Go Ape! A Tarzan Experience In Aberfoyle

I came across this amazing zip line-experience and wanted to share it with you. It is located in Aberfoyle in the Lomond & Trossachs National Park. There are two zip wires and a Go Ape! course that sound like great fun. I wanted to find out more about it, so I had a look at YouTube where I found the following video that gives you a good idea of what to expect on the zip line:

Not bad, is it?

Here is a summary of all the activities you can do at Go Ape!:

  • Zip-wire through the trees
  • Climb a 40 feet rope-ladder
  • Cross high wire rope-bridges
  • Crawl through tunnels
  • Swing like Tarzan into a giant ropenet

If you plan a family trip, keep in mind the following restrictions:

  • Minimum age: 10 years
  • Minimum height: 1.40 metres
  • Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult
  • An adult can supervise up to five 16-17 years old or two younger children

The pricing is not cheap, but it is estimated that you spend about three hours on the course:

  • over 18 year-olds (Gorillas): £30.00
  • 10 – 17 year-olds (Baboons): £20.00

So if you decide to give it a try, her are the opening times:

  • 13th February – 21st February (closed on Tuesday 16th)
  • from 27th February – 21st March: Weekends only
  • 26th March – 31st October: daily except on Tuesdays

I wanted to include a link to their homepage, but the page doesn’t load, so to be honest I don’t know if it is a temporary problem or if the business has ceased to exist, which is why I recommend you to search for Go Ape! yourself on the web or try to contact them by phone: 0845 643 9215.

Here is the complete address:

Go Ape! Aberfoyle
David Marshall Lodge
Queen Elizabeth Forest Park

I haven’t done it myself, but if you have, please tell us about the experience and if you reckon it is worth the money!

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Essential Equipment to Pack

When you go walking in the Scottish outdoors, you will always have to ask yourself an important question: What shall I bring with me? Of course the answer will depend on many factors: Are you planning a one day or multiple day excursion? Do you stay in a tent, and if yes, on a campsite or out in the wild? What climatic conditions can you expect? Do you need to bring all your food or is there a place to get provisions? Try to plan ahead as much as possible, and try to anticipate potential problems.

The tricky thing is to find a balance between a reasonable weight to carry, comfort and safety. There is a difference between essential and useful items. The following list gives you some tips on how to decide what to bring:


    02Compass baseplate 2010-03-09

    Compass Baseplate

  • A map of the area where you are going
  • Compass
  • Water bottle with one liter of liquid
  • Torch
  • A whistle to draw somebody’s attention in an emergency
  • Multitool or pen-knife
  • A watch
  • Emergency food like dried fruit, energy bars, etc.
  • Plastic bags for rubbish or additional water proof
  • Spare batteries
  • A lighter

If you don’t have a sleeping bag or a tent with you, bring a survival blanket or a bivi bag for emergency shelter. Also, make sure that you know how to use your compass and how to read your map.

Other useful items include:

Garmin Edge 705


  • A camera
  • A notebook and a pen
  • Walking pole(s)
  • Sun glasses
  • Mobile phone (although often you won’t receive a signal)

A GPS can be extremely helpful, but make sure you know how to use it properly!


  • A good quality tent: You don’t want to get wet in heavy rain or get blown away in a stormy night. Preferably with a fly-screen against the midges.
  • Sleeping Bag: A light sleeping bag will only be useful in warm summer conditions, whereas a three-season bag will be appropriate in most conditions and is worth the extra weight.
  • Sleeping Mat: Thermarest mats are comfortable and self-inflating, but closed-cell foam mats also do the job.
  • Cooking equipment: A gas stove is the usual choice. Bring a spare bottle, along with a set of pans (they can be used as plates and bowls), and a knife, spoon and fork.
  • Water proof cover or water proof lining. Alternatively, pack clothes in plastic bags.



Band Aid

These items should never be missing in a kit:


  • Band aids for cuts and abrasions
  • “Compeed” or a similar product for blisters
  • Aspirin and paracetamol for pain relief and fever
  • A triangular bandage for injuries
  • Sterile dressings for wounds
  • An elastic knee support
  • Scissors, tweezers, antiseptic cream, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tapes, safety pins

It is a good idea to keep the kit in a waterproof container.


