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OPEN COUNTRY
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Open Country
Sat  6.10 - 6.35am
Thurs 1.30 - 2.00pm (rpt)
Local people making their corner of rural Britain unique
This week
Saturday 22nd December
Listen to this programme in full
Creran the reindeer
Bethan Bell visits Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands, where visitor numbers are falling alongside fewer snowfalls.
Snowy days in Aviemore are getting rarer - and if the snow doesn't come, then nor do the skiiers. At the foot of Cairngorm Mountain in the Scottish highlands, the town was little but a railway station until the 1950s, when bulldozers moved in and created ski-runs. A tourist resort was created overnight - and until a few years ago, it was thriving. But snow is getting less predictable while the prices of foreign skiing holidays fall -  and winter sports enthusiasts want to go where the weather is guaranteed. So what else can Aviemore offer?

Tilly Smith from the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre introduces Bethan Bell to her herd, including Creran (pictured above); Mountain Ranger Heather Morning  goes up Cairngorm on a funicular railway to show Bethan the snow at the top, and Neil Hicking talks about the Mountain Weather Information Service. Down in Glenmore forest, David Jarden from the Forestry Commission bemoans the plight of the capercaillie - an odd-looking turkey-sized bird which is even rarer in the area than skiiers.
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