Allt na Ciste Hydro Scheme: Extra benefits for skiers!

Funding the Ciste Redevelopment Project + Providing a Guaranteed Cash Flow: we propose a small-scale Hydro-Electric Scheme in Coire na Ciste which will have a calculated minimum income of £68,320 per annum [at 2012 figures]. This forms part of our phased plans, which will see the redevelopment project partially self-funded.

More detail can be found on our page.

The potential for hydro power on the Allt na Ciste had previously been investigated in a consultancy report prepared by John Duncanson Engineering Ltd in 2012. We hold documented evidence from the 1990’s [not made available to the consultant] that burn flow rates are greater than the 2012 hydrological desk study suggested, which would increase energy produced – and therefore income – to above the 2012 estimations.

The micro dam at the water intake will be carefully planned and managed to not adversely effect either the Ciste Gully ski run, or the safety of skiers in the area. Indeed a direct benefit to snowsports users it is that the hydro scheme will by reducing flows in the Allt na Ciste reduce melt of the snow from below by the running water. This will therefore increase both the length of snow lie in the Ciste Gully and lower the elevation at which skiable snow builds in any given season. This will therefore extend the length of the ski season.


This benefit can be extended by the provision of a tail race pipe which puts the water back into the Allt na Ciste at Carpark Level during the snowsports season, while allowing water to be returned nearer the turbine house in summer. The combination of reduced flow in the Allt na Ciste and Snow Making has the provision to make skiing to the Ciste Carpark via the Lower Aonach and Lower Ciste Gully a regular feature through the core of the snowsports season, providing huge operational benefits for the operating company and much greater customer satisfaction.


The turbine house itself will be of an environmentally sensitive design, partly built into the hillside. It will also include a small viewing gallery and environmental education centre, as well as a food & drink servery and ski school meeting point, by a proposed dedicated learning zone on the floor of the lower reaches of Coire na Ciste. A learning zone that would be far more sheltered than any existing area on the mountain used for teaching new comers to skiing and snowboarding.


We’re pretty excited about the possibilities here. Look out for more from the ‘Save the Ciste’ Development Action Group in this coming Thursday’s (25 January) Strathspey & Badenoch Herald. In the meantime, don’t forget to like and share, and let us know what you think! Also a reminder that our e-petition is still running, in which you can show your support:

Map image Ordnance Survey © Crown copyright 2014


Outline of our proposals in the Strathy

Save the Ciste publicly announced an outline of our proposals for the future redevelop Coire na Ciste on CairnGorm in the Strathy on Thursday 15th January. The group’s proposals are being worked up from the original Save the Ciste manifesto at the invitation of the new operator, Natural Retreats to redevelop the area into an exciting year round destination, while respecting the mountain landscape through sensitive replacement of current derelict but much needed facilities.

Attached below is the full article by Editor Gav Musgrove in the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald, following a private presentation at Campaign HQ in Aviemore where we gave an exclusive insight into our proposals.

Have you read it? Let us know what you think, or add your voice of support by signing the e-petition at

A follow up article has is due to be published on Thursday, 29 January, be sure to get your copy of the Strathy.

Front Page

Save the Ciste outline plans


An example of why the Ciste is vital to CairnGorm Mountain

Sunday on CairnGorm, was an example of just how vital a redeveloped Coire na Ciste would be. The two Ptarmigan Bowl ski tows were closed due to weather, but the Lower Ciste chairlift could have be running to provide access to our planned new world class terrain park in the mid-coire area, plus blue & green runs back to the Ciste carpark, and – very significantly – access to a dedicated new learning zone in the area below the Lower Aonach on the floor of the core that is low down and sheltered, providing a better learning environment.

Such a Ciste learning area would provide the opportunity to sell all-inclusive packages: accommodation and meals (as part of our proposed redevelopment of the Ciste Base Area), lift passes, equipment hire and ski school lessons. The plans for the mid-coire area would be snow-reliable for up to 100 days per season with the introduction of a snowmaking operation, but even when there is no snow a neveplast slope would act as a winter back-up, and of course can be for summer use.

Picture taken looking into the core on Saturday: just look at that West Wall!!


Coire na Ciste – Strathy feature article

The campaign recently invited Gav Musgrove, the Editor of the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald, to our Campaign HQ in Aviemore for an exclusive insight into the team’s proposals for the future re/development of Coire na Ciste.


This phased series of proposals, with the reinstatement of both chairlifts included, will also include a hydro scheme with interpretative centre, accommodation and redevelopment/landscaping of the Ciste Base Area, snowmaking to cover a world class terrain park and children’s learning area in the area of the Lower Aonach, associated uplift modifications/developments in the mid-coire area, new mountain services/facilities, and mountain biking trails and trailhead.

The initial article appears on the front page of this weeks edition to provide an overview, and we would encourage interested persons to pick up a copy to learn more. Have you read it? Let us know what you think. In the meantime, the campaign team remain busy working in consultation with relevant industries and bodies to continue the development of our proposals, and to help further prove the financial and economic case. Enjoy the snow and don’t forget to like and share the article either on here or our Facebook Page, thanks



A chill in the air…

Snow making is underway today on the Zig Zags that bypass the Gunbarrel in Coire Cas on CairnGorm Mountain. You can make out the plumes of snow on the mid-mountain webcam at the SSC Hut looking towards the Fiacaill. If the snow-gun icon is green on the SSC Hut weather data table on Winterhighland’s mid-mountain webcam page then conditions are likely suitable for the T40 guns.


