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How does a doctor’s daughter from the home counties end up as a reindeer herder in the Highlands of Scotland?
Tilly Smith lives and breathes reindeer; she owns 150 of them – Britain’s only free-ranging herd found in the Cairngorms mountains in Scotland. “Our childhood was immersed in natural history,” she says with a smile. “My dad was a doctor and his passion was deer. He passed on his interest.”
Tilly studied zoology, but had no desire to live in suburbia and knew about the Cairngorm reindeer herd: “I got in touch with [co-founder] Dr Lindgren and ended up in Scotland,” she says. “The keeper, Alan, wasn’t badlooking so I married him!” And now, 35 years later, there are three generations of their family.
The herd was originally brought over in 1952 by Mikel Utsi and his wife, Dr Ethel Lindgren, 800 years after the last recorded wild British reindeer. The couple were on honeymoon and Mikel, who owned Swedish reindeer, identified the unique sub-arctic qualities of the