William and Kate beat Charles with three-hour trek to Tiger's Nest monastery


The Duke of Cambridge proved he has more of a head for heights than his father when he completed the challenge of trekking up to Bhutan's famous Tiger's Nest monastery.

William and wife Kate walked hand in hand for part of the 1,500ft (900m) hike to one of the most venerated Buddhist sites in the Himalayas.

After the three-hour adventure the Duke confessed "it was quite tough on the way up" and, thinking of her figure, the Duchess joked: "It's a great way to burn off the curry."

The Prince of Wales only made it to the halfway point when he visited Bhutan in 1998 and took the opportunity to do some watercolour painting.

With the 17th century building standing 3,000ft (900m) above the valley floor, Charles decided not to venture to the monastery built into a cliff face.

He said at the time: "I don't think I'm going to risk that cliff. The older I get, the more vertigo I get - even at the top of minarets in Istanbul."

William and Kate's path up to the Tiger's Nest led through a pine forest on the slopes of the hill, with piles of symbolic stones dotted along the route.

The Duchess was dressed in a white blouse, leather jerkin, leggings and calf-length boots, while William looked casual in chinos and a blue shirt and walking boots.

They wore sunglasses against the bright spring sunshine and, when they spotted a trio of small ornate buildings housing large Buddhist prayer wheels beside a babbling brook, William pointed at them and commented to Kate.

The royal couple held hands and looked relaxed as they walked along the winding path through the idyllic landscape.

At the halfway point the Duke looked slightly more flushed than his wife and wiped the sweat from his brow.

And when they reached a vantage point at the summit which overlooks the Tiger's Nest monastery, Kate could not hide her excitement and said: "Wow, that's amazing", while William admired the architecture: "Look at the roof, it's cool. What a great view."

As they started the final approach, down 1,000 steps and across a bridge over a yawning chasm, the waiting monks struck up a musical welcome, chanting and playing bells, cymbals and trumpets.

Sonam Penjor, 34, who works in the Bhutan information department, said: "Prince Charles came here before in 1998, but he only made it to the cafeteria, the halfway point. So he took some nice shots but he was not able to come to this point.

"Maybe the altitude affected him. I think his son and daughter-in-law wanted to beat him.

"They wanted to recapture his father's memories but go further. And maybe later George and Charlotte will come to follow in their parents' footsteps."

The monastery, close to the city of Paro, is near the cave where Guru Padmasambhava - who is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan - is said to have meditated for three years, three months, three weeks and three days in the 8th century.

The monastery partially burnt down in 2008 and took two years to rebuild, with workmen hauling materials up the mountain with steel cables.