secret Scottish pyramid
Europe,  scotland

The Secret Scottish Pyramid in Cairngorms National Park

Tourists flock to Scotland for its famous crumbling castles, challenging mountain ranges and glorious green landscapes. But something you wouldn’t expect to see hiding amongst the forests of this little Northern European country is a triangular shrine dedicated to the loved one of Queen Victoria; a secret Scottish pyramid!

I first heard about the pyramid in Scotland whilst digging around for some off-the-beaten-track style places to hit up on my next trip North. This large monument is actually one of eleven Scottish cairns (man-made pile of stones) commemorating members of the British royal family. Prince Albert’s cairn (the largest) was built after his death in 1861 and now stands proudly on a hilltop overlooking the seemingly endless forest below.

Scottish pyramid

How to get to the Balmoral pyramid

The clue is in the name. Don’t do what I first tried to do and Google the closest road to the pyramid. This’ll take you on a wild road trip that bolts an unnecessary extra hours’ worth of driving onto your journey. Instead, head to the car park at Balmoral Castle.

forest walk scotland

Whilst everyone else makes their way into the Scottish home of the royal family, cross the bridge and follow the road around to the left (B976). Passing the perfectly trimmed greens of the estate’s golf course, you’ll soon come to an uphill right turn that points you in the direction of the Royal Lochnagar Distillery.

One of the best walks in the Cairngorms National Park

This road climbs for a short time before splitting into 3, at which point you’ll head to the right (not the distillery route). Over the small bridge, take the left road past a row of pretty stone houses until you reach a small guard post. From here, the guard pointed us up the woodland path on the left. This forest path will lead you past one of the smaller cairns, and all the way to the top of the hill.  Here you’ll find Prince Albert’s cairn. This walking route is one of the most beautiful (and peaceful) in the Cairngorms, with a few natural stop points along the way to allow rest from the uphill climb. The route can be slippery during wet weather, so be sure to bring good footwear.

small cairn balmoral

Looking for other unusual places to see in Scotland? My post about the Isle of Arran highlights a tiny storage container church and ancient standing stones. Exploring the North of Scotland? Take a look at my new post-Covid guide to the North Coast 500 – including accommodation, things to do and prices.

Travel writer, marketing adviser and blogger based in Edinburgh, with a focus on budget and vegan travel. 39 countries to date, with extensive knowledge of travel within Asia, particularly within Thailand.


  • Camilla

    Hi, and thanks for a great article. How long does the hike from the car park and up to the pyramid take?
    All the best,

    • Sarah

      Thanks Camilla! It was a fair walk. We left the car at the main palace car park and walked all the way around past it. The road around took a good 20 mins or so itself. The path vears up from a little wooden stop post on the right hand side of the road (where a really helpful man pointed us up the way). From there it took about 30-40 mins to trek through the woods up to the pyramid. This walk can actually be fleshed into a full hike as there is an enormous trail, but we were on a time limit.

      • Camilla Espelid

        Thanks Sarah for the quick reply! This sounds great! I do a lot of hiking so this will be perfect!

          • Sarah


            I didn’t scope camp areas out myself, however, as per the Land Reform Scotland Act 2003, wild camping is permitted as long as it is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for a few nights in one place. It should not be in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and well away from any buildings, roads or historic structures (including the pyramid).
            There are ample places on the actual Balmoral Estate where you could wild camp (as per above). For obvious security purposes, you won’t be allowed to camp near royal residences.

        • Random

          If you “do a lot of hiking” then why asking how long will it take to hike there? Shame on you.. lol

          • Sarah

            Without wanting to cause a fuss, would it not just be so they can plan for arrival/weather etc? Scotland is quite unpredictable.

  • Ontheroadagaintravels

    Wish we had read this before trying to find it! Took us forever. Definitely use this guide next time 🙂

  • Paula

    This is definitely somewhere I need to visit at some point… although it may be a little further than I generally care to walk 🤣

    • Rosemarie

      Question: Can we park the car at the point the woodland road starts? Or is there no carpark at this point? We will walk with kids that are not likely to hike for a long time 😉

      • Sarah

        Hi there 🙂
        Yes, it’s a fair walk unfortunately 🙁
        The parking up at the Lochnagar Distillery is a little bit shorter, though I’m not sure if they monitor guest check-ins. When we were there, the right junction that leads you up to the path was built up with mostly residential parking. We didn’t want to gamble it in a bid to respect the locals.

        • Rosemarie

          Thanks! We’ll park at the carpark at the entrance of the castle I think. Thanks for the info.

  • Lukasz Skorupka

    Right! Im going to find this Pyramid this time 🙂 Probably Sunday or Monday 26th-27th of June. Will walk early morning and shoot some videos on the way then will post a video on my yt channel, thanks Sarah for great description of area. 🙂

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