  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Toilet paper
  • Soap
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Sanitary towels
  • Insect repellent  (in the summer)
  • Sun cream (also in winter)
  • A small spade to dispose of feces

Water purification tablets can be useful, although as long as you make sure to drink running water coming down a hillside you shouldn’t have a problem.

Any other tips? Please leave a comment!

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The Outer Hebrides

The Outer Hebrides is a chain of islands off the west coast of Scotland. They comprise the following main isles: Lewis and Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, and Barra.

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Beach, Grescleit. View North To Griomabhal In The Uig Hills Of Lewis.


There are 15 inhabited and more than 50 uninhabited islands, and the total population of the Outer Hebrides is approximately 26,500.

They are a perfect destination if you like solitude, deserted beaches and unspoilt nature. The Gulf Stream helps with the climatic conditions: In spite of the cool temperature climate due to the northerly latitude, the climate on the isles is surprisingly mild.

Here is a short description of the main isles:

Lewis and Harris:

This island if often referred to as two separate islands, although they are connected by a land border. It is the northernmost of the island chain. The largest settlement of the whole Outer Hebrides is Stornoway, located on Lewis, the northern part of the island. Main attractions include the Callanish standing stones and the many sandy beaches. On the nearby island of Great Bernera you can visit an Iron Age village alongside a wonderful beach. It can be reached in less than three hours by ferry from Ullapool. On the southern, Harris part of the island you will find a rocky east coast and lovely, deserted beaches on the west coast. Harris is a lot more mountainous than Lewis, and Clisham, the Outer Hebrides’ only Corbett with a height of 799 metres, is situated here. It’s where the famous Harris Tweed is manufactured.

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Outer Hebrides: Unspoilt Sand Dunes and Beach


North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist:

This group of islands is often collectively called “The Uists”. The western part of these islands is dominated by sandy beaches and areas of machair, a fertile grassy plain that can be cultivated, whereas the eastern parts are mountainous. Beinn Mhòr is the highest mountain of the island with a height of 620 metres.


This small island at the far south of the Outer Hebrides is a very popular destination. Like the rest of the isles, white sandy beaches with areas of machair prevail on the west coast while you can find many rocky inlets on the east coast. To the south of the island lies Vatersay, an even smaller adjacent island that is connected to Barra by a causeway. On Barra, The Gaelic language is predominant.

South Uist machair (timniblett)

Flowering Machair With The Hills Of South Uist In The Background


No matter which of the islands you visit, they are all places of outstanding beauty and tranquility that allow you to relax and recuperate from busy city life.

Which is your favourite Outer Hebrides island? I would love to read a comment from you!

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Scottish Mountains

Scottish mountains have a curious system of being catalogued according to their height.

The highest mountains are called Munros, after Sir Hugh Munro who measured all Scottish mountains back in 1891 and listed them in the so called Munros Tables. In order to make the list, a mountain needs to pass the 3000 feet mark (914.4 metres). Over the years these tables have suffered various modifications. At the moment, the Scottish Mountaineering Club grants 283 mountains the honour of being a Munro. There are also 227 additional “Tops”, peaks that fulfill the height criteria, but are part of a ridge or a range and too close to a Munro for being counted as a separate mountain. The activity of climbing all of the Munros is called “Munrobagging”, a popular sport in Scotland.

Ben Nevis

Munro: Carn Dearg (1221 m), The North-West Top Of Ben Nevis, Above A Cloud Inversion


If a mountain is less than 3000 feet but more than 2500 feet (762 metres) high, it is called a Corbett. The Corbett list includes 221 mountains. Apart from their height, another parameter for a Corbett is to have a re-ascent of at least 500 feet on all sides. They owe their name to John Rooke Corbett, a Scottish mountaineer and one of the first climbers to complete all Munros. Corbett-bagging should not be regarded as inferior to Munrobagging. There are many fine mountains among the Corbetts whose ascent is more difficult than a Munro’s. For people who can see beyond the Munros, the Corbetts are definitely worth of a good number of days out.

