Glencoe, Scotland’s Hidden Gem: 11+ Things to do in Glencoe

Glencoe Scotland with white peaks

Glencoe is enchantingly beautiful 26 km most famous valleys in the Highlands. It stretches between velvety green conical peaks, the peaks of which are often hidden in the clouds, and cascades of rocks and rubble. From hiking the high peaks, exploring Glencoe filming location or learning the turbulent history of the region- there are things to do in Glencoe for everyone.

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Table of Contents

Glencoe has amazing scenery and wildlife; mountains, rivers, lochs and valleys make up this small but perfectly formed land of the Scottish Highlands. There are plenty of activities available for visitors to do and places to see. 

Glen Etive, Three Sisters, and Lost Valley are just some of the places that lure in visitors from all over the world. 

Glencoe scotland

A Quick Guide To The Top 11+ Things To Do In Glencoe

1.Learn History and Heritage of the Region

Glencoe Museum was founded in 1967 by local lady Barbara Fairweather MBE. Beautiful museum cottages are the only thatched buildings in the area, dating to the early 1700s.

Known as ‘cruck cottages’ meaning that the bearing beams of the roof come down the inside walls. The museum has a fascinating collection of objects, agricultural implements, medical equipment, classic toys, archaeology and photographs, First and Second war memorabilia and domestic items from around the Glencoe area.

You can also learn about the infamous Massacre of Glencoe and the Jacobite uprising. Glencoe Folk Museum is located in the heart of Glencoe Village, just off the A82 

From April-October open Wednesday-Sunday from 11 am-3 pm, last entry at 2.30 pm

2. Find your Favourite Film Locations

Glencoe is a land of mountains and waterfalls with dramatic rugged settings, so no wonder that many movie directors set Glencoe as a filming location.

From romantic comedies like Made of Honour to the epic battles of Braveheart and the global success of Harry Potter or Outlander, you can follow them all. 

  • River Etive is famous with Skyfall- James Bond
  • Loch Etive– Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1. The loch can be seen as a setting for Harry, Hermione and Ron’s camping trip. The scene was filmed at the northernmost part of the lake 
  • Glencoe was used to film multiple scenes – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,  The Goblet of Fire, the Order of Phoenix and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.
  • Hagrid’s hut was built opposite the Clachaig Inn, the bridge leading to the entrance of Hogwarts and some scenes were also filmed at the nearby lake.
  • Clachaig Inn – Hannah from Made of Honour is staying at the inn before getting married at Eilean Donan
  • Not surprisingly, Outlander producers choose this location as their opening credit for every episode. The filming attracts visitors to the area but the dramatic settings of the deep valley shaped by glaciers and volcanoes are the real magnet.
  • Rob Roy was filmed in the hills above Kinlochleven
  • Waterfall meeting of Three Waters Bridge of Death and the Gorge of Eternal Peril in Monthy Phyton and the Holy Grail filmed in Glencoe Falls
  • Ben Nevis village where William Wallace lives at the start of the Braveheart film was built in the hills beside Glen Nevis. The forestry commission has a braveheart car park nearby with the legendary Wishing Stone on the edge of it
  • Steall Falls was the filming location for Harry Potter in the Half-Blood Prince
Buachaille Etive Mor
Buachaille Etive Mor

3. Get Adrenaline Pumping with Ferrata

If you are a non-climber but would like to experience the joy of climbing then Via Ferrata is a perfect place to join a little adventure. 

Scotland’s first Via Ferrata will take you along Grey Mare’s Tail 500-meter route. The ascent provides amazing views of the waterfall as you gain a considerable height climbing up steel ladders and walking in line with cables and bridges.

The activity lasts 2-3 hours and includes a safety briefing, being fitted out with the appropriate kit and walking to the waterfall. The climb itself takes around 1-2 hours depending on your progress. Although some people may be uncomfortable climbing heights, there are enough easy moves in this route that it is suitable for most accessible people. All in all, a memorable experience.

If you prefer water activities, you can get your adrenaline pumping with some of Scotland’s most demanding and extreme white water rafting. But to complete 12mile white water journey you need to have some experience already. With vertical descents, you get your heart racing.

4. Climb High Peaks

Flanked on both sides by a steep hillside Munro, Glencoe offers some of Scotland’s most challenging mountain routes.

Characteristics of them are long, sharp ascents along rocky paths and sudden changes in the weather, which attract fatal victims every year. It is important to properly prepare for the road, and not to stray from the route, because of your own safety and soil erosion in some places. For more route choices, see Glencoe Walks.

