During my visit to the Cairngorms in May with the Scotlanders boys, it was great to be able to spend the morning at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre.
Our guide for the day was Hen and it was clear that she was passionate about working with the reindeer, having been there for over eight years by now.
I never knew that Scotland used to have native Reindeer. Neither did I know that these became extinct around one thousand years ago! It was Mikel Utsi from Sweden who brought Reindeer back to Scotland in 1952. Mr Utsi was Co-Founder of the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre and helped reintroduce them back into this natural habitat.
We started off from the Reindeer Centre Reception and drove half way up Cairngorm Mountain, where we parked and started our walk towards the mountainside where the Reindeer graze and spend most of their time.
This stone has been laid here to commemorate Mikel Utsi, from when he died in 1978. This is the spot where you would cross the small river to enter the mountainside on which the Reindeer are found, when not involved in other activities over the Christmas season or other events throughout the year.
Before entering the mountainside, our guide Hen went over the do’s and don’ts when around the Reindeer. This was particularly important at this time of the year as they were growing their antlers, which were extremely sensitive and should not be touched. We were all told that we would have an opportunity to feed the Reindeer by hand, if we wanted to of course.
As soon as we arrived onto the site, the Reindeer gathered and knew that there was something in store for them, lunch! We all walked further into their mountainside field, before starting lunch service. Hen gathered most of the Reindeer, who were very eager to start their lunch! She started off serving the main meal and we were then to start serving the sides by hand!
It was great that we all had a go at feeding the Reindeer and they were well trained too. Once you had finished any food you did have, you just had to hold your hands up and they would know that you were finished!
After spending around 45 minutes with the Reindeer, we slowly made our way back towards the car where we met a few of the newcomers to the Cairngorm Reindeer herd. There were several smaller Reindeer calf’s who were so cute and so curious to see who we were!
When we came back to the centre, we paid a visit to the official Cairngorm Centre, which tells you in depth about the beginning of the Reindeer’s return to Scotland and about their natural environment.
Despite us not enjoying the best of the Scottish weather, it was still a really fantastic experience and I would love to return later in the summer once the male Reindeer would have their antlers fully grown and their summer coat is on full display. With the location only a short drive from Aviemore and alongside so many other activities in the region, this would be a perfect inclusion to an itinerary, especially for families with children, young or old. Just beside the Reindeer Centre, you will find a visitors centre, with a Restaurant called Cobbs, which serves fantastic freshly made sandwiches and amazing coffees, along with many other homemade goodies!
For further details of the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre please visit their website http://www.cairngormreindeer.co.uk/ or follow them on twitter @ReindeerHerd
Thank you for reading and to see what the other Scotlanders got up to, please visit http://www.thescotlanders.com or via #Scotlanders on Twitter