The reason we had to visit was because I had promised O that we would find a funicular to ride after the one we tried to visit in Italy was non-existent. He was quite interested in visiting as he’s read all about them in his train books, and knew that they moved with a cable and as one train goes up the other comes down.
We picked a good day to go, the sun was shining and we headed up at 10am for the first train. Unfortunately both boys were tired due to lack of sleep from the previous night camping, but we were still determined to visit as the railway was just up the mountain from our campsite at Glen Morlich.
When we arrived we bought 2 adult tickets, children under 5 are free and I waited in the queue while Chris looked after the boys. Inside the base station are cool wood carvings of seats, animals and archways. Some parts lifted, or swung round and there were areas to smell and holes to put your hand in to feel items (although the holes were empty when we were there).
We got in the first train up the mountain and stared out the windows at the fantastic views both up and down. We were in the middle section on the way up, but it’s best to get a place in the top or bottom for the best views.
It takes just a few minutes to get to the top of the 2 kilometre journey, zipping past the other train on the short two track section.
The train terminates on the Cairngorm plateau Ptarmigan station. However, you are not allowed to leave the station without a guide. This is to reduce the impact of large numbers of tourists on the fragile Cairngorm ecosystem. Of course you can walk up the hill from the base station and wander around as much as you want before getting the train back down again. Maybe next time, I miss getting out on the hills!
Ptarmigan Station has lots of information boards in the exhibition area. Quite interesting to read them as your smaller ones sit in the wooden funicular cab and annoy all the other tourists by incessantly pressing the noisy funicular buttons (normally the most annoying button is repeated the most!). There is an area showing short films, one of which showed a local(ish) lady who has skied every day on the mountain for over 2 years (in the summer there are still patches of snow a few metres wide and long on the North side).
We went out to the viewing platform, where we realised it really was quite chilly up there compared to the base station. You could see miles around in all directions!
Inside we had a bite to eat in the UK’s highest restaurant, just cake for us as the lunches weren’t served until 12.
We headed back down after our cake as O was very tired. I was hoping to go back down and up again on another train as the tickets are valid for as many rides on the funicular as you want on the day, but tired children meant we couldn’t.
The previous day we had come up to visit the base station after our steam train journey, mainly because the sun had come out after a day of rain. We had a little explore and found an old chair lift made into a little swing and a lovely alpine garden area with a Camera Obscura hidden away in a tunnel. There is also a Starbucks at the base station and some a little viewing area.
I would highly recommend the Cairngorm Mountain Railway if you are in the area, it’s great value, especially if you go up and do a couple of times or more!
The trains run daily between 10am and 5pm, check out their website here for costs of the funicular and guided walks.
Have you been on a funicular?