This is the only funicular mountain railway in Britain, ascending the northern slopes of Cairn Gorm .
The line ascends 453m (just under 1500’ ) in a distance of just under 2km, with a maximum gradient of 42.8%. The two metre gauge track is on stilts raised above the ground surface.
The two cars are connected by a steel cable, with the weight of the descending car hauling up the lower car. A drive motor located in the top station controls the speed. There is one passing loop. Each car carries 100 passengers and the journey time is about 4 minutes.
The line opened in 2001, replacing a ski lift which was often closed by high winds. It closed in 2018 due to structural as well as health and safety issues. The Scottish Government announced a funding project to repair the funicular as it was regarded as an unique Scottish attraction. It reopened in 2023, but with no access to the mountain from the Top Station in an attempt to conserve the fragile ecosystems. (Having seen the damage passenger numbers have caused at the top of Snowden, this is understandable and to be applauded.)
There are walking trails from the Base Station following clearly marked tracks.
As well as the funicular railway there are still ski lifts for use in the winter.
The railway starts from the Base Station in the Coire Cas area where there’s a restaurant, shop and ticket office,
It ascends rapidly past past the Mountain Garden with labels identifying the different species. Coniferous trees are able to grow in the more sheltered areas.
The tops of the mountains have very low growing vegetation and bare rock. At the end of May there were still snow patches on the tops.
Bog vegetation with cloudberry and cotton grass is found in damp hollows or along the small streams.
There is a passing loop at Half Way Station
Top Station is reached through a short tunnel and is carefully designed not to stand out above the surroundings when approached by the railway.
The building is on four levels and is confusing with poor signage. The Ptarmigan Restaurant has wide viewing windows and serves a wide selection of reasonably priced food. The shop sells a range of good quality but expensive clothing and gifts. There is no tat here.
There is a 270 ˚ ‘immersive experience’ which was high on visual content but low on content. although the photography was superb, I found the camera panning across the screen left me feeling sea sick.
There is a view onto the top of Cairn Gorm to the south east from the entry for walkers from the top of the moutain to the funicular.
Top Station has two viewing platforms to the north. The upper one is larger. When we set off the tops were covered with cloud. We watched the cloud roll off the tops and into the valleys.
Eventually it cleared from the valley bottoms with views of Loch Morlich set among the trees of Glenmore Forest Park.
While this is very much and up and back experience with little to do once you have reached Top Station, I felt it was very worthwhile and am glad I have done it. Having said that, I wouldn’t necessarily bother doing it again...