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Quintessential Highland adventures — hiking in Glen Coe

Summit Seekers

Quintessential Highland adventures — hiking in Glen Coe

Hiking Collection by Alex Foxfield

11

Tours

52:58 h

75.9 mi

26,825 ft

Boasting iconic and downright staggering scenery, containing a clutch of legendary Munros, hiding a dark and bloody history, and often cited as the spiritual home of Scottish mountaineering – there’s only one Glen Coe.

Even by the lofty standards of the Scottish Highlands, Glen Coe is special. As you approach the glen from the starkly beautiful Rannoch Moor, your arrival is greeted by Scotland’s most photographed peak, Buachaille Etive Mòr’s Stob Dearg. The first time you lay eyes on it is an unforgettable moment. Now that’s a mountain!

Enter the glen’s jaws and an intimidating, jagged wall towers above you on the right – the Aonach Eagach, home to arguably the greatest ridge traverse on the British mainland.

However, this formidable sight plays second fiddle to the scene to your left, where the complex and absolutely huge Bidean massif reaches towards the road with a trio of ridges that end abruptly and drop steeply to the valley floor – the famous Three Sisters are an awe-inspiring sight.

Your appetite appropriately whetted, it’s time to lace up your boots and venture out onto Glen Coe’s trails.

In this Collection, I present 11 hikes that explore this ancient and romantic landscape. From leisurely walks in the valley that visit sights associated with the 1692 Massacre of Glencoe to perhaps the most serious hikers’ traverse in the UK, there’s something for all experience levels. I’ve ordered the routes in terms of difficulty, starting with the easier ones.

Glen Coe’s Munros are big and steep. Many of the mountain hikes in this Collection are a challenging step up from the hillwalking found in the Lake District or even Snowdonia. A head for heights and scrambling aptitude are often called for, as well as a strong degree of self sufficiency.

You’ll need to carry plenty of food and drink, though you can always rehydrate at the many burns that cascade from the heights. I recommend a water filter for this, as Glen Coe is a popular area and the water may not be as pure as in more remote regions.

This is Scotland, so you should carry waterproofs and warm layers regardless of the season. Take a head torch on the longer days, just in case things don’t move as quickly as anticipated. I also recommend bringing a first aid kit with a tick twister, as well as midge repellent during the warmer months.

It’s best to avoid summer if possible, as this is when the midges are at their worst. Late spring and autumn are the best times to take on these routes. In winter, the Munros become the preserve of equipped mountaineers only, though the low-level routes offer magnificent views of snow-capped peaks.

In terms of accommodation, there are private rentals, guest houses and hotels in Glencoe village and Ballachulish. If you’re accessing the region by car, you could even stay in Kinlochleven or Fort William. Special mention should go to the Clachaig Inn, a legendary climber’s pub, and to the Kingshouse Hotel, which enjoys a grand setting on Rannoch Moor with a classic view of the Buachaille.

This is a remote part of Scotland, so a car is useful to access many of the starting points. The nearest train station is Fort William, which links to Glasgow and even London thanks to the Caledonian Sleeper. From Fort William, you can catch the 44 bus service to Ballachulish and Glen Coe village.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Glencoe Lochan Loop — hiking in Glen Coe

    Easy
    00:44
    1.56 mi
    2.2 mph
    200 ft
    225 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This gentle woodland walk is wonderfully serene, taking you around Glencoe Lochan in an anti-clockwise direction. The tall redwoods found here were planted around the turn of the 20th century by Lord Strathcona in an attempt to comfort his homesick Canadian wife. It was a ploy that failed, as the couple

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Easy
    00:40
    1.53 mi
    2.3 mph
    125 ft
    100 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Starting from perhaps Britain’s most legendary mountain inn, this walk takes you through mixed woodland to Signal Rock, the spot Glen Coe’s Clan MacDonald would convene and converse in times of strife. The story goes that it was at Signal Rock where the Campbells lit a fire in order to signal the start

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    03:17
    7.07 mi
    2.2 mph
    2,025 ft
    2,025 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This is a mountain that owes its popularity to Buachaille Etive Mòr’s Stob Dearg summit, as Beinn a’ Chrulaiste is perhaps the finest place from which to appreciate Scotland’s most recognisable peak.

    

    This makes Beinn a’ Chrulaiste the site of more than its fair share of wild camping trips and many a landscape

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    03:25
    4.24 mi
    1.2 mph
    2,175 ft
    2,175 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The Pap of Glencoe, or properly Sgorr na Cìche, is an instantly recognisable conical hump that rises in isolation at the far western end of the Aonach Eagach ridge system. Its beguiling shape and position overlooking the village of Glencoe make it the region’s most notable mini-mountain.

    

    However, the

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  • Intermediate
    03:29
    5.14 mi
    1.5 mph
    2,350 ft
    2,350 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Buachaille Etive Beag is a magnificent mountain ridge that’s forever in the shadow of its famous and even Mòr (excuse the pun) magnificent neighbour. Its big brother may enjoy all the admiring glances and contain the more exciting ascents but Buachaille Etive Beag has a few aces up its sleeve too.

    

    For

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  • Difficult
    06:13
    9.48 mi
    1.5 mph
    2,800 ft
    2,800 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Thought to have been named by the soldiers that built the path in the 18th century, The Devil’s Staircase is a high pass that takes you from Glen Coe towards Kinlochleven. It’s the highest point of the West Highland Way, at 1,798 feet (548 m), and one of its most famous sections. Given the excellent

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  • Difficult
    07:13
    8.89 mi
    1.2 mph
    3,125 ft
    3,125 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Buachaille Etive Mòr is one of Scotland’s most iconic mountains, perhaps second only to Ben Nevis. Its Stob Dearg peak – commonly referred to as ‘the Buachaille’ – is certainly the Highlands’ most recognisable mountain. Towering above Rannoch Moor, this ‘herdsman’ of the River Etive is an awesome squat

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  • Difficult
    06:59
    9.20 mi
    1.3 mph
    3,700 ft
    3,725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Beinn a’ Bheithir is a monstrous, horseshoe-shaped massif that towers above the western end of Loch Leven and the village of Ballachulish. It roughly translates to ‘Mountain of the Thunderbolt’ or ‘Mountain of the Beast’ and its folklore is rich in tales of dragons inhabiting its slopes. There’s no shortage

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  • Difficult
    07:03
    9.51 mi
    1.3 mph
    3,425 ft
    3,425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Bidean Nam Bian is the summit of the gigantic Bidean massif, a complex system of high ridge lines and grand corries that contain more than their fair share of drama. The Lost Valley – or Coire Gabhail to give it its proper title – is the Bidean’s most famous corrie.

    

    Suspended high above Glen Coe and

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  • Difficult
    06:03
    8.37 mi
    1.4 mph
    3,550 ft
    3,550 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The Bidean massif has four principal summits, all above 3,600 feet (1,100 m) and each with their own character. Stob Coire nan Lochan and Stob Coire nam Beith are too close to the higher Bidean Nam Bian summit to warrant separate Munro status but they are wonderful objectives in their own right. This

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  • Difficult
    07:52
    10.9 mi
    1.4 mph
    3,375 ft
    3,425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The Aonach Eagach’s notched ridge line creates an intimidatingly steep wall that dominates the north of Glen Coe. The traverse of its crest is often said to be the finest of its kind on mainland Britain. It’s a rite of passage for any adventurous hill walker.

    

    While undoubtedly challenging, the traverse

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    11
  • Distance
    75.9 mi
  • Duration
    52:58 h
  • Elevation
    26,825 ft

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