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The Cairngorms National Park Junior Ranger Project

By Pete Short on 15th July, 2022

Countryside Ranger

The Cairngorms National Park Junior Ranger Project is an exciting, fun and adventurous outdoor learning programme for young people aged 11–18 years, with monthly sessions running in both Badenoch & Strathspey and Deeside. It’s a collaborative project run by the family of ranger services across the area, meaning Junior Rangers get a chance to explore a wide variety of wild places across the Cairngorms, meeting lots of great people along the way.

We run a five day Junior Ranger week annually with local high schools and teachers, with the aim of better connecting young people to nature through practical conservation work, canoeing, cycling and meeting a huge range of rural workers such as rangers, deer stalkers and foresters. Junior Ranger participants work towards their John Muir Discovery award and deliver a short talk or video on their week to parents, partners and peers.

We also run a monthly programme that is not linked to the high schools – anyone aged 11-18 can come along to the monthly sessions, and we regularly check in with the Junior Rangers for insights and ideas on how we shape the programme going forward.

Take a look at what the Junior Rangers get up to in the photos below.

Kingussie High School Junior Rangers with a leech!
Kingussie High School Junior Rangers with a leech!
Children in canoes on the river spey
Canoeing down the Spey. An active day for the Kingussie Junior Rangers!
group of children looking through binoculars outside
Trying out the binoculars funded by the Cairngorms Youth LAG Fund.
Children outside sketching nature
Taking time to appreciate nature through art. It helps a lot if it’s not raining!
Group of children sitting on the floor in a bird hide
Speyside Junior Rangers helping to plan the upcoming summer camp. Here they successfully applied to the NatureScot Future Routes Fund.
Group of children on a mountain path
Speyside Junior Rangers help the Cairngorm Mountain Rangers with path maintenance.
Man holding out basket of foraged leaves for children to pick up
Speyside High Junior Rangers out foraging on a Green Health Day in their Junior Ranger Week.
Group of junior rangers standing in front of an ant's nest
Ant appreciation! Deeside & Speyside Junior Rangers getting together in Abernethy Forest.
Junior rangers having a snack in a tent
Deeside Junior Rangers take shelter under a bothy bag!
Junior Rangers looking at some specimens in a tray of river water
Deeside Junior Rangers looking at water invertebrates. The natural world is fascinating!
Two junior rangers setting up a camera trap
Setting up camera traps is great fun.
A boy and a girl hand feeding a Highland Cow
Junior Rangers get to go behind the scenes at the farm on Rothiemurchus.
Group of junior rangers smiling for the camera with the Cairngorms behind them on a cloudy day
Ranger Services across the National Park are a key part of the delivery of the project.

The project involves 11-18 year olds, working alongside ranger services and other partners in the Park. It is based on a European model of engaging young people in fun, practical activities in Protected Areas that provides them with new skills and the opportunity to act as ambassadors for the National Park.

The Junior Ranger programme operates across Europe and our groups are affiliated to the EUROPARC Federation.

Monthly programme

Young people can sign up to monthly Junior Ranger sessions held in a variety of locations in the Cairngorms National Park. The participants will have the opportunity to:

  • develop skills, knowledge and understanding from the initial programme
  • use new skills in meaningful and real situations
  • act as Youth ambassadors for the Cairngorms National Park
  • participate in International and National Camps and exchanges
  • achieve their Scottish Countryside Rangers Association Junior Ranger Award

Schools’ programme

We work with secondary schools and partner Ranger Services in and around the Cairngorms National Park to deliver a 5 day programme that involves:

  • Visits and talks
  • Conservation tasks
  • Outdoor activities
  • Sharing experiences with friends and family
  • Achieving the John Muir Discovery Award
  • Graduating as a Cairngorms National Park Junior Ranger


Junior rangers have the chance to explore the Cairngorms, working alongside adult rangers on practical tasks, whilst having fun and learning new skills with people of their own age. These skills will benefit young people in any future employment including roles within tourism and education. The activities will particularly suit those with an interest in outdoor or practical jobs such as public services, outdoor instructors and any roles within conservation and land management.

The project aims to promote international exchange, to develop positive, cooperative social skills, and to encourage the active citizenship of young people.

The project is based on experiential, practical, fun and inspirational activities in Protected Areas. It is managed by rangers, according to the idea of ‘learning by doing’. The programme is non-discriminatory and requires a professional approach and high standards of quality. The Junior Ranger project aspires to high environmental standards and forms connections between EUROPARC Protected Areas and local young people.

There are two groups of Junior Rangers that meet once a month on a Saturday or Sunday – one in Badenoch & Strathspey and one in Deeside. Locations and times vary depending on the session, but plenty of notice is given.



There is no charge for young people to take part in the programme. Delivery of most of the activities is shared across all the ranger services in the National Park, in addition to other key partners.

While some of the junior ranger equipment/resources is paid for by the CNPA (Cairngorms National Park Authority), young people in the programme are also encouraged to take an active role in grant applications and are involved in decisions on what that money is spent on.

Looking to the future, the Junior Ranger project will always help any young person with an interest in employment in outdoor, practical or environmental jobs.


To register your child for Junior Rangers please email [email protected] with their name, date of birth, and address.

See what the Junior Rangers have been up to on Cairngorms Rangers Facebook.

If you know someone 11-18 who lives locally and might like to join in with the Cairngorms National Park Junior Ranger project, all the joining information can be found by heading to or find our page on social media for updates:

Junior Rangers Facebook

CNPA Ranger Service Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

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