It is said that the best view comes after the hardest climb – and the climb up the Pap of Glencoe certainly lives up to the proverb. Giving a truly stunning view over Loch Leven, the giant peaks of the Mamores, Ben Nevis and down to Loch Linnhe at the gateway of Glencoe, here is how to climb the Pap of Glencoe.
How to climb the Pap of Glencoe
At just 2432 ft / 742m high, the Pap of Glencoe (or Sgorr na Ciche – Gaelic peak of the breast – yes really!) might be a wee baby in comparison to the surrounding giants of Glencoe, but this is no easy climb – be warned, the route up the hill is incredibly steep and boggy. However, you soon won’t care – the views from the Pap of Glencoe are some of the best in Scotland.
How long does it take to climb the Pap of Glencoe?
The Pap of Glencoe is located in the West Highlands of Scotland and part of the region of Lochaber. The drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Glencoe is around 2-3 hours depending on traffic. With a reasonable level of fitness, the walk up the Pap will take around 4 hours from the car park, although I’d leave around 5 hours – you’ll need plenty of time on the top for photos.
Starting from the new car park for the Glencoe Lochan (to find the car park cross the bridge at the end of the village follow the minor road for 500m) the path at first winds it’s way through the wooded glen before taking a turn through a gate into a field. Keep dogs on leads here for the field is usually home to a couple of rather large cows.
Climb to the top of the field and turn left over the stream on a rickety bridge. (there an option here to follow the burn straight up, but the route is very rough) before following a muddy and boggy path along the hillside. The path then starts to rise steeply up the Allt a’ Mhuillnn burn before sweeping east back towards the glen to avoid the burn’s deep valley.
A great effort has been made to build a new path at this point – but it is still very rough, steep and slippy – the scree has yet to bed in yet and there are lots of boggy patches to deal with. The top of the Pap is a mess of boulders, requiring some simple light scrambling around the back of the ‘pap’ before the path finally reaches the top and the view truly opens out revealing an incredible view of Ben Nevis, the giant peaks of the Mamores and Garbh Bheinn and down to Loch Linnhe at the gateway of Glencoe.
Best time to climb The Pap of Glencoe?
Scotland’s weather is best in May and September. Don’t attempt climbing the Pap of Glencoe in winter unless you are a specialist climber. For weather forecasts, I recommend you check out:
The Pap of Glencoe is a deservedly a popular hill and on a good day the car park can quickly fill up. Get there early and don’t park in the passing places if you can’t find a spot.
The pap of Glencoe route maps
- OS You will need OS Explorer map: OS Explorer map: 384: Glen Coe & Glen Etive
- Walkhighlands have a Pap of Glencoe route map
How hard is it to climb the Pap of Glencoe?
Whilst climbing the Pap of Glencoe is not technically hard, it is very steep, and the path is boggy rough so don’t climb it expecting a wee trip up Arthurs Seat. You will need hillwalking gear and be prepared for the weather to change in a heartbeat – mist, fog and rain can sweep in quickly off the west coast of Scotland. Make sure you are prepared for the descent, over boggy ground it’s even tougher than the ascent.
If you haven’t hill walked before, have a look at my beginners guide to hillwalking in Scotland.
How to get to the Pap of Glencoe
To get to Glencoe, either take the A82 to Glencoe Village or catch a Citilink bus. The walk starts 500m from the end of the village.
Love, from Scotland x
I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.