The Balmoral pyramid

Today is the first day we’ve been allowed to leave Aberdeen after almost 4 months of lockdown. It was Boxing Day 2020 when all of Scotland was put into lockdown. Nearly 4 months later restrictions are starting to lift and we’re allowed to leave the city for exercise and mental health but still cannot stay anywhere else overnight.

I respect the decision to remove our freedom of movement and close all the shops in the interests of public health but find it odd that I can go to the dry cleaners – as they’ve been open throughout – yet I have been unable to walk up a hill in the countryside. It’s important for our physical and mental health to get out into nature for exercise and this usually requires leaving the city. Four months of this twice in one year has got very tiresome.

I am less optimistic about the vaccination program than I was a month or even a week ago. Chile has vaccinated a large proportion of the population – almost 40% have received one dose – and yet they are experiencing a surge in infections. Then there’s the Brazilian variant which appears to be targeting young people with intensive care units half filled with under-40s. I don’t doubt that the vaccines will make a significant difference but we’re not out of the woods yet. I suspect this pandemic will go on for years to come with varying degrees of restrictions that come and go. I’m sorry if I sound like a doomsdayer. I think I’m just being realistic.

Despite my doom and gloom projections, today was splendid. It’s my third year anniversary working with Creative Force and we get our anniversary as a day off. This was very timely with the release of our imprisonment in Aberdeen and also the last day of the school holidays for the kids. We were meant to go away on holiday last week but that got cancelled and so I worked all week instead and the kids really didn’t do much for their school holidays. Today we made up for it by taking off to Aberdeenshire, getting lunch, and walking up to Prince Albert’s pyramid (also called a cairn).

It’s fitting that we visited a Prince Consort’s cairn, the day before the funeral of another Prince Consort. We didn’t got there for this reason though. We just love this walk and it happens to be well-placed for the Highlanders Bakehouse Café where we get lunch. They’re only open for takeaway but that was fine with us. We like to eat our lunch in the forest anyway.

The café sells hot drinks, bread, scones, cakes, and hot food. We get burgers and cake and take it with us on our walk which starts almost directly opposite the café. The X on the map below marks the café. The road leading to the walk to Albert’s pyramid is marked with an arrow.

Walk all the way along the road until you get to the suspension bridge over the River Dee and cross over.

Stop and admire the view of the river.

On the other side of the river turn right then take the first left up the hill towards Lochnagar Distillery.

At the first cross-roads go right across a bridge over a small stream.

After the bridge turn left immediately and walk up the hill. You’ll pass houses and the road will wind around to the right for a bit then straighten up. The path into the woods and up to the pyramid is on the left and opposite a grand granite home.

Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest child, has a cairn part-way up to commemorate her marriage to Prince Henry of Battenberg.

We had lunch in the woods not far past this point.

Here’s Daniel tucking into his burger enthusiastically.

The café makes vegan burgers and vegan cakes. This is my lunch.

Sitting in the forest and hearing the sounds of the natural world I felt a sense of peace and calm. I think it’s the absence of car noises that I find really uplifting. Car sounds and smells are stressful and unpleasant which makes regular escapades into the forest all the more soothing. We did our bit and took one of the electric cars in the co-wheels fleet so as to minimise our impact on sound and noise pollution. I can’t wait until everyone has electric cars.

It’s only about a half hour walk to the pyramid and it appears through the trees like an alien spaceship in a Doctor Who episode.

Ben couldn’t come with us as he had to work today so Elizabeth took the jumping pic for me.

I got this good one of Daniel attempting to climb the side.

There’s a nice view at the top and we sat and ate cake. My vegan chocolate cake:

9 thoughts on “The Balmoral pyramid”

  1. Lovely pictures. I think you are right about the outdoors and last year’s reduction in cases over the summer seems to point at outdoor activities being less problematic than people indoors close to each other.
    I was pleased that Boris has said that people still need to be sensible, despite the vaccine success, and that he is standing up to the extremists in his party who are always complaining about the lockdown measures. The likely reality of this situation staying with us is hitting me this week too, as I had thought of this as something that could be over in 18 months from the outset. But with many countries unable to get it under control, it is bound to circulate back round to others without constant vigilance.
    Appreciating what we do have is my way of coping, and sharing your pictures certainly helps with that.

    1. Yes, I’m glad Boris seems to be taking it seriously. I think we should go further though and have hotel quarantine for all international arrivals, regardless of which country they’ve come from. This is the way South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand have managed to keep numbers down. I can’t see any way around that. Last summer a heap of people went to Spain for their holiday and then brought the virus back with them. By September we were in trouble again. I do hope it’s different this year but it’s definitely not going to be over anytime soon.

      As you say, enjoying what we do have is all the more important and I will definitely make the most of our new found freedom over the coming weeks and months.

      1. Yes, among the various failed attempts among different countries, that seems one of the few successful ways of keeping the numbers of cases down. China too – you get whisked away to quarantine as soon as you land. That’s a huge country – if they can do it we should be able to.

      2. Yes, China too. Their achievement is all the more remarkable when you consider the virus began there and also how populous it is.

  2. This is absolutely fascinating as I had never heard of the pyramid or cairns before. I did a little googling but couldn’t find out when that land was opened up to the public to hike and visit. Or has it always been open to the public? Very cool. thanks for sharing!

    1. These walks have always remained open to the public. They’re part of the Balmoral Estate. We just weren’t able to drive there to go for the walk until today.

  3. That first taste of freedom is exquisite, isn’t it? I know we haven’t been in lockdown here, but I do remember the
    bliss of my first walk along the beach when we came out of our initial level 4 lockdown. I hear about the resurgence of the virus in different places around the world, and also wonder how long we will be battling this. NZ and Australia’s borders open up to each other on Monday, so I expect we’ll see more community cases after that.

    1. It’s good that there’ll at least be a travel corridor between NZ and Australia. Australian still aren’t allowed to leave their country so this will probably be particularly good for them.

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