Success of snow making isn’t just about temperature to make snow, it’s about minimising the melt too – which is why the sheltered lower slopes of Coire na Ciste have exciting potential with modern snowmaking to provide fantastic new options for novices and early intermediates on CairnGorm Mountain at a level where conditions will be much more friendly more often than at the top of the mountain.


Presentation to Natural Retreats

Save the Ciste campaign group is pleased to confirm that our meeting with Natural Retreats took place as scheduled on CairnGorm Mountain on the morning of Thursday 27th November.

Kids Learning Zone

We presented our outline proposals for a multifaceted redevelopment of Coire na Ciste, that will provide enhanced experience for snowsport customers of all ability levels as well as bringing about environmental improvements within the Ciste. Our proposals now extend well beyond simple reinstatement of the Chairlifts and indeed would enhance the chairlifts by making them more user friendly for less experienced skiers and boarders, as well as providing for walk on/off use opening up the scope for use beyond snowsports.

Our plans were very well received by Natural Retreats and particularly the potential to take advantage of modern snow making systems to utilise the terrain in the lower portion of the Coire for novices, snowplough tuners and a dedicated kids learning zone, sheltered from the worst ravages of the weather that can regularly affect the upper Mountain and the Ptarmigan Bowl.

The Map provides an indicative placement for the segregated learning zone that would be served by a magic carpet or handle rope tow. The provision of toilet facilities and a warming hut incorporated into a potential Hydro Electric Turbine building immediately adjacent to the learning zone in proximity to the proposed mid-line load/unload area on the Ciste Chair (red circle) would provide an ideal learning environment on the most sheltered area of the mountain. Located at lower elevation and hidden from the Strath beyond flood-lighting would provide a new opportunity to provide first time snowsports instruction to local school children on weekday evenings.



It was agreed with Natural Retreats senior management that the campaign group will continue to develop these proposals over the coming months and we will continue to keep supporters informed via Facebook and our blog at .


A busy week for Save the Ciste

A busy and exciting week ahead for the Save the Ciste campaign. On Thursday several members of the campaign will be meeting with Natural Retreats and giving a presentation on options and concepts for the redevelopment of Coire na Ciste.

The objective is not to simply re-instate as was, but to bring the Ciste Chairlifts back into service as part of an integrated phased development that seeks to improve CairnGorm Mountain’s offering both in winter and year round by more fully realising the fantastic potential of Coire na Ciste.

Lower Ciste Gully

Many think of Coire na Ciste as an area for only advanced skiers and borders. However we will also this week be having a meeting with some local Snowsport Instructors to explore the potential options for providing enhanced learning facilities in the lower and most sheltered parts of Coire na Ciste. These areas would be supported by a modern snow making system, with access from the Coire na Ciste Chairlift’s new intermediate station (which will also provide an effective replacement for the decommissioned Aonach Poma for more experienced riders).

We’ll post updates later in the week.


The (ex) Boardwalk

Natural Retreats have partly removed the Coire na Ciste boardwalk which had fallen into a state of disrepair and been partially demolished early summer by CML. Despite the majority of the boardwalk being removed, a large amount of broken detritus (posts, wire, nails, and boarding) has been left on the hillside, and we today ask the operator to urgently address and clear up this dangerous mess prior to it being covered by snow.


The boardwalk provided the vital safe link across the steep heathery slopes off the lower West Wall to connect the snow-sure natural ski runs of Coire na Ciste with the uplift infrastructure, enabling Coire na Ciste to remain open well into the springtime. The Ciste Gully has been kept closed on numerous occasions in the past few seasons due to ‘safety concerns’ regards skiers crossing the lower West Wall in order to return to the WWP.

The boardwalk existed for a reason and we therefore call on the operator to announce to their customers the plans they will no doubt have for the replacement of this essential piece of infrastructure.


Late November meeting with Natural Retreats

Following the disappointment of Wednesday 8 October we received an apology from the Chief Operating Officer at Natural Retreats regarding the cancelled meeting.

Following further email discussions we are happy to report that Natural Retreats have today confirmed a new meeting with them on Thursday 27 November 2014.

In the meantime the campaign team continues to explore potential ways forward in Coire na Ciste and team members have been studying hundreds of old Chairlift Company and CairnGorm related documents for useful information in building a coherent vision for how Coire na Ciste can be redeveloped in a both economically and environmentally sustainable way.

SavetheCiste believes that regeneration of Coire na Ciste offers unique opportunities to put CML on a more sustainable financial footing while delivering enhancements that will bring benefits for all snowsports customers, expert or novice, whether they start their day in Coire na Ciste or Coire Cas.

We will keep you updated, thanks for your continuing support – please continue to spread the word about our e-petition, every voice helps.


Natural Retreat’s Ciste Retreat

The campaign is disappointed to report that today’s scheduled meeting regarding the future of Coire na Ciste was called off by Natural Retreats at the eleventh hour.

The scheduled meeting date of 8 October 2014 was agreed with Natural Retreats management in early September. This morning at 08:53hrs on the scheduled day of the meeting we received email communication which said: “I am looking forward to travelling up to Cairn Gorm to be there for either 21 or 22 October.

Meanwhile, the campaign team remain undeterred, and we will continue to develop the proposals which will be put into the public domain in the near future.