There is definitely a sense of place when you visit the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands. It’s one of the last large-scale wild land areas in the United Kingdom. A place of high mountain plateaus with an Arctic tundra feel during the winter and alpine grassland like in the summer months.

It attracts lovers of the great outdoors all year round, and despite this across most of the national park it never feels crowded. I’ve spent many days hill-walking there and come across few other people.

Ptarmigan in the Scottish Cairngorms
A Ptarmigan in full winter plumage in the Scottish Cairngorms


So there’s always a good chance that you will come up close with some of the wildlife. One of my favourites is the Ptarmigan, shown above in its full winter plumage with a very ‘New Romantic” splash of red above the eye. It’s perfect camouflage on the snowy hilltops during the winter months. But it’s expertly disguised in the summer with a mixture of grey, brown and black feathers blending with the rocky tones of the mountainside. Quite often I’ve not noticed a ptarmigan until almost upon it, forcing it to take flight and voice an urgent alarm call.

Get up close to the wildlife in the Cairngorms

This film ‘A Sense of the Place – The Cairngorms’ showcases the bleak beauty of the winter months and the wildlife that you could spot. It’s simply done with no voice-over, just a chilly accompanying soundtrack. The director allows the landscape to speak for itself. My slight criticism is the inclusion of reindeer. This isn’t a wild herd, as reindeer were re-introduced in the 1950’s but they are free-ranging across 10,000 acres. You can even visit them on a trip from the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre.

Max Smith’s showcase film featuring the Scottish Cairngorms


You can see the other ‘A Sense of Place’ film shot in the Scottish Highlands featuring the Argyll Forest Park here. And take a look at this footage taken by a hill-walker who stumbled upon a litter of wildcat kittens on Lochnager, a mountain on the eastern fringes of the national park.