No visit to Scotland is complete without a drive through the spectacular Glen Coe. The ‘Glen of Weeping’ is one of the Scottish Highland’s most famous natural attractions, with towering mountains and a grim and tragic past.
Whilst taking a selfie with the Three Sisters and that snap of the little white cottage in front of the dramatic Buachaille Etive Mor might top the list of things to do in Glen Coe, however, there is a lot more to this glen beyond the famous views.
If you really want to discover this beautiful glen in all its glory, park the car, put on your walking boots, and follow me…
Let’s go to Glen Coe!
If you want a gentle stroll, explore Glencoe lochan
Behind Glencoe village hides a romantic lochan in a beautiful forest. Take a walk amongst the trees overshadowed by two of Glen Coe’s most famous peaks; the imposing Pap of Glencoe which guards the entrance to the glen and Beinn a’Bheithir, the Mountain of the Thunderbolt.
On a clear day, the reflections of the trees and mountains in the lochan are just spectacular.
Designed and planted in the 19th Century by Donald Alexander Smith (later 1st Baron Strathcona of Glencoe) in honour of wife Isabella’s native Canada, the woodland is full of cedars, larches and spruces. Donald had hoped to help Isabella with her homesickness.
Wouldn’t you love somewhere as beautiful as this planted just for you?
How to visit: Glencoe Lochan can be found to the north of Glencoe Village. Parking is either by the roadside at the end of the village or in the Forestry Commission car park by the loch.
There are three routes to explore, the woodland, the mountain and the lochan trail, a map is available in the car park and the routes are well marked. More information is available from Discover Glencoe.
If you are feeling a bit more energetic…find the Lost Valley
Deep between the imposing peaks of the Three Sisters lies a path that leads to a valley with a grim history.
Once used as a hiding place for stolen cattle, in 1692 whilst their clan leader was killed and homes burned by Campbell soldiers, the men of the Macdonald clan hid in Coire Gabhail or ‘The Hollow of Capture’.
The Glencoe massacre eventually led to the Jacobite risings, which finally came to a devastating end 82 years later on Culloden Moor.
Today the valley is more commonly known as the Lost Valley, and exploring its depths beneath the imposing peak of the dreadful corrie, Stob Coire Sgreamhach, you feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the glen beneath you.
It is an unsettling place, but stunningly beautiful.
How to visit: The walk up to the Lost Valley starts at the larger of the two car parks beneath the Three Sisters. Take the path leading west out of the car park as you look away from the road.
The path winds up the hillside crossing a deep ravine. The walk can be tough going with some scrambling and will take you an hour to reach the valley. Follow the walk via Walk Highlands.
For those who want a real adventure… climb the little herdsman of Etive
If you fancy bagging a Munro whilst in the highlands, well Glencoe has 12 of them for you. Buachaille Etive Mor (the great herdsman) might be the most famous of all of the peaks, but it is a mountain for those who really know what they are doing.
Instead, tackle its slightly smaller neighbour, Buachaille Etive Beag.
Climbing a munro is never an easy task, and the climb up to the Bealach is hard going, and very steep. Once you reach the top the views across Glen Coe are huge & wide ranging.
From here you have the option to climb two Munros; Stob Coire Raineach and Stob Dubh, from which there is a spectacular view down Glen Etive.
How to climb Buachaille Etive Beag: Parking for the climb is by the large honeycomb cairn. Walk Highlands have the route map.
For those thinking of climbing a Munro for the first time, check out my beginners guide to climbing a Munro. We did the climb in 4 hours, it is 10 miles, and 950m+ in clear and dry weather. Before doing any high-level walks in Glen Coe, check out the mountain weather forecast.
If you don’t fancy bagging Buachaille Etive Beag take a street view trek up the mountain!
So are you ready? Let’s go!
Love from, Scotland x
The National Trust for Scotland manage Glencoe, the visitor centre & 8 of the Munros.
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