Loch Blarloch with Foinaven in the background - geograph.org.uk - 92559

Corbetts: Foinaven With Loch Blarloch In The Foreground

Next, there are the Grahams: mountains with heights between 2000 feet (610 metres) and 2499 feet (761 metres). They were formerly known as Elsies (Lower Corbetts, LCs, that’s Scottish humour for you), but were renamed after Fiona Torbet (born Graham), who published her own list of mountains meeting the criteria in 1992. The original list of Elsies and Torbet’s new list were combined into a single list which is today known as Grahams. There are 224 Grahams on the list, including 7 island Grahams.

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View Grahams: Beinn Talaidh At The Head Of Glen Forsa


Finally, there are even more Scottish mountain categories that I want to mention briefly: Donalds, New Donalds and Marilyns. Donalds are basically a collection of Scottish Lowland hills over 2000 feet, named after a list by Percy Donald. However, the criteria were not complicated and not always clear, which is why the New Donalds list came into being, trying to rationalize the criteria. According to the definition, the New Donalds are “hills in Central or Southern Scotland at least 2000 feet high (610m) with a drop of at least 30 metres (98 feet) all round”. A Marilyn is “a hill of any height with a drop of 150 metres (nearly 500 ft) or more on all sides”.  That means that any Munro, Corbett, Graham or Donald can also be a Marilyn. It basically refers to a hill that is relatively high compared to its surroundings. Alan Dawson compiled the list, but decided to name these mountains “Marilyn”, after the more famous Munro list – another example of Scottish humour.

Here are lists of the Top Ten Munros, Corbetts and Grahams. I want to make it clear that these are Top Ten lists in terms of height only, not in terms of beauty or difficulty!

The Ten Highest Munros:

  1. Ben Nevis: 4409 feet or 1344 metres (Ben Nevis Range)
  2. Ben Macdui: 4295 feet or 1309 metres (Cairngorm range)
  3. Braeriach: 4252 feet or 1296 metres (Cairngorm range)
  4. Cairn Toul: 4236 feet or 1291 metres (Cairngorm range)
  5. Sgor an Lochain Uaine: 4236 feet or 1258 metres (Cairngorm range)
  6. Cairngorm: 4081 feet or 1244 metres (Cairngorm range)
  7. Aonach Beag: 4049 feet or 1234 metres (Nevis & Grey Corries range)
  8. Aonach Mor: 4006 feet or 1221 metres (Nevis & Grey Corries range)
  9. Carn Mor Dearg: 4003 feet or 1220 metres (Ben Nevis range)
  10. Ben Lawers: 3983 feet or 1214 metres (Ben Lawers range)

The Ten Highest Corbetts:

  1. Beinn Dearg: 2999 feet or 914 metres (Glen Tromie to Glen Tilt)
  2. Foinaven: 2999 feet or 914 metres (Coigach and Cape Wrath)
  3. Sgurr ‘Choire-bheithe: 2995 feet or 913 metres (Glen Etive to Glen Lochy)
  4. Beinn ‘Bhreac: 2992 feet or 912 metres (Loch Rannoch to Glen Lyon)
  5. Leathad an Taobhain: 2992 feet or 912 metres (Loch Rannoch to Glen Lyon)
  6. The Fara: 2989 feet or 911 metres (Inveraray to Crianlarich)
  7. Beinn Dearg Mor: 2986 feet or 910 metres (Pitlochry to Braemar and Blairgowrie)
  8. Meall Buidhe: 2986 feet or 910 metres (Strathyre to Strathallan)
  9. Beinn nan Oighreag: 2982 feet or 909 metres (Strathyre to Strathallan)
  10. Leum Uilleim: 2982 feet or 909 metres (Inveraray to Crianlarich)

The Ten Highest Grahams:

  1. Beinn Talaidh: 2497 feet or 761 metres (Mull)
  2. Cnoc Coinnich: 2497 feet or 761 metres (Loch Goil to Long Long)
  3. Sgurr ‘Chaorainn: 2497 feet or 761 metres (Strontian, Lochaber)
  4. Beinn ‘Chapull: 2490 feet or 759 metres (Inverinan Forest, Argyll)
  5. Carn an Tionail: 2490 feet or 759 metres (Carn Dearg, Sutherland)
  6. Shee of Ardtalnaig: 2490 feet or 759 metres; (Loch Tay, Perthshire)
  7. Beinn Shiantaidh: 2484 feet or 757 metres (Jura)
  8. Creag Dubh: 2480 feet or 756 metres (Monadhliath range)
  9. Cook’s Cairn: 2477 feet or 755 metres (Blackwater Forest, Moray)
  10. The Stob: 2470 feet or 753 metres (Braes of Balquhidder)

