Treasure-hunt for whisky galore

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The Independent Online
A Scottish teacher is inviting thousands of people to take part in a treasure-hunt across the Highlands and islands in search of precious golden booty - 1,000 bottles of rare malt whisky, worth at least pounds 30,000.

Richard Henderson has planted clues to the whereabouts of the treasure in a new book about the fictional wanderings of the Prince of Wales. If no one finds it by Christ mas 1999, he intends to invite the treasure- seekers to a millennium Hogmanay to drink the lot.

Mr Henderson, a well-known climber, got the inspiration for his hunt from Kit Williams, whose clues to the location of a golden hare in the early 1980s in his book, Masquerade, had Mr Henderson, and hundreds of others, digging up parts of the countryside for years.

The book, Chasing Charlie, proceeds from which will go to the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust, involves a group of children and their teacher in a search for the lost Loch Arkaig Treasure, a consignment of gold that vanished in 1746. Along the route taken by Bonnie Prince Charlie 250 years ago, they meet a mysterious man, nicknamed Wiggy, who is intended to be the Prince of Wales.

Mr Henderson said: "I wanted to show the deeply personal and kindly side of the Prince. He's such an idealist."

He added: "The hunt for treasure, once begun, gets a strange hold on you. Always, something draws you on; some lilt and splendour - that pro- spect of a moment of discovery, a moment of triumph.

"I thought, well, instead of a hare, my book can be about an heir, and the discerning reader will be drawn by the gleaming lure of whisky."

Mr Henderson wrote to the Prince about his idea and, on learning that malt whisky is the heir's favourite drink, 109 distilleries donated 1,000 bottles including 1948 Strathisla, 30-year Springbank, 1936 Mortlach and 30-year-old Glenfarclas.

Some copies of the book will be given away in bars along the west coast of Scotland. Others can be obtained for pounds 5 from Black Raven Publishing, Berkhamsted Castle, HP4 1LJ.