That this aspect of the Cairgorms has enduring appeal, is demonstrated by the statement of the Cairgorm Club, founded in 1887 by spontaneous acclaim of companions gathered at the shelter stone in Glen Avon. In its evidence to the 1981 Lurcher’s Gully Public Inquiry, the Cairngorm Club stated:
“It is often thought (or argued by those whose case it serves) that some of the present day pleas of climbers and other outdoor users for conservation of wilderness areas are a novelty, a selfish and elitist trend of the last ten or fifteen years. However, the history of the Cairngorm Club bears out that this is not so. It is clear from the Club’s Journal that there has for at least a century been a demand from members of the public (who cannot all be cranks) for opportunity for “wilderness experience”, opportunity to get away from the usual trappings of civilisation. It seems likely that so long as there are places to satisfy it this demand will be an eternal one.”
The Cairngorms remain a remote and exposed area giving scope for a wide range of high quality, adventurous activities like multi-pitch rock climbing and cross country skiing. They are the largest area for hillwalking in Britain with four of the five highest mountains in the UK and for lower level ramblers they contain the most extensive sub-arctic uplands and varied moorlands in the British Isles. Two of their major rivers, the Dee and the Spey, are important in UK terms for white water kayaking. In recent decades demand for such outdoor recreations has grown considerably.
They are a major training area for participants in such adventure activities and contain the National Outdoor Training Centre at Glenmore Lodge. For mountaineers, they have been an important training ground and the area of origin of mountaineering techniques that are now globally used.
The importance of the landscape and wildlife of the Cairngorms, plus their scope for outdoor recreation, for the local tourism industry cannot be overemphasized! They form the backbone of the regional tourism industry, which is the major employer. Recently, the wildlife of the area is also providing an excellent base for the expanding market of ecological tourism.
Lastly, they are important for recreational hunting. They contain extensive grouse moors and deer forests, while all the major rivers support important fisheries, chiefly based on the Atlantic salmon.