Youngsters from across Moray undertook a gruelling adventure challenge in celebration of a local milestone.
Pupils from Gordonstoun and seven other secondaries made the mammoth trek from Balmoral Castle to the private school to mark the 60th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.
The programme is the brainchild of former Gordonstoun principal Kurt Hahn, and was pioneered at Elgin Academy.
Yesterday, the group of weary but excited teenagers finished the last leg of the challenge and arrived at the gates of Gordonstoun.
They were greeted at the school by alumni who had completed their Duke of Edinburgh’s award there when it was launched six decades ago.
Jonnie Usher, 76, won the prize when it was known as the Moray Badge.
He said: “It’s simply astonishing what they have achieved, and I am very touched that I was asked to be part of it.”
The challenge involved four legs, spread across Saturday and Sunday.
Pupils set off from the Aberdeenshire royal residence on mountain bikes through the Cairngorms to Tomintoul.
Participants then trekked to a camp near Deskie, by Ballindalloch, and cycled along the Speyside Way to Aberlour.
Elgin Academy 15-year-old Conan Smith took part in the cycling challenge and said the hardest part was having to power his bike across rivers.
His 14-year-old schoolmate, Gregor Coulson, added: “The toughest part for me was going up Carn Daimh, near Tomintoul, but there was a great sense of achievement when we reached the top.”
Youngsters then jumped aboard Canadian canoes to paddle down the River Spey to Fochabers.
Elgin High School 14-year-olds Kayla Sinclair and Passion Boyter took part in the final part of the journey, walking from Fochabers along the Moray coastline to Gordonstoun.
Kayla said the 15-mile trek was “definitely a challenge”.
And Passion added: “The best bit was that we were all in it together, we never stopped talking.”
At the end of the trek, the children were piped from the north gates by 15-year-old Gordonstoun pupil Henry King, to a ceremony on the south lawn where their efforts were celebrated.
Lord Lieutenant of Moray Grenville Johnston read a letter from Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, congratulating the youngsters on their efforts.
Gordonstoun principal Simon Reid added that the occasion was “an anniversary Moray should be proud of”.
The awards programme was first known as the Moray Badge when it originated in 1936, and 20 years later the Duke of Edinburgh attached his name to it.
Since then it has expanded to become a UK-wide charity and global organisation encompassing 140 countries and two million participants.
Gordonstoun also staged its annual Junior Highland Games at the weekend, with hundreds of visitors transforming its grounds into a hive of activity on Saturday.
The 27th annual running of the event took place on the Junior School’s playing field, and brought together 11 local teams from across Moray to compete in a series of adult-style Highland Games contests against children from all over Scotland.
Competitions included caber tossing, haggis hurling, piping, pipe drumming, Highland dancing, Scottish country dancing and tug o’ war.
Youngsters from Anderson’s Primary School in Forres triumphed in the juniors section, beating children from Edinburgh’s Erskine Stewart’s Melville School into second place and Elgin’s St Sylvester Primary pupils into third.
Edinburgh’s Merchiston Castle School took top honours in the senior category, with Gordonstoun Junior School and Moray Sea Cadets following.
All proceeds raised from the games go towards local charities and this year’s beneficiaries are the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children group and Stepping Stones children’s poverty organisation.