Park Life

Paddling Loch Lomond

This week is National Parks Week with events and activities galore in all of Britain’s 15 National Parks. Scotland has two of the biggest and best – Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park and the Cairngorms National Park – so we asked the people who manage them to tell us what is going to make this week special.

Ruth Crosbie, media manager at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, has more than 720 square miles of woodland, mountains, lochs and coastline to enthuse about.

She tells us: “Our National Park is rich in wildlife and is the perfect place to discover red squirrels, otters, black grouse, red deer, porpoises and golden eagles. Throughout the Year of Natural Scotland, there are lots of ways you can experience landscapes, forests, fauna and flora with a host of events – and as part of National Parks Week, a number of free events are being held.

“Come to the National Park Visitor Centre at Balmaha to find out about family-friendly activities, see exhibits and displays and get up close and personal with all things nature.  From informative walks and talks, to discovering the boggy beasties that live on the lower slopes of Ben Lomond, there’s something for everyone.

“Look out for birds, search for dragons, damsels and water boatmen, learn about bats and moths and go on a grassland safari.

“A special free event to let you try activities you may not have considered is being held at Loch Lomond Shores on Friday 2 August, 10am to 4pm. Get Active is suitable for children and adults and includes archery, bushcraft, mountain biking, a chance to try the climbing wall, segway rides, treetrek, katakanu, rowing boats, rib rides, horse and cart rides and much more. National Park staff will be on hand to help you find new places to explore on bike, foot and water.

“Make the most of National Parks Week and discover what Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park can offer by visiting www.lochlomond-trossachs.org

Cairngorms National Park

Karen Archer is press officer for the Cairngorms National Park, which is the UK’s largest, at 1,748 square miles. She said: “We are 10 years old this year – and what better way to mark the occasion than with a celebration of all things cycling? The first ever Cairngorms Bike Festival takes place on Sunday 4 August at Glenmore Lodge, near Aviemore, and promises to be a fun-filled family day out whatever type of cycling you’re into.”

National Parks Week this year focuses on the theme of being active, and the Cairngorms National Park is a great place to do that. It is one of the best places in the country to enjoy cycling, from high adrenalin mountain biking to something more leisurely between and around the park’s communities.

Duncan Bryden, Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, added: “Cycling in the National Park has continued to grow in popularity, both off and on road and is very important to the local economy. I think the Cairngorms Bike Festival is an excellent event to add to our 10th anniversary celebrations this year.”

The Park, which takes in much of Royal Deeside, Strathdon, Badenoch and Strathspey, parts of Moray, the Angus Glens, Highland Perthshire and Glenshee, is three times the size of London. It is home to 17,000 people, is internationally important for nature conservation, is a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts and has a rich cultural past.

A decade of work by the authority, with a range of partners, has included projects for rare plants, fresh water pearl mussels, raptors, wildcats and water voles. So if you want to find out more, what better week to do so?

See www.cairngorms.co.uk

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