Glencoe is certainly one of my favourite places in Scotland for a number of reasons. Well not actually the town Glencoe but the actual glen and Rannoch Moor. Better get on with my reasoning!
The A82 is one of the nicest roads to drive along, not only is the scenery great come snow or sunshine but it's such a fun driving road. Not that I recommend speeding of course. In the summer time you have a wealth of activities open to you, you have endless options of hill walking. It's a mountainous region... but I imagine that Meall a Bhuiridh is likely the most popular amongst walkers/hikers. If you are into fishing then the numerous lochs on Rannoch Moor provide fantastic sport to the fly fisherman, lots of wil brown trout and even the prospect of artic char, the fishing is free too!
Come winter and Glencoe transforms into a winter wonderland. The ski resort opens, people flock to ski the fine slopes of Meall a Bhuiridh, climbers come for ice climbing and the scenery is spectacular when covered in snow. Be warned though, it is a dangerous place in the winter and lives are lost every year due to avalanches, take care if you are out and at least know what the dangers to look out for are.
All of this, and you're only an hour and a half, probably less, from Glasgow. I certainly know the wonders of this magical place but do you? Do a bit of travelling and see for your self this fine Glen in the heart of Scotland. There's plenty of laybys along the A82 for you to stop and take it all in. Also the chance of seeing some fine wild stag.
I love Glencoe! Its a leisurely 2 hour drive north of Glasgow where I live & I like to escape there as often as i can to enjoy the amazing outdoor life it provides.
For an idea of the the scenery watch any of the recent Harry Potter films - the mountains are in Glencoe & Hagrids cabin was built on the side of the mountain opposite the Clachaig Inn.
I have always known about Glencoe, my family used to travel through the Glen on the A82 when i was young on route to some other wild part of Scotland (these were in the days when most people holidayed at home rather than jump on the quickest flight to the Costas) We never stopped though for some reason.
I could write a book about my experience in Glencoe, but my first proper introduction is probably as good an experience as any to dedicate to a review of this fantastic part of Scotland.
It wasn't until 1995 that I was introduced to the outdoor participation part of Glencoe when friends of mine dragged me out of my comfy bed in their house at 6am (having gone to bed at 3am!) to be bundled out of the car at the base of a huge mountain shortly before 9am. Our aim was to climb this mountain. This mountain was Buachaille Etive Mor or the great Shepard of Etive to translate from the Gaelic. This wasn't really a mountain to be tackled by a beginner like me, but I know that now I didn't then!
What a stunning introduction to the outdoor world of Glencoe, no doubts this was a tough walk, but the weather was amazing, the hungover cobwebs were soon blown away & in no time we were sat at the top looking over the vast expanse of Rannoch moor to the right, Blackwater resevoir, the Mamores & Ben Nevis to the North and the majesty of the Glencoe peaks to the left. On a clear day the views from here are amazing. What amused me most that morning was sitting having my lunch at the summit looking over the views & seeing a helmet appear in front of me from what I thought was a sheer cliff. It is a sheer a cliff & as this mountain is very popular with climbers here was one such person ending their own route to the summit.
That evening we stayed at the red squirrel campsite which is about a mile off the A82, beyond the Clachaig Inn on the old road to Glencoe village. Tents pitched, showers had we walked the half mile down to the Clachaig Inn; having had 5 hours of serious walking that day I was starving & devoured my burger & chips in record time. What amazed me most that trip was that by 9am the boots bar of the Clachaig Inn was packed with outdoors people all adrenalined up from their own day of activities; where on earth had they all come from? This place is in the middle of nowhere & there weren't that many tents in the campsite!
A traditional folk group played live music that evening & the atmosphere was simply amazing; there is no dance floor in the boots bar, people danced where they stood & everyone chatted to everyone else about their experiences that day. After the Inn closed there was the walk back to the campground with new friends (who had been sensible enough to bring a torch) whilst singing some of the folk songs of the evening.
