IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF GLEN COE
The drive through Glen Coe is one of Scotland’s most scenic road trips, world famous for its beauty and a must-see for all visitors.
Visually, it’s everything you could want from a Highlands adventure; towering mountains, gorgeous glens, waterfalls, and wildlife. On a one day road trip out of Edinburgh, time is tight, but Glen Coe shouldn’t be missed as it encapsulates the best of Scotland. It’s easily one of my favourite places in Scotland and, although it’s a bit further from Edinburgh than other stop-offs, it’s worth every moment to see it.
Driving along the A82 in anticipation of Glen Coe itself, you’ll pass over Rannoch Moor. Its open vistas are framed by craggy mountains such as Buachaille Etive Mòr, the ‘herdsman’ for the glen, before you reach the winding roads of Glen Coe itself. Take your time as you drive through, keeping an eye out for the numerous bays on the side of the road where you can pull over and admire the views.
Glen Coe has a chameleon aesthetic, constantly adapting and changing with the seasons. In the warmer months, you’ll find lush green mountains and valleys sprinkled with patches of gloriously purple heather. In colder weather, it displays a more forbidding magnificence – barren, tawny-coloured, occasionally snow-covered, and always atmospheric. Every visit to Glen Coe is different but, whatever the weather may be, it’s always spectacular. I’ve visited in every season and I always notice something new and exciting.
Driving through, you won’t be able to miss the glen’s most prominent feature – the Three Sisters. Forming part of the Bidean nam Bian Mountain, it’s a favourite photo pit-stop on the road through the glen. They make up the iconic scene of Glen Coe and are named as one of the finest views in the UK. There are several bays along this section of the route so that you can pause to admire the Sisters safely from the side of the road. On fine days in the summer, you might even come across a lone bagpipe player playing for visitors and adding more drama to the already astonishing scenery.
There are trails below the Three Sisters that immerse you further in the natural beauty of the area. I’d highly recommend you take the time to wander along these well-trodden paths and enjoy this special place for as long as you can. If you have more time, there are plenty of other walks in the surrounding area. These range from 45 minute ambles to multi-day hikes, but they all help you uncover hidden areas of Glen Coe that can’t be seen from the roadside.
Keep an eye out for the two lonely white cottages. The first sits at the beginning of the glen with Buachaille Etive Mòr as a backdrop, and the second appears at the foot of the Three Sisters. These two iconic homes are some of the most photographed dwellings in the country.
At the foot of the glen is the eco-friendly Glencoe Visitor Centre. It includes a café, a shop, an exhibition space, and ranger information for anyone wanting to do more walking. However, I use the Centre as a starting point for a short walk behind it to view the glen from another angle.
A five minute drive later, and you’ll arrive in the town of Glencoe itself, and the fascinating Glencoe Folk Museum.
The 18th century thatched roof cottages of the Glencoe Folk Museum, and the exhibitions inside, give you a sense of what life was like in this area in days gone by.
The stunning scenery of Glen Coe demonstrates this area’s immense geological features and natural beauty. The museum provides historical context and a deeper understanding of what has happened in this rural part of Scotland. In 1692, the Glen Coe Massacre occurred which ultimately led to the Jacobite rebellion defeat at Culloden Moor. It’s hard to believe that such a beautiful place has such a violent history.
The museum itself is the result of the dedication of two local women, Barbara Fairweather and Rae Grant. They wanted to preserve the objects and information that give visitors a glimpse back in time, discovering the history of Glencoe and the North Lorn district. It’s a wonderfully thought-provoking little museum, and can be visited for just £3. Delve into interesting items from the past such as historical toys, and enjoy displays on the local area’s natural history, local industries, and ancient weapons that were hidden for over 200 years following the Jacobite Risings.
The Glen Coe folk museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4.30pm, with last admission at 4pm. In low season, opening times can vary and it can often close over lunch on certain days. Phone ahead on 01855 811 664 to avoid any potential disappointment.
Glen Coe is more than just a place of stunning natural beauty, it’s where you’ll find yourself falling in love with Scotland. Make sure you give yourself long enough to stop freely as you pass through, and take as many photos as you can to look back on fondly when you’re home.