Cairngorm Mountain Railway

Cairngorm funicular

The main reason for our recent camping trip to Aviemore was to visit the Cairngorm Mountain Railway, the UK’s highest railway and Scotland’s only funicular.

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).

cairngorm mountain railway funicular

cairngorm mountain railway funicular

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.

cairngorm mountain railway funicular

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.

cairngorm mountain railway funicular

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 Cairngorms

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).

cairngorm mountain railway funicular

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.

cairngorm mountain railway funicular

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.

cairngorm mountain railway funicular

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?

J x

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  1. August 27, 2015 / 7:54 am

    I didn’t have a clue what a funicular was until I read this post 😉 sounds fun though and love that you can go into the mountains!

    Stevie x

    • August 27, 2015 / 7:43 pm

      Ha ha! I just know all my train names etc. because of O! It’s surprising what you learn with your kids! 🙂 x

  2. August 27, 2015 / 6:12 pm

    I bet the views were beautiful from the top. That Starbucks gets everywhere ha! Great that the tickets were valid all day, maybe next time you will be able to make the most of them. A lovely post x

    • August 27, 2015 / 7:36 pm

      Thank you! The views were amazing! 🙂 x

  3. August 28, 2015 / 7:10 am

    This sounds like a ‘must do’ next time we are in Scotland. I don’t know if the children or husband would like it more.


    • August 28, 2015 / 8:53 am

      Ha ha! Hope you get a chance to go up! 🙂 x

  4. August 28, 2015 / 10:07 am

    Looks like fun, I would love to try it as I never been with a funicular before.

    • August 28, 2015 / 7:55 pm

      It was my first time on one too, definitely something to try if you’re in the area! 🙂 x

  5. August 28, 2015 / 3:07 pm

    Hi Jenny, I drove through the Cairngorms in 2012 and was not disappointed. The Highlands are just incredible! Would love to return. We never did the railway but I bet it is pretty amazing up there!
    Great post #PicknMix

    • August 28, 2015 / 8:28 pm

      I love the highlands, if we had jobs that we could do up there, we would move up! 🙂 x

  6. August 28, 2015 / 9:12 pm

    It looks awesome! I’d love to go one day 🙂 #binkylinky

  7. August 29, 2015 / 6:41 pm

    There’s a mountain railway not far from me – I’ve never been, but seeing your post is making me want to go now! I bet you had a great time and what a great opportunity to take some amazing pictures. Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky

    • August 29, 2015 / 9:55 pm

      You should definitely go! They are loads of fun! 🙂 x

  8. August 30, 2015 / 9:29 am

    Looks a fab place to visit thanks for linking to the binkylinky

  9. August 31, 2015 / 7:07 am

    Is this normally for skiers in winter, or is it just for transport?

    • August 31, 2015 / 7:31 am

      Skiers use it too, although there are chairlifts elsewhere too. 🙂 x

  10. August 31, 2015 / 6:06 pm

    I didn’t know what a funicular was, either, but I do now! And it looks like you had so much fun!

    • August 31, 2015 / 6:58 pm

      We definitely did, funiculars are great! 🙂 x

  11. September 1, 2015 / 3:13 pm

    How awful, I didn’t know what a funicular was until I read this! It looks like an interesting and fun day out – Cairngorm Mountain Railway is on the list if I am ever in the area. And I never knew it was the UK’s highest restaurant. What a great fact! Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

    • September 3, 2015 / 1:11 pm

      Ha ha, you don’t have a train fanatic for a child then! We’ve got to get all the train names correct here. 🙂 x

  12. September 1, 2015 / 7:16 pm

    This looks fantastic and we are actually off to the Highlands in a few weeks so this is timely. It looks so much fun – a train that climbs mountains – which is more than I can do,
    Thanks for sharing as I have added to our highland to do list.
    Katrina #MondayEscapes

    • September 3, 2015 / 1:07 pm

      Hope you enjoy it if you go then! I love the North of Scotland, a beautiful place to visit. Have a great holiday! 🙂 x

  13. September 4, 2015 / 7:05 pm

    Wow this looks amazing! I would love to make a trio to the highlands one day but it’s a bit of a treck from sunny old somerset!! Thankyou so much for lining up with #busydoinglife hope you can join me again tomorrow?!

    • September 6, 2015 / 5:50 pm

      Ha ha, you’ll have to come up from a couple of weeks then to make it worthwhile. Thank you for featuring me this week! 🙂 x

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