I have been up to Glencoe many many times since then, spent 3 New Years there and haven't had one bad day. Yes the weather can be extremely questionable at times - just come prepared!
On a serious note I do see many people on the hills who are ill prepared; day trippers who on a nice day see walkers heading up a mountain on a path & decide to follow them. Weather can turn really quickly and all of a sudden those people are swallowed up by cloud, rain, hail, snow, gail force winds etc etc. It is easy to slip even with the right footware so with inappropriate shoes expect disaster. A gust of wind can blow you off a path & possibly over a cliff. Always think that if you were to be forced to stay a night on the hill what would be the very least you would want to have with you to survive.
Back to the lighter notes!
There are many activities around Glencoe ranging from simple walks in woodland and around lochs to mountain biking, mountaineering, climbing, Skiing and walking up the mountains. The sea is only a mile away and that opens up another set of activities.
If walking up mountains is your thing then Glencoe is a great base; you could stay here for 2 weeks and not climb the same mountain twice within a 30 minute radius.
Some favourities of mine are:
Bidean Nam Bian; the highest peak in Glencoe, home to the 3 sisters & right across the road from Jimmy Savilles house! The first part of this walk up the side of the river to the hidden valley is a beautiful introduction and manageable by anyone of reasonable fitness.
Any of the Mamores; one day I will camp up there & do the full circuit!
If you do visit this part of the world & are tempted by Ben Nevis, be warned that the tourist route is a long arduous boring walk; the afore mentioned mamores will give you a cracking view of Britain's highest mountain & reward you with a far nicer walk.
I haven't yet braved Aonach Eagach as it is a serious and potentially dangerous walk, however if you are up to the walk then this is classed as mainland Britain's narrowest & best ridge walk.
If you are going to do all that exercise you need some food! My favourites are the Clachaig; good bar meals served until 8.15pm in the boots bar & 9pm in the lounge. I'm addicted to the chili burritos! The visitor center has some nice home baking, the bacon ciabatta is to be recommended. During the summer & bank holidays there is also a piper outside to add to the atmosphere. Finally a place i have just discovered this year is the craft shop at Balachulish (for the last ten years i thought it was just a craft shop & i don't do craft!) They do everything from breakfasts to sandwiches to homebaked curries. This is a great wee cafe which can get busy, however its food is superb. They also have an outdoor section which makes it even more amazing that i never noticed it!
Some useful websites:
www.clachaig.com - gives you menu, accommodation, entertainment & great links page to other businesses in the area
CEUD MILE FAILTE - A hundred thousand welcomes is the Gaelic greeting, and you will be made to feel very welcome in the dramatic Western Highlands of Scotland.
** Please note that GLEN COE is the valley and GLENCOE is the name of the village.
ONE of Scotland's most historic and scenic glens, Glen Coe - the Narrow Valley, is inspiring. With a turbulent history and the most haunting and magnificent setting which rivals anywhere on Earth, it's no wonder people come here in huge numbers. The main road, the A82 - and everything adjacent to it, can be very busy but if you pull on those hiking boots and wander off for ten minutes, you will find true solitude.
THE WEEPING GLEN*, is the best known and most visited glen in Scotland, and no wonder. The steep hillsides of the 'Three Sisters' lie to the south, with the Aonach Eagach or 'Notched Ridge' to the north. Guarding the entrance to the glen from Rannoch Moor is the impressive Buachaille Etive Mor, perhaps the most spectacular of all the Scottish mountains.
*Glen Coe is not called the Weeping Glen in connection with the tragic massacre but refers to the fact that the glen gets over 90 inches of rainfall annually!*
There are many low level walks, in fact the West Highland Way passes close by, and there are 43 Munros within 15 miles of Glencoe village.
*** Please remember that at any time of year, even mid summer, no-one should venture into the high peaks or remote areas without the correct clothing and equipment.***
COIRE GABHAIL - The Hidden valley is a two hour walk with good footpaths through stunning scenery to a spectacular example of a 'hanging valley' hidden high among the mountains of Glen Coe. The valley was reputedly used by the MacDonalds of Glen Coe in times of trouble and for hiding stolen cattle.
