We went exploring last Sunday around Balmoral Estate in search of the ‘Cairns’ and in particular, the impressive Balmoral Pyramid which was built by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved husband, Prince Albert.
The cairns are a pretty well-kept secret, and inspired by a friend, we decided we wanted to find these incredible ancient memorials for ourselves.
There aren’t many way-markers along the route and although you park in the Balmoral Castle car park, you soon part from the tourists and find yourself off the beaten track. The paths venture deep into the forest and we saw very few other walkers, which at times felt like a familiar horror movie plot line. Fortunately, we were well prepared and saved some basic (but thankfully) accurate directions from the Walk Highlands website. The grounds are out of bounds at certain times of year when the Royal Family are in residence so check this before you go.
The cairns are rounded cone shaped structures made up of big lumps of granite, each dedicated to a particular Royal or Royal event. We stumbled upon some of them along the path, however, we followed the directions, sometimes completely ‘off the beaten track’ to find others.
On the drive from Aberdeen we grabbed a couple of homemade Lamb and prune pies from the Park Shop near Banchory. We saved them to enjoy while taking in the view from the ‘Purchase Cairn’, erected in 1852 to mark the purchase of the estate by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
After a long walk and another slog up a steep hill, the Balmoral Pyramid did not disappoint. The massive, imposing structure seems completely out of place as you emerge from the forest but as you look across the views over the dramatic landscape it suddenly looks right at home.