workers. Around 50,000 to 60,000 skiers use the slopes every year. It is predicted that this number will soon rise to 200,000 when the funicular railway is completed and replaces the older chairlift system.

Question 5- Study the diagram sheet. It shows how the landscape has changed in mountain areas like the Cairngorms. Explain how these changes have happened and how different features have developed over the years. Include maps, diagrams and sketches to help illustrate your work.

There have been some very big changes in these mountains that are very noticeable. There is one main factor in these changes, that is the glaciers.

We start at the top of the mountain area. At its peak is headwater which comes from the colder climate in the peaks. As this water moves down the mountain it has slowly eroded away some v-shape valleys. These small v-shaped valleys meet and form a meandering stream, with many interlocking spurs. Between the smaller streams coming off the headwater are rounded divides, these divides are largely covered by vegetation and are soil covered. Along the main stream is a rather large flood plain, this is all before the massive glaciers arrive.

After many years, there will be a rise in the amount of snow and ice left on the mountain from the previous winter. Every year it will keep building up, it will continue to do this until it reaches a point where it starts to melt more.

The glacier in diagram (b) will form very slowly, possibly over hundreds of thousands of years. It will form like a river with a series of inputs, sores, flows, and outputs. The inputs are from precipitation in the form of snow. Inputs largely at the head of the mountains. This is called the zone of accumulation. During falls of snow, air is trapped between the flakes of snow; air is trapped between the flakes of snow. As more snow falls the underlying areas become compressed in to ice, without any air the ice turns blue. The actual glacier itself is water held in storage and as ice, flows (transfers) down hill under the force of gravity.

Meltwater is the main output, with a small amount of evaporation. The glacier melting is called ablation. If over a period of time the annual rate of accumulation exceeds ablation, then the glacier will advance. If ablation exceeds accumulation, the glacier will retreat.

In diagram (b) the glacier itself, is at its peak. All of the land

has been filled with large sheets of ice. When the glacier is at

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its peak the area that was formally covered with vegetation and was soil covered, is now bare rock. This is largely due to the frost shatter, which occurred higher up in the mountains. The rocks have been deposited here, and settled.

After many thousands of year’s later, maybe 100,000 the scene has totally changed. The giant glaciers have disappeared and left behind a whole new look. The first noticeable change is there are now sharp pyridamal peaks. Formally they were rounded summits but the glacier has worn it down and left a sharp edge. The old glacier corrie is now very deep and this is due to plucking. This happens because large bits of rock are frozen and are carried away with the ice downhill, under the force of gravity.

Where there were small v-shape valleys before the glaciers now lies v-shape-hanging valleys. They are hanging valleys because the glacier inside them was smaller that that which was in the main valley glacier.

There is still a small patch of snow, which comes down, and another hanging valley beside it is an arete which lies between another v-shape valley, the snow in its zone of ablation turns in to a waterfall which leads in to the main valley.

The main valley itself is now much wider and has very steep sides. The valley is flat floored because the glacier plucked any rocks out which stuck out, and there is now a rock basin lake.

The ice has filled all of the smaller v-shape valleys. The ice has filled all of the smaller v-shape valleys. It has formed a valley glacier, and where there was formally headwater now lies a corrie glacier. These changes have happened because the headwater is the highest point on the mountain therefore being the coldest and having the most snowfall for longer periods of time. Because it has been happening longer there has been more time for it to erode down and form the corrie glacier, the ice that was in the corrie has moved down hill, under the force of gravity, and plucked any rocks or materials from inside the corrie.

Frost shatter has occurred around the corrie. This has happened because it is a very cold climate and there must have been many cracks in the rocks. The water enters the cracks during the warmer day and freezes at night. The water expands when it changes to ice and excerts pressure on the surrounding rock. This is repeated over and over again, until pieces of rock fall off. (Rock that falls off is called scree)

Further down the glacier, there is lateral and medial moraine. The lateral moraine has derived from frost shatter and freeze-thaw weathering of the valley sides, which is carried at the side of the glacier. The medial moraine is found at the centre of the glacier and results from lateral moraine joining together.

