Most people in Scotland will have heard of Balmoral Castle and will know that the Royal Family holiday there every year however not many people know that you can walk on the grounds of the castle. The most popular walk is the Balmoral Cairns route. This walk takes in a number of cairns Queen Victoria had built in honour of her family members and royal events such as when the Victoria and Albert bought the estate in 1852.
The biggest and most well known cairn is the Prince Albert Cairn also known as The Pyramid. In 1862 Prince Albert died at the age of 42 and it is said that the queen never got over his death and from that day on she always dressed in black.
The cairn sits atop a steep hill but is worth the climb as on a good day you can see over Royal Deeside and beyond.
It is a huge cairn built in the shape of a pyramid and measures 41 feet by 41 feet. The inscription on the plaque reads:
“To the beloved memory of Albert, the great and the good Prince Consort. Erected by his broken-hearted widow, Victoria R. 21st August 1863.”
As I mentioned above there are cairns marking royal events and one such event was the marriage of Princess Alice and Prince Louis of Hesse Darmstadt in 1862. Prince Louis was a German royal and after the marriage Alice moved to Prussia to live.
Princess Alice died in 1878 aged 35 years when she and most of her family caught diphtheria. Her daughter Marie also died from the illness. Weirdly Alice died on the 14th of December, the same date that her father had died 17 years earlier.
Depending on your route the Princess Beatrice Cairn will be either the first or the last cairn you see. This cairn again was built to mark a royal marriage, Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry of Battenberg in 1885.
Victoria Princess Royal was the oldest of Queen Victoria’s children and married German Emperor Frederick III and the cairn was built to celebrate their marriage.
This cairn sits high on a ridge overlooking Balmoral Castle and has great views north. Out of all the cairns this one was the most difficult out of all the cairns to find but it was well worth the trek for the views. I was also fortunate enough to see, close up, a stag with full antlers. However once he saw me he bolted into the dark dense forest.
Within the estate there many others walks and I stumble upon one when looking for the Princess Royal Cairn. The walk was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth as Commander in Chief of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and a bench to rest your weary bones for a few minutes came in handy.
None of the cairns have visual markers and without a walk route map they can be difficult to find. On a few occasions I was stopped by fellow walkers and asked do you know where such and such a cairn is?
The route I followed was this one CLICK
The day I visited it was a lovely sunny day and a lot of walkers decided this was the perfect day to see the Balmoral Cairns. Some of the walkers were well equipped for walking in what was a muddy forest while others had the customary white trainers.