Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel was chief of the Clan Cameron and a noted player in West Highland affairs for so long that he seemed indestructible. He succeeded his father as 26th chief in 1951, immediately exchanging residence in London for Achnacarry above Loch Lochy, the place he sometimes referred to as ''my spiritual home''.

He took seriously the concept of clan and kinship, deciding that as Cameron chief, there was no other place for him to live but at the seat of the clan. He attended an early Cameron gathering at Achnacarry in 1938, and after succeeding as chief, provided leadership to clan organisations, travelling the globe to attend Cameron celebrations. To the end, he retained almost a sense of innocence at how clan membership was so valued abroad, while at home in Scotland, it was barely accepted, if at all.

He once recollected: ''We went to (a dinner in) Brisbane and, do you know, 300 people turned up? Imagine if I went to Glasgow and it was announced that the chief of Clan Cameron was coming. Do you think that anybody would turn up?''

Lochiel enjoyed a special relationship with Glasgow through his ancestor, also Donald, the 19th chief. This ''Gentle Lochiel'' was ADC to Prince Charles Edward when the Jacobite retreat from Derby reached Glasgow in December 1745. The presence of the Jacobite army threatened the city and terrified the magistrates. But Lochiel did a deal, ordering the troops to leave Glasgow untouched, providing the city yielded much-needed supplies. In turn, a grateful provost and baillies promised that whenever Gentle Lochiel or his descendants returned to Glasgow, the bells of the Tolbooth steeple would be rung in

celebration. For the present Lochiel, they have pealed out on four occasions, the last time a decade ago.

Educated at Harrow and Baliol College, Oxford, Lochiel trained in accountancy, and at 19 took a commission in the Lovat Scouts. His ability in the twin disciplines of business and the Territorial Army saw him sought out for leading posts in each for the rest of his life.

He served with the Lovat Scouts in Italy, becoming major by 1940 and lieutenant-colonel in 1945. In post-war years he went on to command various TA units, including the 4/5th Bn (TA) Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (later honorary colonel); Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders; the Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons); and the 2nd Bn 51st Highland Volunteers, only giving up active participation in 1975.

The death of his father in 1951 had the immediate effect of directing his business talents towards retaining the estate in the face of death duties. Fassifern and Drumsallie, plus part of the north side of Loch Arkaig, were sold and the lands trimmed to 90,000 acres.

He was retained as a director and later chairman by several companies, including the Royal Bank of Scotland from 1954, Scottish Widows and Save & Prosper. He was later a Crown Estate Commissioner and a governor of his old school, Harrow.

He had a passion for railways, and delighted in the fact that in 1944, the LNER named one of its six new steam locomotives Cameron of Lochiel for service on the Fort William-Mallaig line. This engine was named after his father, but Lochiel travelled several times behind ''his'' locomotive until it was withdrawn in 1961.

The practical side of his railway interest saw him play a notable supporting role in the successful venture to restore steam traction between Fort William and Mallaig, a fact

not unrelated to his serving

as a director first with the British Transport Commission in 1959, and later serving on BR boards in London and Scotland.

There was no denying either his dashing appearance or his innate courtesy. Tall (he was nearly 6ft 3in), he was a habitual kilt-wearer, proudly wearing a red sett, one of the four Cameron of Lochiel patterns. He also possessed the happy knack, gained, he said, ''through sheer hard practice'', of remembering names and faces. At a promotion in Fort William in 2001, he greeted almost everyone among the 30 present by name, including members of the press.

Charities were important to him, and he gave freely of his time and effort towards them. For 16 years from 1975, he chaired the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children in Scotland, and anyone who assisted the fund was sure to receive a letter of thanks personally penned by him. He maintained family tradition by becoming the third of his family in succession to become lord lieutenant for Inverness-shire, having also served as county councillor for Kilmallie in the old Inverness County Council.

All eldest sons have been called Donald since 1800. Confusing perhaps to a non-Cameron, but Lochiel was Donald Hamish, his son

Donald Angus, and grandson Donald Andrew.

The Achnacarry estate played a major part as a Commando training ground during the Second World War. This

is remembered both in the Cameron museum he helped establish 15 years ago, and by the establishment of the Commando War Memorial above Spean Bridge to which he lent considerable support.

Lochiel was both the longest-lived Cameron chief and also chief for the greatest length of time. He died peacefully at home at his beloved Achnacarry on Thursday in his 94th year, retaining his energy and vigour right to the very end. Only the morning before, he attempted his usual newspaper crossword.

Three years ago, he was the central figure in the presentation of a new vehicle by the Order of St John to Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team. After he delivered his remarks - in typically commanding pose, with kilt, bonnet and cromach - one of his hosts inquired how he was returning home. ''Same way as I came,'' he replied, pointing to the rather battered Land-Rover in which he had driven himself. He was then 90, and as independent as ever.

He was made CVO in 1970, and three years later, on St Andrew's Day, he was appointed by the Queen as a Knight of the Thistle, Scotland's greatest order of chivalry, in recognition of services to Scotland.

He is survived by Margaret (nee Gathorne-Hardy), his

wife of 65 years, two sons

and two daughters, 12 grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. His elder son, Donald Angus, becomes 27th chief.

Colonel Sir Donald Hamish Cameron of Lochiel, 26th chief of Clan Cameron; born September 12, 1910, died May 27, 2004.