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Glen Coe (Scotland)
Member Name: tconnor
Glen Coe (Scotland)
Date: 13/09/08, updated on 13/09/08 (88 review reads)
Advantages: Amazing scenery, endless outdoor activities, Clachaig Inn cheer
I love Glencoe! Its a leisurely 2 hour drive north of Glasgow where I live & I like to escape there as often as i can to enjoy the amazing outdoor life it provides.
For an idea of the the scenery watch any of the recent Harry Potter films - the mountains are in Glencoe & Hagrids cabin was built on the side of the mountain opposite the Clachaig Inn.
I have always known about Glencoe, my family used to travel through the Glen on the A82 when i was young on route to some other wild part of Scotland (these were in the days when most people holidayed at home rather than jump on the quickest flight to the Costas) We never stopped though for some reason.
I could write a book about my experience in Glencoe, but my first proper introduction is probably as good an experience as any to dedicate to a review of this fantastic part of Scotland.
It wasn't until 1995 that I was introduced to the outdoor participation part of Glencoe when friends of mine dragged me out of my comfy bed in their house at 6am (having gone to bed at 3am!) to be bundled out of the car at the base of a huge mountain shortly before 9am. Our aim was to climb this mountain. This mountain was Buachaille Etive Mor or the great Shepard of Etive to translate from the Gaelic. This wasn't really a mountain to be tackled by a beginner like me, but I know that now I didn't then!
What a stunning introduction to the outdoor world of Glencoe, no doubts this was a tough walk, but the weather was amazing, the hungover cobwebs were soon blown away & in no time we were sat at the top looking over the vast expanse of Rannoch moor to the right, Blackwater resevoir, the Mamores & Ben Nevis to the North and the majesty of the Glencoe peaks to the left. On a clear day the views from here are amazing. What amused me most that morning was sitting having my lunch at the summit looking over the views & seeing a helmet appear in front of me from what I thought was a sheer cliff. It is a sheer a cliff & as this mountain is very popular with climbers here was one such person ending their own route to the summit.
That evening we stayed at the red squirrel campsite which is about a mile off the A82, beyond the Clachaig Inn on the old road to Glencoe village. Tents pitched, showers had we walked the half mile down to the Clachaig Inn; having had 5 hours of serious walking that day I was starving & devoured my burger & chips in record time. What amazed me most that trip was that by 9am the boots bar of the Clachaig Inn was packed with outdoors people all adrenalined up from their own day of activities; where on earth had they all come from? This place is in the middle of nowhere & there weren't that many tents in the campsite!
A traditional folk group played live music that evening & the atmosphere was simply amazing; there is no dance floor in the boots bar, people danced where they stood & everyone chatted to everyone else about their experiences that day. After the Inn closed there was the walk back to the campground with new friends (who had been sensible enough to bring a torch) whilst singing some of the folk songs of the evening.
I have been up to Glencoe many many times since then, spent 3 New Years there and haven't had one bad day. Yes the weather can be extremely questionable at times - just come prepared!
On a serious note I do see many people on the hills who are ill prepared; day trippers who on a nice day see walkers heading up a mountain on a path & decide to follow them. Weather can turn really quickly and all of a sudden those people are swallowed up by cloud, rain, hail, snow, gail force winds etc etc. It is easy to slip even with the right footware so with inappropriate shoes expect disaster. A gust of wind can blow you off a path & possibly over a cliff. Always think that if you were to be forced to stay a night on the hill what would be the very least you would want to have with you to survive.
Back to the lighter notes!
There are many activities around Glencoe ranging from simple walks in woodland and around lochs to mountain biking, mountaineering, climbing, Skiing and walking up the mountains. The sea is only a mile away and that opens up another set of activities.
If walking up mountains is your thing then Glencoe is a great base; you could stay here for 2 weeks and not climb the same mountain twice within a 30 minute radius.
Some favourities of mine are:
Bidean Nam Bian; the highest peak in Glencoe, home to the 3 sisters & right across the road from Jimmy Savilles house! The first part of this walk up the side of the river to the hidden valley is a beautiful introduction and manageable by anyone of reasonable fitness.
Any of the Mamores; one day I will camp up there & do the full circuit!
If you do visit this part of the world & are tempted by Ben Nevis, be warned that the tourist route is a long arduous boring walk; the afore mentioned mamores will give you a cracking view of Britain's highest mountain & reward you with a far nicer walk.
I haven't yet braved Aonach Eagach as it is a serious and potentially dangerous walk, however if you are up to the walk then this is classed as mainland Britain's narrowest & best ridge walk.
If you are going to do all that exercise you need some food! My favourites are the Clachaig; good bar meals served until 8.15pm in the boots bar & 9pm in the lounge. I'm addicted to the chili burritos! The visitor center has some nice home baking, the bacon ciabatta is to be recommended. During the summer & bank holidays there is also a piper outside to add to the atmosphere. Finally a place i have just discovered this year is the craft shop at Balachulish (for the last ten years i thought it was just a craft shop & i don't do craft!) They do everything from breakfasts to sandwiches to homebaked curries. This is a great wee cafe which can get busy, however its food is superb. They also have an outdoor section which makes it even more amazing that i never noticed it!
Some useful websites:
www.clachaig.com - gives you menu, accommodation, entertainment & great links page to other businesses in the area
Summary: Just Visit!