The Balmoral Pyramid, also known as Prince Alberts Cairn, is a large memorial near Balmoral Castle in memory of Prince Albert. This structure is a popular site for tourists to visit whilst in the Cairngorms National Park due to the pleasant walk and fantastic views from the top.
There are actually 11 concrete mounds commemorating the Royal Family, however Price Albert’s is the largest situated at the top of the hill, making it the most well known.
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The Balmoral Pyramid - A Complete Guide to Visiting Prince Alberts Cairn
You wouldn’t expect to see structures like the Egyptian Pyramids in Scotland right? That is why this place is so popular, it is such a unique sight to see in the Cairngorms National Park. In this guide, we will discuss the best time to go to the Balmoral Pyramid as well as the following
- What is the Balmoral Pyramid?
- Where is the Balmoral Pyramid?
- How to get to the Balmoral Pyramid?
- Why Should I go to the Balmoral Pyramid?
- When Should I go to the Balmoral Pyramid?
- Preparing for your trip to the Cairngorms.
What is the Balmoral Pyramid?
The Balmoral Pyramid is a concrete structure built in memory of Prince Albert, also known as Prince Albert’s Cairn. There are actually 11 cairns in Balmoral, all built by Queen Victoria in memory of members of the Royal Family. Prince Albert’s Cairn is the largest and therefore the most popular as it sits at the top of a hill with a magnificent view over the Cairngorm National Park.
Queen Victoria built the Prince Albert Cairn was in 1862 after her beloved Prince Albert passed away. This pyramid measures 12 metre squared and was erected using granite.
The other 10 cairns in the Balmoral Estate commemorate the marriages of Queen Victoria’s children including Princess Royal, Prince Albert Edward, Princess Alice, Princess Helena, Princess Louise, Prince Arthur, Prince Leopold, and Princess Beatrice.
Where is the Balmoral Pyramid?
The Balmoral Pyramid is located in the Balmoral Estate near Balmoral Castle, which is home to the Queen during the summer. It sits around 10 minutes outside of the small town of Ballater on the eastern side of the Cairngorms. The walk to the pyramids is accessible by foot all year round.
The Balmoral Estate offers miles of beautiful grounds ready to be explored when you visit the historical cairns. There are two walking routes to the cairns which we will go into more detail on below.
How to get to the Balmoral Pyramid?
Parking is available at Crathie Tourist Information and costs £5 for a car and £10 for a motorhome. If you are using Maps, use this postcode to find the parking AB35 5TB.
There are two walking routes to reach Prince Alberts Cairn, depending on how much time you are wanting to spend here.
- The direct walk to Prince Albert’s Cairn
- A full circular walk of all of the Balmoral Cairns
This direct walk to the Prince Alberts Cairn takes around 30 minutes up steep terrain. The walk is peaceful, through woodland therefore we would recommend wearing comfortable boots in case it is muddy or slippy underfoot. The path to the top is reasonably straightforward and well signposted.
When you reach the top, you won’t be able to miss the Balmoral Pyramid. Enjoy the incredible panoramic views across the Cairngorms National Park from the top.
The route we took to access the Balmoral Pyramid directly is as follows.
- We crossed over the green bridge across the River Dee. We then followed the road left at the gates to Balmoral Castle. Continue to follow the road, passing the highland cows in the field on your right.
- Turn right when you see the sign for Royal Lochnagar Distillery and follow the road up the hill. When you see a small bridge on your right hand side, follow it across and then turn immediately left.
- When you see the sign for Prince Alberts Cairn, follow it through the gate and up the steep hill. You will be rewarded with incredible views when you reach the top.
For the circular walk, you will continue the route you took to get to Prince Alberts Cairn, and don’t turn back on yourself on the way down. Continue through the woodland until you reach the road.
We would suggest allowing 2 hours for the circular walk to allow you plenty of time to take photos.
Due to the Queen staying at Balmoral Castle during August/September, the circular walk is closed during this time. You can, however, still walk the direct route to Prince Alberts Cairn.
Why Should I go to the Balmoral Pyramid?