The path climbs upwards beside a series of waterfalls and deep pools and brings you
to a large valley with steep, snow-capped mountains on three sides - Beinn Fhada on your left, Gearr Aonach on your right, and Bidean nam Bian at the far end of the valley. The bottom of the valley is remarkably flat and grassy, and is a perfect spot for a picnic.
The traverse of AONACH EAGACH is definitely the most exhilirating in mainland Britain. The ridge is continuously very narrow and in many places extremely exposed. It is a serious walk in summer - in winter it should only be attempted by highly experienced individuals.
For some excellent images of Glen Coe:
The approach to Glen Coe passes across RANNOCH MOOR - 50 square miles of wild peat bogs, lochs and lochans. This is wild country, 1000ft above sea level and surrounded by 3000ft mountains and almost totally uninhabited until you pass through the glen and descend down to the shores of Loch Leven.
From this point onwards to Fort William (15 miles), civilization is slightly more in evidence with a large number of hotels and guesthouses, craft shops and attractions and many different leisure activities.
GLENCOE village, and neighbouring BALLACHULISH is a famous centre for walking, ski-ing and climbing vacations, but there are many other things to see and do. It's an ideal holiday centre from which to go mountain biking, sailing, horse-riding, fishing and it is, of course,an ideal base for touring the western highlands and islands of Scotland.
Some attractions in Glencoe village:
 Highland Mysteryworld
An exploration of Scottish myths and legends, situated in the atmospheric Glencoe. The animatronic effects a
nd actors make this highly enjoyable and entertaining.
 Glencoe & North Lorn Folk Museum
Housed in a heather thatched croft cottage the folk museum has an exhibition that traces the local history of this area.
 NTS Visitor centre
This is a popular attraction with a history of mountaineering and a presentation concerning the tragedy of 1692.
THE MASSACRE of GLEN COE
Although much worse atrocities, involving far greater slaughter have occurred during Scotland's turbulent past, the Massacre of Glen Coe has earned it's place in history because of its treachery and brutality. The massacre has been attributed to an ancient feud between the Campbells and the McDonalds - it was, in fact, a British government plot to exterminate a troublesome highland clan. Of the 128 soldiers who took part, only 12 of them were Campbells, including the commanding officer.
The flimsy reason for the massacre was McIain of Glen Coe's signing of an oath of allegiance a few days later than the deadline.
The government troops were given the hospitality of the unsuspecting McDonalds for 10 days and then at 5am on 13th February 1692 - the slaughter began. Thirty-eight men, women and children were killed immediately with many more dying of exposure on the frozen, snow covered mountains.
Glencoe is a small ski area and the facilities pretty basic compared to some European resorts although it does offer varied and challenging skiing and snowboarding.
It has the steepest piste in Scotland and, if there is enough snow, the longest piste in the country.
Glencoe's slopes lie between 305m and 1108m, on the Meall A Bhuiridh mountain at the edge of Rannoch Moor and just east of Glen Coe. The access lift rises to the plateau tow, which provides access to the othe
r tows and the bulk of the slopes. The upper slopes enjoy good snow cover, often from December to May.
The UK's first chairlift opened here at the White Corries ski area in 1961.
A museum of Scottish skiing and mountaineering is located nearby and contains many momentos from the locality and further afield - including Chris Bonnington's ice axe from the 1985 Everest expedition.