After all this theory, don’t get carried away. Remember what this is all about: Climbing a mountain should be an enjoyable experience: a day out in the nature, a physical exercise and a break from your day to day routine. Don’t become obsessed with “having to” bag this or that mountain or whether the mountain is a Munro, “only” a Corbett or, even “worse”, a Graham.

Please share your experiences about Scottish mountains and hillwalking, I’d love to hear about your stories!

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Food for the Mountains – Dried Cabbage

When you are out in the mountains, fresh food is often a luxury item. Although I have seen gourmet dinners in more than one bothy, keen Munrobaggers usually prefer less weight to fresh food, which is why preserved, dehydrated foods are the usual choice.

So when I stumbled upon Damien Logan’s article on cabbage as a practical fresh food supplement, I had to find out more.

What I didn’t know is the interesting fact that cabbage, when dried, does not lose its crunchiness. This means you get the taste of fresh food that has at the same time all the advantages of light weight dried food.

There are five simple steps you have to follow:

1. Prepare the cabbage for drying

Unless there is a cabbage shredder available in your household, you will have to cut the cabbage by hand. First you quarter the cabbage into wedges that are still connected to the core, then you slice off the core. You can throw it away because it will not be dried. Next, you slice the wedges into strips, rinse them with water and leave them to drip on a towel.

2. Dry the cabbage

You will need a dehydrator. Although you can’t dry a lot of cabbage at a time, it is done quickly. When you remove the strips from the dehydrator, leave them to cool.

3. Store the cabbage

An airtight container is recommended for the dried cabbage. Make sure that the cabbage has cooled off properly and is really dry, otherwise mould might wreck all your efforts.

4. Prepare it for hiking

Place the dried cabbage in a ziplock bag and press out the air, then place the bag in your food sack or backpack.

5. Rehydrate the cabbage

This is really simple. You can add either cold or hot water to the ziplock bag. In cold water it takes about an hour for the cabbage to rehydrate, hot water will do the trick in ten minutes.

Once you drained the water it’s up to you: You can bring a serving packet of mayonaisse, dried carrots, apples or whatever you like and prepare your own coleslaw. Or use it for some extra taste on your cheese sandwich. I’m sure the more gifted food preparers among the readers will come up with more creative ways of making use of this alternative mountain food! Just make sure to share your ideas with me, please!


Photo by BrokenSphere (Own work)
(License: Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Wilderness Walks in Scotland

Scotland is a dream for walkers. If you are interested in long distance walking, you have certainly heard of Scotland’s official long distance routes:

  • The West Highland Way­­
  • The Great Glen Way
  • The Speyside Way
  • The Southern Upland Way
  • The Kintyre Way

Thousands of walkers wander along these routes every year. However, there are other interesting alternatives in the form of wilderness treks where you make your own way through glens and mountains. They are not known widely and therefore less frequented and more isolated, yet worth the adventure.

1. Glen Nevis to Dalwhinnie – 70 km (44 miles)

Glen Nevis 4

Glen Nevis

This trek passes some remote Scottish mountains, Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil that Munrobaggers might want to include in the walk. There are a few bothies on the way at Meannanach, Staoineag and Culra and there is also a hostel at Loch Ossian. You usually won’t encounter too many walkers, and the route can be extended to a coast to coast trek if you are up to it.


2. Aviemore to Kirkton of Glenisla – 75 km (46 miles)

This trek rises in its highest point to over 900 metres. It used to be a drove route and is now one of the most popular Scottish glen walks. The Lairig Ghru, a mountain pass through the Cairngorms, links Aviemore with Braemar. Some people continue the walk to Angus on Jock’s Road, which is another famous right of way: In the late 19th century John Winter (“Jock”) defied a ban that Duncan Macpherson, the rich landowner of the Doll Estate, had put on people traversing his land. Eventually Jock won and The Scottish Right of Way came into existence.

