Contested Mountains

Nature, Development and Environment in the Cairngorms Region of Scotland, 1880–1980

Robert A. Lambert

Contested Mountains is an historical study of the extraordinary changes in attitudes to Nature and the use of land in the Cairngorms region since 1880. The study looks at early visitor perceptions of the region and the history of rights of way disputes in the area. It also presents an environmental history of the osprey in Scotland, and the history and development of Glenmore National Forest Park, the Aviemore tourist industry, the Cairngorms National Nature Reserve and the Cairngorms National Park ideal. 

Contested Mountains is essential reading for anyone interested in the historical background to present-day debates about land-use and access in the Cairngorms.

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‘A book which will be welcomed by anyone and everyone with an interest in the Cairngorms, in the environment and in the long continuing tensions between the imperatives of nature conservation  on the one hand and the demands of popular recreation and business development on the other…it is a strictly historical and disciplined recount of the way in which the still-unresolved issues of the environment versus competing economic requirements developed.’

Magnus Magnusson

‘This welcome addition to the literature on the recent environmental history of Britain is an exhaustively detailed study of the interplay between tourism, conservation and landownership in one of the most popular tourist areas in Scotland.’

Angus J.L. Winchester H-Net

‘… well written and easy to follow’

Gordon WhitneyEnvironmental History


Robert A. Lambert was Senior Research and Teaching Fellow at the Institute for Environmental History, University of St Andrews, Scotland, but has been a cross-Faculty ‘environment’ academic at the University of Nottingham for the last twenty years. He is the University Environmental Ambassador and serves as Vice-President of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. 


Abbreviations and Acronyms


Foreword by Magnus Magnusson KBE


1. ‘At last the full prospect of these glorious Cairngorms’: The Discovery of the Mountains, Early Visitors and Victorian Tourists

2. ‘By right and not by favour’: The Rights of Way Debate

3. James Bryce: His Access Campaign in Scotland, his Legacy and his Critics

4. The Osprey on Speyside: An Environmental History

5. Hotels, Hoteliers and Cairngorms Tourism 1900–1955

6. The Post-war Recreation Boom

7. Enjoying the Pinewoods: The Glenmore National Forest Park Ideal

8. ‘Our natural playground’: The Cairngorms National Park Ideal

9. From Aspiration to Designation: The Origins of the Cairngorms National Nature Reserve

10. Balancing Science, Nature and People: The Management of the Largest National Nature Reserve in Britain

11. Postscript



Publication date: 15 March 2022

ISBN 978-1-912186-53-2 (PB) £25