Experiencing the Park: Values, Perceptions and Expectations
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Taking ideas about embodied experience and ‘practice’ (and the role that the concepts play in the ways in which people understand, value and engage with environments) as a departure point, this study looks at the ways in which different recreational user groups experience the Cairngorms National Park. With a primary focus on hill walkers that climb the area’s many hills, and using qualitative interviews and ethnographic methods, the study, therefore, investigates the values, experiences and perceptions of some the Cairngorms National Park’s recreational users (as well as those of some businesses that cater for them). Ultimately, it seeks to find to what extent the park’s aims and practices meet the expectations of those who use and visit the park. It was concluded that the many and diverse experiences (and corresponding values) could lead to conflicting land uses within and perceptions of the national park and its landscape. As a result, the park has to both cater for varying desired experiences of those who visit it and the many expectations and opinions concerning what the national park should be aiming to achieve. Finally, it was argued that, given this, the park could focus on increasing communication with its users and visitors so as to generate a greater understanding of what the park stands for and what it does.