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Tore Hill in the Aviemore Area


3. Rannoch Station to Taynuilt – 75 km (46 miles)

This route starts and finishes at a railway station. It is a classic trek across Rannoch Moor that passes through Glen Kinglass and Glen Etive and follows well-established rights of way over the Black Mount and through the isolated wilderness of Lorn. You get great views of the Glencoe Mountains and can indulge in a lovely decent passing many waterfalls into remote Glen Kinglass or a visit to Loch Dochard.

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Rannoch Moor


4. Inverlael to Bonar Bridge – 53 km (33 miles)

The idea of making a traverse of Scotland from coast to coast certainly has its attractions. This route is one of the shortest coast to coast walks in Scotland. It can be done in one (very long) or two days, thanks to sea lochs cutting deep into the coastline of Easter Ross. The route leads from Loch Broom to the Dornoch Firth through beautiful and remote glens, quiet lochs and peaceful forests.

Loch Broom South Shore

Loch Broom


5. Blair Atholl to Fort Augustus – 100 km (63 miles)

This is quite a historic route that uses two ancient Highland highways: the Minigaig Road and the old Corrieyairack Road. It rises to 762 metres at its highest point and despite zigzag sections built into the steeper bits may not be passable in winter. From Blair Atholl to Kingussie it follows the Minigaig Road before continuing to Fort Augustus on the old Corrieyarack road, an old military road that enabled soldiers to travel faster from Ruthven Barracks near Kingussie to forts in the Great Glen.

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River Garry


Personally, I have only walked bits and pieces of some of these walks. I you have done an entire wilderness walk, please leave a comment for fellow readers!

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Stephen Pyke’s Amazing Munro Record

If you are into climbing Munros like I am, then there is certain news that leaves you stunned. Thanks to another article by Dave Hewitt I have just found out about Steven Pyke, who in June 2010 managed to climb all 284 Munros in 39 days, thus beating the former record of Charlie Campbell by a full nine days!

For many people, climbing all of Scotland’s highest mountains is an achievement that might well take the best part of a lifetime. Stephen Pyke is obviously not one of them. In order to achieve this feat, the ultra-biathlete climbed up to 12 Munros on a single day, and there was no day without a single ascent! Equally amazing, he did not use motorized transport in any form, but cycled or even canoed to bridge the distance between the mountains!

He did have a support team, and it was on his team’s pleasant tasks to deposit a bottle of Singleton on the top of Ben Hope, where Pyke’s race came to an end.

Ben Loyal and Ben Hope, from above Tongue. - geograph.org.uk - 946340

Ben Loyal And Ben Hope


I can only take off my hat to this performance. It is one thing to spend a very long day out in the mountains, and a very different thing to do it again and again and again……and again for 39 consecutive days.

Let’s see how long this record will last. Personally, I think it stands a good chance to continue to exist for quite a while. Pyke was lucky with the weather, having hardly any wet and miserable days, which was an important factor.

Deservedly, Pyke became the Caledonian Mercury Outdoors Person of the Year 2010.

I agree with the author’s opinion that The Sports Personality of the Year award would not have been wasted on him, neither, but that’s not going to happen – hill running is not mainstream enough.

But why don’t you read the full length article for yourself?


And if you want to read what Stephen Pyke himself has to say about his trip, I’ve just found his blog: http://munros2010.blogspot.com/

Please share your thoughts on this incredible feat with your fellow readers and leave a comment!


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5 Things to Do in Scotland

Scotland is a great country, and there are so many things to do that the list could comprise easily 10 or 15 things. However, 5 is a nice number, it’s manageable and you stand a good chance of actually getting the things done. Then of course, you might be interested in completely different things…

Nonetheless, if I was to go to Scotland for the first time, and I had two weeks of holidays, that’s what I would do:

1.       Visit Edinburgh

Edinburgh is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, and there is a reason for it. Apart from a unique history and splendid architecture, Edinburgh is full of life and culture. The city’s atmosphere is fantastic, and if you visit in August, it is even close to impossible: Festival Time in Edinburgh! The Fringe Festival is the biggest arts festival in the world, but there is also the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the International Book Festival, the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, the Edinburgh Mela, the Edinburgh Free Fringe, and even more! You have to see it to believe it.

