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Cairngorms Minecraft world proves to be diamond idea


By Gavin Musgrove

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A hill fort created in the Cairngorms by one of the players.
A hill fort created in the Cairngorms by one of the players.

There have been plenty of plaudits for the Minecraft world of the Cairngorms, and interest from other organisations in rolling it out.

Cairngorms National Park Authority planning committee members were provided with an update on the innovative use of the best-selling computer game of all time at their latest meeting.

Some lucky youngsters were given the blank canvas to bring their visions to life for how the strath could look if they were in charge of rebuilding the ‘world’.

Three Cairngorms Youth Action Group (CYAG) members involved in the creation of the world called ‘Cairncraft’ related their experience at Friday’s meeting.

Ellie Moore said: “Overall I think the project was a great success and a really fun thing to be a part of. It was a great feeling to be working and contributing ideas to something incredibly important in the national park while sitting in a bean bag chair, chatting over Discord with my friends and playing Minecraft til 1am.

“I definitely have a better understanding of how planning works and what the national park’s aims and how they affect decision-making.”

Ellie said she would have struggled to take the information in if asked to sit through another virtual presentation on a ‘complicated and vague concept’ after school.

“Learning through Minecraft was easy and never felt like a chore or homework,” she said.

Emily Blackmore, a first-time Minecraft player, said: “It was great to climb up Cairn Gorm without getting out of breath and build a hill fort and live there permanently.

“Of course, it also brought some challenges. While the national park can sometimes be a harsh landscape to be in, thankfully we do not usually have to deal with zombies, skeleton archers and explosive Creepers.”

Rules introduced by the Cairncraft builders included structures must not compromise the overall look of the national park but some of the penalties for planning breaches were on the tough side.

Ellie explained: “We decided illegal structures could be taken down or better adapted to meet the park’s aims and the culprit may be tasked with community service such as collecting a particular resource for everyone.”

Emily said overall it had been a ‘fantastic’ learning experience, adding: “I am really curious to see where this goes next and I am hopeful that one day the map will be filled with thriving communities and providing ideas to the planning committee in the real world.”

CYAG member Liam McAllan also shared his thoughts with the committee.

This house would have a hefty price tag in the strath.
This house would have a hefty price tag in the strath.

Get your images in

CNPA planning bosses are hoping that the public will send them in images of some of their best Minecraft creations in the Cairngorms National Park.

Planning manager Dan Harris painstakingly recreated the region brick by brick but without its man-made buildings over three-months.

He told the meeting: “I would love it if members of the public using the map would share their creations and to see how they have interacted with the landscape.”

CNPA board convener Xander McDade said there was an opportunity here to engage with a lot of people who might not otherwise do so with the planning process or the park authority.

Mr Harris revealed there has been plenty of interest in the project from other organisations including the Scottish Government and local authorities.

He said some of these would like to use the map or run similar projects but nothing had been confirmed yet.

DIAMOND IDEA: Dan Harris finished creating the Cairngorms National Park in Minecraft's famous building blocks earlier this year.
DIAMOND IDEA: Dan Harris finished creating the Cairngorms National Park in Minecraft's famous building blocks earlier this year.

Mr Harris said: “We are very open to approaches.”

Players are dropped into the game at Aviemore. There are no man-made objects but familiar landmarks include the Northern Corries, the Lairig Ghru and Loch Morlich.

Players of all ages build, mine, battle mobs and explore ever changing worlds in the game, which has sold 200 million copies.

The Cairngorms National Park map is available here


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