The Cairngorms are a nationally and internationally renowned area of sub-arctic granitic mountains with high plateau areas and four of the five highest mountains in Scotland and the British Isles. The gaelic name for the range is Am Monadh Ruadh – the red hills. The granite is rich in orthoclase feldspar that gives the rock a pink fleck; this combined with evening sun on the western slopes probably accounts for the name. The Cairngorm mountain range is the centre piece of the Cairngorm National Park and home to the Cairngorm Mountain ski area. The northern Cairngorms rise high above the beautiful Caledonian pine forest of Rothiemurchus, while in the south the rise is more gradual above Braemar and the River Dee. Ben Macdui is right in the heart of the range and is Scotland’s second highest mountain.
To the west, across Strathspey, are the Monandhliath, or Am Monadh Liath, the grey hills. The Monadhliath are formed from metamorphosed sedimentary rocks and are lower, less craggy and less spectacular but certainly wide open upland space, the lower and more accessible parts are extensively exploited as grouse moorland.
Strathspey is a broad valley dividing the Cairngorm and Monadhliath ranges through which the River Spey flows, the Spey being Scotland’s third longest river, rising near the Corrieyairack Pass west of Newtonmore and reaching the North Sea at Spey Bay on the Moray Firth.
Discover and explore the Cairngorms and Monadhliath areas through the articles and links below.
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