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A true wilderness

Glencoe

It’s hard to believe a major road runs through such wilderness. Monolithic, conical peaks streaked by cascades of boulders and scree. Even on the brightest day, there’s a darkness and weight

 There’s more to Glencoe than lay-bys…

Glencoe manages to avoid the cliched tourist trappings of tartan shortbread tins and postcards of terriers and highland coos, remaining wild and generally unpopulated.

The lay-bys are a constant buzz of cars, coaches and campervans stopping and swapping places like a super speed change of the guard, the occupants jump out to snap the magnificent hills, perhaps a selfie too, before re-embarking and heading on. But as generations of walkers, photographers, skiers and climbers with testify, there’s more to Glencoe than lay-bys.

GLENCOE FACTS & FIGURES

Glencoe or Glen Coe?

Well, both actually. Glen Coe refers to the glen itself. That’s the area bound by the three sisters on one side and Aonach Eagach on the other. Glencoe is also the general area name covering from the north west of Rannoch Moor through to Ballachullish. Glencoe village, as it suggests, is the village itself, located on the western side of the pass through Glen Coe, where it opens out to Lochleven.

Glencoe boasts nine Munros

Munros are mountains in Scotland with peaks above 3,000 feet, of which there are 283 in total. The list is named after Sir Hugh Munro who first published a list of these mountains in 1891. It’s believed the list took two decades to compile.  Find out names (and how to pronounce them!) at our favourite walking website Walkhighlands.

Glen Coe is the result of a volcanic eruption 420 million years ago

Yes, that is a long time ago. Glencoe is the remains of the volcanic explosion and then its u-shaped valley was further formed by a glacier during an ice age, roughly 10,000 years ago.

When you have that sensation of being just a speck in the valley, it’s justified. Both in space and time.

If the geology of the area (itself spanning a mind-numbing 920 million years in the making) has captured your interest then a visit to the Lochaber Geopark Visitor Centre in Fort William should be scheduled in – petit and run by volunteers – but ‘rocks’ (Sorry! We couldn’t resist).

The massacre of Glencoe

Back in January 1692, 128 soldiers arrived in Glencoe where they stayed under the hospitality of the MacDonald Clan for 12 days. On the 13th day, the soldiers turned on their hosts early morning, killing 38 of the clan, with others escaping the slaughter by running into the snowy hills. Many perished.

What was the reason for this “murder under trust”? King William the Third had ordered all clan chiefs to pledge an oath of their allegiance. Maclain of Glencoe travelled to Fort William to sign for the clan and, on arrival, he discovered he had to go to Inveraray. Difficult conditions meant he signed on January 6th – 5 days after the deadline for signing. He thought all was fine, however, others decided he should be punished for his late pledge.

Maclain is buried on the Eilean Munda – a small island opposite the Isles of Glencoe Hotel and a memorial for the massacre can be found in Glencoe Village in Upper Carnoch.