Get into the Christmas Spirit at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre
If you’re trying to find something a bit more unusual to do with your children before Christmas, we’ve got a great idea for you: visit the Reindeer Centre in Glenmore where Britain’s one and only reindeer herd resides. Learning about these mysterious creatures that are so strongly associated with Santa is an excellent way of getting into the Christmas mood. Your kids will love feeding the reindeer, but by no means do you have to have children in order to visit – it’s a great day out for adults too!
The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is situated around a ten minute drive from Aviemore and Hilton Coylumbridge near the beautiful Loch Morlich in the Glenlivet Estate in the Cairngorm Mountains.
The herd consists of around 150 reindeer, which all have their own names and are individually recognised by the herders. Each year the reindeer herders pick a theme, according to which they name the newborn calves – in 2010 the theme was bugs and beasties and in 2011 it was games and pastimes. If you have any good ideas for next year’s theme, suggestions are always welcome! You can see the names and noses of some of the reindeer here.
When can I visit?
During summer (from June to August) there are half-day treks in the company of friendly, trained reindeer that you can join when booking in advance. You’ll even get to lead your own reindeer if you wish and see the reindeer getting fed whilst admiring spectacular views of the Cairngorm Mountains.
Don’t worry, there are also daily guided visits to the herd at 11am all year round, although during winter visits naturally depend on the weather. One of the reindeer herders takes visitors up to the slopes where the main herd lives throughout the year, and you’ll even get the chance to hand-feed and feel how soft the noses are.
Visits to the herd cost £14 for adults and £8 for children. If you’re only visiting the paddock at the centre where a group of reindeer are cared for, prices are £3.50 for adults and £2.50 for children. (Children under 5 enter for free.)
Where did the reindeer come from?
As we mentioned, this is the only reindeer herd in all of Britain. Reindeer were re-introduced into Scotland in 1952 by a Swedish reindeer herder called Mikel Utsi. Semi-nomadic reindeer herding is the best known means of livelihood for the indigenous Sami people that live in northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia – and many still live off herding today. Back then Mikel started with only a few reindeer that has transformed into a herd of 150. Breeding is, however, being controlled to stay between 130 and 150 individuals.
It all started when Mikel was travelling in in the Scottish Highlands in 1947 and realised that the landscape reminded him a lot of Lapland and discovered that there was plenty of similar food for the reindeer too. He decided to bring over a few reindeer as an experiment and to prove that they were able to live and breed in these surroundings. And they did, and Cairngorm Mountain, being one of the coldest places in Britain, turned out to be an excellent place for reindeer. Thanks to Mikel we have the opportunity to learn more about these kind animals and even meet them in real life.
Stay at Hilton Coylumbridge during your visit
If you fancy a visit to the Reindeer Centre but live too far away for the visit to be just a daytrip, why not take advantage of our generous Pre-Christmas hotel offer and turn your visit into a relaxing mini-break? The offer includes a two-night midweek stay with breakfast and dinner on both days as well as a crisp bottle of Prosecco per room.
Book your Pre-Christmas break before it’s too late!