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Cairngorms Nature BIG Weekend returns after two years as virtual event

By Niall Harkiss

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BIG Weekend 2019 - Image credit CNPA - James Stevens
BIG Weekend 2019 - Image credit CNPA - James Stevens

After two years as a virtual event, the Cairngorms Nature BIG Weekend is back between the dates of May 12 and May 15.

To celebrate the return to live events, TV naturalist Gordon Buchanan will kick off the weekend with a topical discussion at Boat of Garten Hall on Thursday May 12.

‘Landscapes and Livelihoods’ will feature a panel of conservationists and land managers and will look at how to approach nature recovery in a living, working national park.

There will be more than 60 events taking place across the National Park over the weekend and the programme includes something for everyone, including family adventures, guided walks, musical entertainment and specialist ‘behind the scenes’ events.

From bugs and wee beasties to furry and feathered friends, it will be a celebration of the incredible wildlife that lives at the Cairngorms National Park.

Youngsters can enjoy stories of minibeasts in Grantown or go on a squirrel hunt and explore the woolly meadows in Tomintoul.

Over in Deeside visitors will be treated to a day of family nature fun in Glen Tanar or ‘step inside’ a capercaillie lek in Ballater.

If creativity is your passion there will be music from Hamish Napier and writing workshops with Merryn Glover.

For those wanting to go deeper into nature, the weekend promises a range of specialist walks and talks from experts who will inspire with their passion and knowledge, including a ‘behind the scenes’ tour on Balmoral and volunteering opportunities.

For the first time this year, specialist accessible events planned, including canoeing for disabled young people, off-road wheelchair trails and a hill walk for autistic adults.

Sarah Henshall, head of conservation at the Cairngorms National Park Authority said, “After two years of virtual events I am so excited that we can finally invite people back to a BIG Weekend full of personal adventures and experiences for all the family. The Cairngorms really is a ‘Park for All’ and this year we have events to cater for every age and ability.

“Part of caring for this amazing place involves working together with many different partners, landowners and agencies. We are delighted to be launching the BIG Weekend with our ‘Landscapes and Livelihoods’ event, which is designed to bring together a range of these voices for an open, honest and meaningful discussion on the key themes and challenges facing the National Park.”

TV naturalist Gordon Buchanan, who is chairing the discussion, said: “I am looking forward to being back in the Cairngorms National Park and to launching the BIG Weekend with a big topic. The Cairngorms is a unique landscape with special qualities, loved by the people who live, work and visit here. How we manage this landscape is an important question which provokes strong passions in all involved, so I am anticipating a lively and perhaps heated debate!”

The ‘Landscapes and Livelihoods’ event will include a session where the audience can put questions to the panel and will be followed with a light buffet - it is likely to be very popular and booking is highly recommended.

The programme is full and varied and new events are being added all the time.

For all the details please visit www.cairngormsnaturebigweekend.com.

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