Park Talk: Rich in stories!
23rd March 2022
By CNPA Board Member, Dr Fiona McLean
2022 is Scotland’s Year of Stories – a chance to celebrate and highlight our rich cultural heritage and creative industries. Stories are a vital part of Scotland’s culture and shared stories – whether spoken, written, sung or filmed – are what gives us a sense of place, history and belonging.
This is particularly true of the Gaelic language. Take a look at the gaelic place names of the Cairngorms National Park. While many of the place names are literal descriptions of a particular location such as Newtonmore (Baile Ur an t-Sleibh), which means the new town on the moor, or Am Monadh Ruadh meaning the russet-coloured mountain range – there are place names that hold much more mystery. For example, what is the story behind Loch Mallachie in Strathspey, which in gaelic means the loch of the curse? Or Creag an Fhuathais in Deeside, which means the Crag of the Spectre – what ghostly goings on happened there?
Long before it was a National Park, the Cairngorms was inspiring many creative-types – hundreds of artists, musicians, photographers, writers and poets have shared their passion for the area through their medium.
Think Nan Shepherd with her evocative writings depicting her explorations of the Cairngorms in ‘The Living Mountain’, which was written in the 1940’s; Sir Edwin Landseer’s famous 1851 ‘Monarch of the Glen’ painting of a magnificent red deer stag in Glenfeshie or Angus Cumming, piper and fiddler for Sir James Grant of Grant, who is famous for his collection of ‘Strathspey’ tunes. His ‘Collection of Strathspey or Old Highland Reels’ was published after his death in 1780.
Fast forward to a more modern age and the Cairngorms National Park continues to inspire – and with everything at our fingertips these days thanks to technology and particularly social media – our creative-types can share their Cairngorms inspired works with a much wider audience. Showcasing what the Park has to offer through art, music and prose.
The use of the Cairngorms National Park as a filming location for many movies and TV series has grown the popularity of the area further. Hollywood blockbusters such as James Bond, Outlaw King and Mary Queen of Scots, to popular television series including Monarch of the Glen, the Crown and Outlander. This attention from film and TV producers is really good news for the economy of the Park, alongside the contribution already being made by our local artists, musicians, writers and photographers.
So during 2022, why not discover more about the stories of the Cairngorms National Park by visiting the real-life locations from your favourite books, films and songs. Visit galleries, go to concerts and don’t forget to check out places like the Cateran Eco Museum in Angus – a museum without walls – where you can find out about the area’s human history stretching back through a millennia or find out more about the stories of the Highland way of life at the Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore. Use the Shinty Trail to find out more about the tales connected with that ancient sport or download the ‘Badenoch: the Storylands’ app for an interactive map with walking, cycling and car routes telling the stories of Badenoch. There’s also the chance to join the Storyland Sessions with local storytellers and musicians at monthly live events throughout Badenoch. There are thousands of stories out there – you just need to know where to look or listen.