Address: Cairngorm by Aviemore, PH22 1RB
Telephone: 01479 861261
Dedicated access tel: 01479 861 272 or visit www.disabilitysnowsport.org.uk
Hours: Disability Snowsports UK daily 9am–4pm
Dates: DSUK’s Cairngorm Ski School 2 Jan–end Mar
Entry: funicular [D] £8.25 [C] free [A] £9.50 [5–15s] £6 [Con] £8.25; for ski school lesson prices enquire through website
Cairngorm Mountain Railway and Ski Centre is literally the pinnacle of Scotland’s tourist industry – a wheelchair accessible visitor centre with viewing decks, shop and bar-restaurant – in the heart of the Highlands, at almost 3,600 feet.
Thanks to climate change, the centre has had to reinvent itself as a year-round attraction. The fully accessible funicular whisks you up in eight minutes with ever-changing views. The vistas and sunsets from the restaurant and viewing decks are amazing – you might even catch sight of some of the resident reindeer. Have a look at the exhibition recounting the mountain’s history, enhanced by tactile exhibits, including fur samples of the local wildlife and audio description accompanying the film show. If you can tear yourself away from the mountain-top, the all-abilities trail around the Wild Mountain Garden, back at car park level, is also worthwhile, with many plants indigenous to the area.
In season, the mountain is home to Disability Snowsport UK,who specialise in getting people onto the pistes, with a full range of adaptive equipment. They offer all levels of instruction, usually one-to-one, from complete beginner onwards, to enable people with almost any disability to ski and board.
There are eight allocated parking bays at the bottom station and a lift to the ticket hall. Bear in mind that the weather can be very changeable in the Highlands and regardless of the time of year you should always be prepared with warm clothing. Even in mid-summer it can snow at the summit. In winter you should call ahead to check on conditions as the car park can be snowed-in and the funicular subject to reduced or cancelled services. The four floors of Top Station are fully wheelchair accessible.
Food & drink: The Ptarmigan Restaurant (Tel 01479 861341) is the highest place to eat in Britain, so you can enjoy your lunch over the best views in Scotland. On Thursdays, it hosts the highest of Highland Flings, accompanied by an extensive buffet.