Facts and Figures
Vertical Drop: 803m/2,634' Top Elevation: 1,108m/3,635'
Lifts: 7 (2 chairs, 5 surface) Trails: 16 (11 km)
There is accommodation in the area suitable for all tastes and budgets; luxury hotels, house rentals, bunkhouses and camp-sites. For more information:
Thanks for reading,
Anyone who's been to Glen Coe will know what I mean by that title. Even if you're only passing through on the A82 going elsewhere, you can't fail to be dumbstruck by the awesome Glen Coe. Coming across Rannoch Moor, a vast desolate open land, you're suddenly plunged into a steep-sided valley hemmed with Scotland's best mountains. The domineering image is that of Buachaille Etive Mor (translation: the large sheperd of Etive), the huge pyramidical peak which stands over at the edge of the moor, said to guard the entrance to Glen Coe. Where is this Glen Coe, you say? It's remarkably easy to find, lying right on the A82, the main route through the Western Highlands in Scotland. From the south, pick up the A82 from Glasgow, head north for about 75 miles through Crianlarich and Tyndrum, and you're there. From the north, the same again - pick up the A82 from wherever you are (it goes right up to Inverness) and go south. It's hard to miss! If you don't own a car, you can get a train to Fort William which is 15 miles away. Long-distance buses pass through both Fort William and Glen Coe, and there are numerous local bus services as well. Failing that, there's an airport at Inverness and numerous ferry ports in the region! Now you're there you'll want somewhere to stay. Glencoe Village has a hotel or three, a youth hostel, a bunkhouse (just like a youth hostel really but independantly run), B&B's, and a few campsites. Nearby villages of Ballachulish (3 miles) and Kinlochleven (7 miles) offer more hotels and B&B's. This opinion can't go without a mention of the world-famous Clachaig Inn. Located at the centre of the Glen Coe valley, 3 miles east of the village, it's a pilgrimage for walkers, climbers, skiiers, tourists, passers-by, families, in fact everyone. If you've never been to the Clachaig you've never lived. They have a huge selection of real ales (despite its name
, Fraoch's Heather Ale is superb!) from Scotland's best breweries - Skye, Orkney, Fraoch, Strathallen, Houston, and other guests. The same goes for the Scotch whisky - the shelf is absolutely full of bottles of the stuff. I know I'll come under fire for saying this but I'm not a fan of whisky myself so I can't comment on it! It's not just the drinks, nearly every evening the Clachaig has live music of some kind. From a kilted Scotsman with a flute to a roaring local band, from country and folk to rock and roll. And a superb food menu (of course, Haggis is on there as well). And the hotel upstairs. It's no wonder that in 2001, the Clachaig Inn was voted the best outdoors pub in Britain. This is by readers, not by a panel of judges. Ahem. Back to Glen Coe if you can pull yourself away from the pub - believe me it will be hard work! Glen Coe is the haven of mountaineers, hemmed in by spectacular peaks and ridges. On the north side we have the Aonach Eagach (translation: notched ridge), a razor-edged ridge high above the valley to test your wits. It's not for the faint-hearted. Even I haven't done it yet. Next to the Aonach is the Pap Of Glencoe, not particularly high compared to the rest, but a nice pyramid peak with fine views over Glen Coe and beyond. Crossing the valley we have Buachaille Etive Mor (known as The Buckle), the huge mountain guarding Glen Coe from the east. Its cliffs look impenetrable without ropes and tons of ironmongery, but around the corner you can get up onto the ridge and enjoy the spectacular views over the glen and out across the moor. The Buckle's little brother, Buachaille Etive Beag (trans: little sheperd of Etive, or the Wee Buckle) is by no means less impressive. It's easier to walk it as well than its big brother. Moving westwards we come to the Bidean Nam Bian (trans: pinnacle of the peaks), the highest mountain in Argyll at 1150m (3772 ft), another one not
