Reindeer, Reindeer, Reindeer!!
The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd, based in Glenmore,are Britain’s only free-ranging herd and were reintroduced to Scotland in 1952 by a wonderful man called MikelUtsi. They high up in the Cairngorms where the sub-arctic conditions are perfect for them and today there are 150 reindeer living in the herd.
Throughout the year, you can visit these wonderful animals by joining a Hill Visit which takes you up to their enclosure. On this visit you can get up close to these beauties, feel their lovely thick coats on their backs, admire their stunning antlers that grow in all sorts of shapes and sizes and hand feed them too. It’s a great experience to visit the reindeer and feel their velvety noses tickle your hands as they gentle eat the food the herders pass you.
Each reindeer has a name and they are so characteristic too. Some are greedy and stay around looking for as much extra food as they can and some are so shy that they stand back and wait for the greedy ones to move away. The visits can last as long as you like as the herders definitely prefer to be up on the hill than doing paperwork in the office! They are so happy to chat away with visitors and answer as many questions they may have too. It’s nice to just sit on the ground, make sure it’s dry and free of reindeer droppings first, and just watch these stunning creatures graze and walk around you. Sometimes they just come and stand by you, or may even nudge you with their noses just to say hello. If it’s one of the male reindeer nudging you then they are probably searching for food as they are definitely ruled by their bellies!
Visiting at various times of the year gives you a real insight into the life of a reindeer. During Autumn and Winter they look absolutely amazing in their thick winter coats, then through the late Spring and Summer they sometimes appear a little scruffy whilst they molt. Springtime the calves are born and seeing these tiny reindeer is so special, especially if you visit again in the Autumn and see how much they have grown.
If you are unable to manage a trip to the Hill enclosure then don’t worry as you can still see reindeer. At Reindeer House where the herders live, there is a Paddocks at the side where they keep a small group of reindeer that you can visit. They only stay in there for a short period of time but it gives you the chance to see then up close too.
The reindeer are truly beautiful and if the weather is kind then the views from the hill are stunning. An experience not to be missed! Just remember your wellies or walking boots as the hill enclosure can be a bit wet and muddy!