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Discover your wild side competition

21st March 2011

“For an increasing number of people, the word ‘wildness’ is symbolic of a landscape that is untamed, remote, spiritually uplifting and mercifully free of the excesses of mankind. Look down into Gleann Guiseachean from the heights of Beinn Bhrotain, or stand at the head of Loch Avon and gaze up at the great crags of the Sticil and you’ll know what I mean. For many people, ‘wildness’ offers them a sanctuary, a haven, somewhere they can escape the growing pressures of burgeoning urbanisation. Such places are precious beyond value.” Cameron McNeish.

What is Wildness and what does it mean to you? That’s the question being asked by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) as it launches a new competition today (Monday, 21 March 2011).

The experience of Wildness is considered a special quality of the Cairngorms National Park – the strength and nature of which varies across the Park. The CNPA wants people to submit a poem, photograph or picture that best illustrates what wildness is for them.

CNPA Senior Heritage Officer, Matthew Hawkins, explained: “Wildness is the experience felt when in a wild place. Everyone’s idea of what wildness is and where it’s found will be different – for some, it will be found in their own back garden, for others it’s in a rugged mountain landscape or deep inside a natural pine wood.

“Whether a photograph, poem or a piece of artwork, we want everyone young and old to tell us what wildness in the Cairngorms National Park means to them. This will help us better understand the places in the Park that are special to people and why and what it means to people who live or visit here.”

The Wildness competition coincides with the start of a consultation on Supplementary Planning Guidance in relation to Wildness. Supplementary Planning Guidance has been produced to expand on the detail of some of the policies in the recently adopted Cairngorms National Park Local Plan and will be used when assessing planning applications.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved in the consultation on Wildness whether it’s through the competition or by taking part in the consultation in the more traditional way.

CNPA Board Member, Gregor Hutcheon, added: “Whilst few places can claim to be truly wild or untouched by man, there are many special places within the Cairngorms National Park where it is possible to escape modern life and feel nature in its raw and untamed majesty. If we are to better protect this special quality, we need you to tell us what matters and why.

“Is it the darkness of the night sky or the sense of tranquillity that most inspires that feeling of wildness? Or is it those places unfettered by the clutter of modern development – pylons, roads or buildings – that matter most? Get involved in this competition and have some fun whilst contributing to the consultation and helping us with our task of looking after the special qualities of the Park for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.”

Taking part in the John Muir Award scheme is another way to connect with wild places and explore what they mean to you and the National Park. John Muir Award Manager and CNPA Outdoor Learning Officer, Al Smith, said: “A sense of wildness is something many have had the chance to explore through the John Muir Award. To date, more than 10,000 people have gained awards in the Cairngorms National Park and it’s great to see another opportunity for people to share their experiences and how they feel about this special place.”

Entries will be used to illustrate people’s perception of wildness in the Cairngorms National Park and raise awareness of the special qualities of the Park.

The four categories are:

  • 16 and under poem
  • 16 and under photograph or picture
  • Adult (over 16) poem
  • Adult (over 16) photograph or picture

The winner of each category will be presented with a £30 book token.

To help get the creative juices flowing, colour maps showing varying degrees of wildness in the National Park can be viewed in the Wildness SPG, pages 8 & 9.

Competition entries should be clearly marked Wildness Competition and sent to Catriona Campbell, CNPA, 14 The Square, Grantown-on-Spey, PH26 3HG before the closing date of 29 April 2011. Please make sure your name, age, address and a contact phone number are written on the back of your entry. Please note it will not be possible to return entries and by submitting an entry you agree to the CNPA using it in documents and promotional material.

If you would like to take part in the consultation on Wildness (but not be part of the competition) please see our web page or contact the CNPA offices in Grantown-on-Spey tel: 01479 873535 or Ballater tel: 013397 53601 or email us.