The walk up to Balmoral Pyramid is a lovely way to see the forestry around the eastern side of the Cairngorms National Park. This is also a significant part of Scottish history. On a clear day, the views from the top of Price Alberts Cairn are panoramic and you won’t be disappointed.
When Should I visit the Balmoral Pyramid?
The best time to visit the Balmoral Pyramid is on a dry day as the forestry path up to the pyramid can become muddy and boggy underfoot. We visited on a crisp Autumn day and the colours through the forest leading up to the Cairngorms were a beautiful shade of orange. When you arrive at the Balmoral Pyramid you can stop and have. a picnic with the beautiful views if the weather is dry.
Before You Leave for The Cairngorms
Before you head off on your trip to the Cairngorms, there are certain things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth trip. These include how to get around the route, including being aware of single track roads, etc., what to pack for Scotland, where to stay along the route and what travel insurance to book.
How Do I Get to the Cairngorms?
Aviemore has become the hub of the Highlands, with many people visiting all year round. The easiest way to get to Aviemore would be to drive as that will make it easier to get around when you get there. However there is always the option of getting public transport. Both trains and buses stop in Aviemore.
If you are looking to rent a cosy, reliable and luxurious campervan for your trip to Aviemore, we highly recommend hiring through Bunk Campers. We toured with these guys around the up-and-coming Heart 200 road trip in Scotland’s central highlands and could not believe the comfort and customer service we experienced with their vans.
What Should I Pack for the Cairngorms?
When it comes to packing for a trip to the Cairngorms there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your trip to Aviemore you will probably experience at least a drizzle of rain. Due to this, the number one item on any Scotland packing list is a good waterproof jacket. If you are travelling in winter to Aviemore, it is also highly likely you will experience snow so we would recommend packing plenty warm clothing and waterproof shoes.
As for the rest of the year, the temperature in Scotland and the central heartlands is reasonably mild for most of the year. During the winter months, you will most likely experience snow, however, temperatures usually sit around freezing, so it is not too cold. For your reference, the average temperatures in Scotland are listed below during each season.
Spring (March, April, May) – 5-10 degrees C
Summer (June, July, August) – 15 degrees C
Autumn (September, October, November) – 5-10 degrees C
Winter (December, January, February) – 0-5 degrees C
As you can see, the weather never really gets above the teens, with anything over 25 degrees C considered a heatwave. The best way to pack for your trip to the highlands is with layers that can be added and removed as you need them. You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the colder months and will most likely need sunscreen to protect you on the long days in the open.
Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Scotland, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.
Where Should I Stay in the Cairngorms?
There are many accommodation options in the Cairngorms, the ones recommended below are in Aviemore. Due to how busy this small town is, we would recommend booking in advance.
Luxury – MacDonald Morlich Hotel is a beautiful hotel in the Cairngorm National Park with 7 bars and restaurants on site as well as leisure facilities. There is even an onsite cinema and a championship golf course nearby.
Mid-range – The Cairngorm Hotel is located in the heart of Aviemore and is perfect if you are wanting to stay local to bars and restaurants in the town. Each morning a full is available to guests and there is a bar and restaurant onsite for your needs.
Budget – The Aviemore Youth Hostel is situated in the town of Aviemore and in the perfect location for a walk into town or a walk to the mountains. There is a range of facilities including private rooms and dorms, a lounge area and a self-catering kitchen.
What is the Best Travel Insurance?
No matter what type of adventure you are heading on, whether it is a mountain adventure or a relaxing beach destination, one thing we all need to be aware of is that accidents can happen. The last thing you want is for an unexpected medical emergency to ruin your trip of a lifetime. Luckily, that is what travel insurance is for.
Whenever we travel abroad, we get covered with World Nomad’s Travel Insurance, a reliable, friendly and extremely affordable method of covering yourself on any adventure. With years of experience working for backpackers around the globe, the service they provide is perfect for whatever type of trip you have planned.
So there you have it, a guide to the Balmoral Pyramid. If you have visited the Cairngorms recently, let us know what you thought of it. If you have any suggestions let us know in the comments below.
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