The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

King of the hills: Discover Charles’s

How to tackle famous peak in the heart of royal country

- By Robert Wight

Few Scottish mountains are as famous as Lochnagar, immortalis­ed in verse as Dark Lochnagar by Lord Byron – presumably because the precipitou­s cliffs of its vast northern corrie rarely see sun, even in summer.

The mountain lies entirely within the royal family’s Balmoral Estate in the Southern Cairngorms, which was purchased by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1852, having been leased since 1848.

The royal family continue to holiday at Balmoral every summer, and Lochnagar is said to be King Charles’ favourite mountain. He famously wrote the kids’ book The Old Man Of Lochnagar, based on a tale he made up to entertain his younger brothers when they were children, and a print of one of his paintings of the mountain raised thousands at a wildlife charity auction in 2017. It’s also not unknown for hillwalker­s to meet the new King on the hill when the royals are in residence.

The great sweep of cliffs of Lochnagar’s northern corrie are a popular climbing venue.

It has a number of summer rock routes, but it’s in winter that it really comes into its own – there are dozens of climbs of all grades.

When I interviewe­d Sir Chris Bonington, veteran of the Eiger, Everest and a near-fatal experience on the Ogre, he told me the only time he really thought he was going to die was on Lochnagar. He was making a winter ascent with his brother in 2000. His brother fell, hauling Sir Chris off an insecure belay. Protection he’d placed lower down held, but as he fell he had time to think – I’m done for!

A great Munro-bagger route is a complete circuit of the five White Mounth Munros – Lochnagar, Carn a’ Choire Bhoidheach, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, Cairn Bannoch and Broad Cairn. It’s not as strenuous as it sounds – in fact, I don’t think you’ll find an “easier” five-Munro circuit. Take in Lochnagar first – once the initial ascent is out the way the rest of the day is like a highlevel moorland walk.

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 ?? ?? Robert Wight’s Explore The Munros is available from dcthomsons­hop., priced £16.99
Robert Wight’s Explore The Munros is available from dcthomsons­hop., priced £16.99

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