In 1989, when Alan and I took over the herd we opened up the ‘best room’ at the west end of Reindeer House to provide a reception and retail area for our visitors to the reindeer. We grandly named it ‘The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre’. From here our visitors have been able to book in for a Hill Trip or Paddock visit and maybe buy a memento to remind them of their visit.
This arrangement has worked for the last 33 years, albeit slightly disjointed with Reindeer House being both ‘The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre’ and accommodation for reindeer herders ( which is the reason why it was originally built in 1960 by founders of the Cairngorm reindeer herd, Mr Utsi and Dr Lindgren ).
Over the last 18 months we have been developing a vision for the future, which involves improving the visitor experience down in Glenmore, while of course keeping the increasingly popular Hill Trips to the herd on the mountainside.
We commissioned a local architect, Catriona Hill, to come up with a plan that would encompass our vision – a modest, but functional building, which would be accessible to all, provide wonderful reindeer exhibits and the entrance through which visitors will come to either book in for a Hill Trip to see the herd or to see the small group of reindeer on display in the Paddocks.
An initial feasibility study, followed by sketches, preliminary plans, various reports, and a positive pre-application report from our local council meant we lodged a planning application just before Christmas 2022.
So we are now waiting to hear what Highland Council have to say with regards to this and we are keeping our fingers crossed for a favourable decision. Here in the middle of The Cairngorms National Park we are very conscious of the need to construct a sustainable and sensitive building which is in character with the area – the Glenmore Forest with the stunning backdrop of the Cairngorm Mountains. Therefore the timber framed simple build will be wood clad with locally sourced larch, have a single sloping roof and it will be set back into the steep bank, in line with Reindeer House.
This is a very big step for us but we feel that the existing facilities are dated and disjointed and a new building with lovely displays, toilets, bespoke reindeer shop and most importantly the entrance to where the reindeer are on display in the Paddocks will be a mammoth step forward.
But don’t worry, it will still be operated by friendly, knowledgeable reindeer herders who put the welfare of the reindeer first and foremost and who will be the very people that will take you on the hill to see the herd or indeed talk to you in the Centre about our work and love of these beautiful animals! However, the new ‘space’ will be inviting to all visitors and an exciting new workplace for our dedicated staff.
The timescale for this to be up and running will depend of course on many factors, not least when we are awarded planning permission, building warrant, finding a builder and of course the weather. In an ideal world we would like to start physical works at the beginning of 2024 and hopefully have everything finished and open by the middle of the year. Watch this space!