for the inexperienced with high and narrow ridges. The Bidean offers easier alternatives though, including the Lost Valley. The Lost Valley must be about the size of a few football pitches, and it's all completely hidden from view from Glen Coe. Local legend has it that farmers hid their cattle up here during battles, and it's easy to see why. Back to the higher mountains, behind Ballachulish lies the huge arc of Beinn a'Bheithir (trans: hill of the thunderbolt), again with spectacular views all round. Perched on the edge of Glen Coe you're treated to views of the distant Highlands and even the islands off the west coast. If you choose the right month you get loads of skiing in as well, mainly the White Corries, or if you go for a drive, Aonach Mor near Ben Nevis. Aonach Mor is the home of Britain's only Gondola chair-lift which takes you half-way up the mountain, from where you can go higher on the ski-tows. There's even mountain-bike tracks across the mountainside. It's a strange notion to me, but if you're not interested in climbing the mountains or skiing, Glen Coe is steeped in history. The translation of Glen Coe is the Glen of Weeping, after the Massacre Of Glencoe in 1692. This was when the Campbells were ordered to murder all MacDonalds under the age of 70. Not just murder, but murder under trust - the MacDonalds for many months had been giving homes to the Campbells and giving them food and warmth. They were murdered by their guests. Only 40 were killed, but many more fled into the mountains and died of the cold and hunger. In their memory, Glencoe Village has an impressive memorial cross. The Glencoe Visitor Centre, for 50p admission, shows a video of the massacre and the events leading to it. The visitor centre, as usual, has many souvenirs to buy, and books, posters and maps, and a display on the region's mountain rescue history. It's 50p entry into the centre, but it goes to th
e National Trust for Scotland, which works to keep the countryside in good nick, repairing paths and walls and the like. For the tourist, that's all there is to Glen Coe itself, but if you go for a drive, Fort William (15 miles) is a much larger town with plenty of local souvenir shops, pubs and cafés. Pick the right month and you also get a ride on the Jacobite steam train down the "iron road to the isles" to the port of Mallaig. Or there's Neptune's Staircase a couple of miles from the town centre, the long series of locks on the Caledonian Canal built by Thomas Telford. Eight miles beyond Fort William is Spean Bridge, with a woollen mill and a Commando Memorial to the British soldiers who used the Scottish Highlands as their training ground. Closer to home, the White Corries ski centre on the edge of Rannoch Moor has a skiing and mountaineering museum, including the ice axes Chris Bonnington used to climb Everest. There's plenty to keep you busy if you go and look for it. Need I say anymore about Glen Coe? Well yes, but there's only so much that can be said in words. You really have to go there to appreciate the sheer scale of it. Even if it's only to visit the Clachaig Inn. Websites: Glen Coe - http://www.glencoescotland.com The Clachaig Inn - http://www.clachaig.com (yes it has its own website!) White Corries Ski Centre - http://www.ski-glencoe.co.uk Nevis Range Ski Centre - http://www.nevis-range.co.uk Maps for the area: OS Landranger 41 (1:50,000) - Ben Nevis & Glen Coe OS Outdoor Leisure 38 (1:25,000) - Ben Nevis & Glen Coe Harvey's Superwalker (1:25,000) - Glencoe (with 1:12,500 enlargement of Bidean Nam Bian & Aonach Eagach)
Dubbed Scotland's Grand Canyon, Glen Coe is my favourite area of the UK. It is a stuning glacial valley with loads to do from the best pub in the UK to some suberb climbs and walks. You will have seen photos of the glen's scenery a thousand times. It's a favourite of advert makers and hollwood directors. Background shots from all the Braveheart type films will have a Glen Coe shot somewhere. The walks range from gentle lochside bimbles through a trip to the lost valley (where cattle used to be hidden from rustlers) to a full on winter ice routes only for the experienced mountaieer. The jewel of Glen Coe has to be The Clachaig Inn. It is home to all sorts of customer: bikers, American tourists, weary walkers, wizzened old mountain men and plain old passers-by. They do superb food and have the biggest collection of whiskies I've seen. Try the Heather Ale, better than it sounds and bloody strong. The Inn's staff are volunteers, receiving board and lodgings only, so give them a good tip! Watch out for the wood burning stoves which melt Goretex and other clothes. You used to be able to camp along the road next to the inn but human sewage problems led to this being discouraged. Try the Red Squirrel campsite instead. The only drawbacks are unpredictable weather and the dreaded midges- but hey it's the West Coast of Scotland so what do you expect?