Mountain makeover planned for Cairngorm adventure centre

Plans have been unveiled to turn one of Scotland’s most valuable and important mountains into a year-round visitor attraction.

Skiing and snowboarding already popular at Cairngorm Mountain

Photograph by: Gerry McCannSkiing and snowboarding already popular at Cairngorm Mountain

A multi-million pound investment project to enhance facilities on CairnGorm Mountain have been unveiled by resort operators Natural Retreats.

The company already operates resorts at John O’ Groats and in Ireland, Cornwall and Yorkshire.

It aims to create a world class mountain destination with all-year-round appeal by sympathetically enhancing the visitor facilities and broadening the activities that the mountain destination offers.

The project, which has an estimated cost in the region of up to £15m, will include a replacement day lodge building with food and beverage outlets, shops, ski and bike hire, a crèche, adventure zone, gym, offices and conference and event space.

Artist impression of building by Keppie Design

Artist impression of building by Keppie Design

There will also be staff bunkhouse accommodation to allow the facilities to open earlier and close later and a mountain rescue and medical centre.

Also proposed as part of the plans are an artificial ski slope, mountain biking, increased snow making facilities, improvements to the ski uplift, ski slopes and runs, improved signage and way-finding, and improvements to car parking and landscaping.

Wherever possible, Natural Retreats plans to use local firms to carry out the work, and source Scottish materials for the construction of the new building created by architects Keppie Design.

Natural Retreats has already submitted a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) for the plans and met with Highland Council and the Cairngorm National Park to discuss the proposals ahead of submitting a formal planning application for the project.


“CairnGorm Mountain is one of the most beautiful and most visited places in Scotland. We want to create a world class facility that matches the stunning setting and increases the long term economic benefit to the local communities in the Badenoch and Strathspey area,” said Adam Gough, Head of Technical Services at Natural Retreats.

“Current activities on the mountain are heavily weather-dependent and the buildings are no longer fit for purpose. This project will address both of these problems and transform CairnGorm into a four-season mountain destination. We expect that this additional activity at the mountain will result in the creation of an additional 40-50 jobs.

“As part of the planning process, we have already carried out a number of pre-consultation meetings with Highland Council and Cairngorm National Park and we have been greatly encouraged by the positive response so far.


“We are now keen to hear the views and feedback on our plans from as many tourists, local people and businesses as possible prior to our planning applications being submitted early next year. I truly believe our plans will elevate CairnGorm Mountain to one of Europe’s top leisure and adventure destinations, which would be a fantastic boost to the area’s economy.”

CairnGorm Mountain is already the most popular snowsports destination in Scotland. Located within the Cairngorms National Park it has been offering snowsports for over 50 years and has 30km of ski runs, 11 lifts, a fully maintained freestyle park and an on-site Ski School that caters for all abilities.

In the summer, when the snow melts, the resort, which is home to Scotland’s only funicular railway ferrying passengers to the 1097 metres summit in just four minutes, is transformed into a hub of activity for wildlife watchers, walkers and mountain bike enthusiasts.