Old Town Edinburgh

View of the Old Town


2.       Drink Whisky

Scotch whiskies

Scottish Whiskies

This is no secret: Whisky is THE national Scottish drink. There are hundreds of different whiskies, and if you think you don’t like whisky: try it again. There is a whole range of different flavours awaiting your taste buds. Include a visit to a distillery, and if you are really into whisky you might consider including the Whisky trail in Aberdeenshire in your travel plans. Also, there are many pubs that offer an excellent selection of whiskies, many of which are hard to get your hands on abroad, so make good use of your stay.



3.       Climb a Scottish mountain

There is no better way to explore and enjoy Scottish nature than to actually go out there and climb a mountain. Scotland is beautiful if you just drive through it by car, but walking its hills is the real deal. There is no need to make it a full scale mountaineering expedition – there are mountains with different grades of difficulty, and a lot of them can be ascended in a couple of hours. Ben Lomond is a great mountain, very popular, easily accessible and in a beautiful location. There are easily another 500 mountains from which to choose, so there is no excuse… If you really think you are not fit enough to climb a mountain, then you go for a glen (valley) walk. Glen Nevis near Fort William for example allows for a walk in amazing scenery.

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond


4.       Go to a ceilidh

A ceilidh is a traditional Gaelic social gathering with music and dancing. Above all, it is incredible fun. You probably don’t know the dances, but they are usually explained before, especially if there are tourists around. There are pair dances and group dances where you get to dance with different partners all the time. The fiddle starts and a Gaelic folk tune and off you go. In my experience, the atmosphere is relaxed and merry, whereas the dancing can get quite wild and oxygen demanding. It is a great experience, even if you are not a great dancer (like me), and it’s one of the experiences you won’t forget.

5.       Visit the Isle of Skye

Most people will recommend you to tour the Highlands, but my recommendation is to go to Skye. On your way you will see a great deal of the Highlands, and Skye is like the topping on a cake. Skye is part of the Inner Hebrides and is a place of outstanding beauty. Its scenery is spectacular, and the mountains forming the Cuillin Ridge are among the finest, most dramatic and challenging Scottish mountains. You can also find sandy beaches, tiny villages and one of the top Scottish visitor attractions: Dunvegan Castle, seat of the MacLeods and the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland.


Skye View


Ok, so that’s my top 5. Please let me know your personal top 5, I would love to hear from you!

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Antarctic Whisky

A case of whisky which spent more than 100 years buried in the

Shackleton’s South Pole whisky returns to Scotland

A case of whisky which spent more than 100 years buried in the Antarctic has returned to Scotland.

The scotch was buried beneath a hut used by the explorer Ernest Shackleton during his unsuccessful 1907 to 1909 expedition to reach the South Pole.

Five cases were dug up last year, before being carefully thawed by museum officials in New Zealand.

One of these cases – of Mackinlay whisky – has been flown to Scotland.

Distillers Whyte and Mackay, which owns the McKinlay brand, were keen to get hold of a bottle.

The billionaire owner of the Glasgow-based firm, Vijay Mallya, flew a case back to Scotland using his private jet.

Whyte & Mackay’s master blender Richard Paterson will spend up to six weeks in full laboratory conditions analysing the whisky before reporting back to the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Dr Mallya said: “Shackleton made history with his travels and adventures, and I am sure we will make history ourselves when we unlock the marvels of these unique 100-year-old time capsules.”

Mr Paterson added: “It is an absolute honour to be able to use my experience to analyse this amazing spirit for the benefit of the Trust and the whisky industry.”

Shackleton’s expedition to the South Pole, which set off from New Zealand in January 1908, was part of the heroic age of exploration.

Scott was already preparing for his journey to the pole – an objective he reached just after his rival Amundsen in 1912, but which cost Scott his own life and that of four comrades.

Shackleton turned back in time to keep all of his party safe.

“A live donkey is better than a dead lion” was how he summed up his attitude.

The expedition’s ship had left Cape Royds in the Antarctic hurriedly in March 1909 as winter ice began forming in the sea, with some equipment and supplies, including the whisky, left behind.

The bottles are to be eventually returned to Shackleton’s hut, unlikely to ever leave the ice again.

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