There is a truncated spur, up the valley side this has formed because where there used to be interlocking spurs the massive glacier removed the end of these inter-locking spurs leaving steep cliff like truncated-spurs.

Question 6A- Describe and explain the different ways in which people are having a bad effect on the natural landscape of the Cairngorms.

The Cairngorms is a place where more and more tourists are coming to visit. The tourists aim to enjoy there surroundings, but they are actually killing it.

The Cairngorms is one of the last wilderness sites in Europe, it is remote, has 4000ft. High plateau’s pine forests, deer, grouse, and even reindeers.

The actual wilderness is in decline, there is far less of it than there was, even 2 years ago. Tracks are being built so shooters can get on the moors more easily, walkers continually erode away at the paths. The walkers walk along the paths and erode it away. The paths gradually get worse so that the hikers walk around the worst places, this then widens the path and erodes away even more! And the problem persists and becomes bigger. Local people and environmentalists are against these people who are damaging the Cairngorms. They say there should be designated paths and trails for the hikers, walkers, climbers and shooters. The tracks and paths have now left very little land over 2 miles from a path or track.

The walkers, climbers and hikers walk along these paths for more difficult access to the Cairngorms. They like to try something new and be challenged.

The walkers actually damage the landscape deeper than you may think. The plants that are crushed under their feet can take many years to re-grow and they are very vulnerable. The grass also can take as long. Many people agree that locals should not be able to have as much easy access to these areas.

Question 6B-What are the positive benefits which people have brought to the Cairngorm area?

Positive benefits that people and tourists have brought to the Cairngorms has been that places such as Aviemore now has many people employed in the tourist industry. The tourists provide a major source of income for 40% of the 2000 people in the local area. There jobs include things from coach drivers to park rangers. Aviemore is purpose built (1966) all round tourist centre. The small towns attractions include theatres, cinema, shops, swimming pool, sauna, ice rink, artificial ski slopes and much more. All of these provides jobs for the locals.

Local people who own land and farms also take advantage of the tourists who visit the Cairngorms. Some landowners use their land for grouse shooting and tourists sometimes pay up to 5,000 for a weeks shooting.

There are also lots of business opportunities available to local businessmen. There are some that take advantage of the visitors to places like Loch Morlich who do watersports such as sailing and jetskiing.

Question 6C- Plans to develop the skiing facilities in the Cairngorms are causing a lot of argument. Imagine you are a reporter at a meeting about the new Funicular railway to the Cairngorm summit.


Yesterday there was a meeting to discuss the proposed development of a new funicular railway, for the Cairngorms summit. In attendance where many conservation groups and local, along with tourist associations.

The meeting started with a description of what the proposed railway will look like. The funicular railway will be built from the present bottom station, Coire cas, for easy access. The railway will travel all the way up to the Ptarmigan restaurant near the summit. The railway will be very quite and low-key according to the spokesman for the tourist associations. The building of the railway will be designed to minimise environmental impact by using reinstatement techniques. It will be run underground at the uppermost section and in a tunnel. The spokesman said that it is predicted that the number of visitors to the summit will increase from 50,000 to 200,000 a year.

There were also a number of advantages and disadvantages raised at the meeting the tourist associations concluded that the funicular railway would be able to get visiting tourists and skiers to the summit within 3 minutes. This would even be possible in 120km/h winds. This would never be possible on the chairlift. The railway also carries twice as many people per hour as the chairlift. He also mentioned that the increase in visitors would mean even more jobs and more incomes for locals. The new railway would also bring a new caf with a centre to explain climate and wilderness features about the mountains. He went on to say that the tourists would be unable to set foot on the mountain from the centre so there would be no damage done to the sub-arctic conditions. The spokesman finished on the fact that 250 M of the track will be in a tunnel to minimise visual intrusion.

After the spokeswomen for the conservation groups said that the national trust for Scotland and Scottish natural heritage both agreed that the funicular railway was visually intrusive. She went on to say that more people present on the mountain would mean even more damage to the fragile sub-arctic conditions and ecosystem. She mentioned the RSPB said they were concerned for rare birds in the area that will be disturbed, such as ptarmigan, golden eagles, and osprey.

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