For families and less experienced hikers, a half-day trip to the Devils Staircase along the partly old military track that once connected Fort William with Stirling is highly recommendable. Marked with the symbol of the thistle, the route belongs to the West Highland Way, begins in the village of Kinlochleven and goes up to the summit at an altitude of 540 m and then descends on the opposite slope to Glencoe.

The devil’s staircase takes its name from four hundred soldiers who built them in the sweat of their brows in the 17th century. Despite its sinister name, in fine weather, the path is safe and gives the opportunity to admire Lich Eilde and Buachaille Etive Mhor.

5. Walk in the Footsteps of Ancient Clan Chiefs

The romantically named Lost Valley is Coire Gabhail in Gaelic, Corrie of Booty. Here, during the centuries leading up to the famous massacre of 1692, the Macdonalds hid their stolen cattle when the owners came storming on over the Mor of Rannoch with torch and claymore.

It seems incredible that even the sure-footed black cattle could have been persuaded up to slop to Cire Gabhail. The economic system of Highland Scotland until the end of the clans in 1745, was based on the keeping and the stealing of cattle.

It was an unsettled and dangerous lifestyle, and its art form was the verse of the bard who celebrated the most indigenous or violent acts of thievery and kept track of blood feuds. By the late 1600s, the clan and the claymore were replaced by a legal system backed by the central government and its army.

Traditional hospitality meant that even its leader Glen Lyon, a Campbell, and welcomed an enemy into the house of MacDonald. Five nights later, at a given signal, the soldiers rose from their beds and started murdering their hosts.

History has often portrayed the massacre as a disgraceful battle between rival clans, but the shocking murder and betrayal of trust was in fact an act of government-sponsored genocide.

6. Become a Lord, Laird or Lady of Glencoe

The wonderful project was founded by Dr. Peter Bevis, a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, and his daughter, Laura. They started off by selling plots of land from their family’s farm.

The mission was to restore the forest that had been destroyed by years of farming and profit-seeking commercial forestry. The idea proved popular that the Highland Titles expand the scope of the project thanks to thousands of supporters donating the money to restore, and maintain nature preserves in Scotland.

With your donation, you will get some cool perks including the ability to own and claim land, and titles like “lord” or “lady.” It comes with a nicely made photo ID card that shows the geographic location of your plot and your title.

For larger donations, you get more land and more perks, a frameable certificate, and plenty of information about their preserves and action plan. These make great presents for people who believe in conservation and have Scottish roots. 

It’s a gift for life!– This is something that you or the recipient can treasure forever and can be passed down to future generations.



Glencoe Scotland with white peaks
Glencoe Scotland with white peaks

7. See the Biggest Bug Hotel in the World!

The Highland Titles Nature Reserve Duror has been awarded a Guinness World Record with the biggest bug hotel in the world! In the reserve, you can also discover wildlife such as badgers, pine martens, foxes, deer, otters, red squirrels and more. Walk down the signed footpath along the Salachan Burn into Glencoe wood and visit ancient oak and birch wood more. 

Finding the reserve

Highland Titles Nature Reserve

Duror of Appin

Ballachulish

Highlands

PA38 4BW 

Read the full species list here 

8. Distilling Your Own Gin with Pixel Spirit Distillery

First distillation experience in Scotland. You’ll learn about key botanicals involved in gin making and how to create your own unique gin using botanicals. This 4h experience includes G&T on arrival, the tour of the distillery, recipe development with expert tuition, distilling in a cooper mini still, bottling, labelling and a large bottle of your own gin to take home. 

Pixel Spirit  Distillery and Gin School

9. Walks and Cycle Rides

Glencoe is a walker’s paradise. Walks in Glencoe are for people of all abilities. From climbing peak mountains to hiking the Lost Valley, Glencoe has accessible paths for wheelchair use.

There’s a gentle trail around the tranquil Glencoe Lochan, and a woodland path to explore. The Lochan Trial has three paths of different difficulties: one mile takes a pleasant walk around the small loch which mirrors the surrounding mountains. This tranquil spot is a great, easily reached gem that requires no effort.

A hidden gem of Glencoe surrounded by towering peaks, is the atmospheric Coire Gabhail. Is a hidden valley (also known as the Hidden Valley) with its infamous dark history that served as a cattle-hiding place for the MacDonalds of Glencoe, who escaped the 1692 massacre. The path here is rough, but it is also very scenic and takes 2-3 hours to complete. 

Its starts from the parking opposite Three Sisters, next to the main road A82. first, you need to walk into the valley and cross the bridge over the river Glen Coe. From there the path leads up along the ridge to Lost Valley, where the clan of Macdonald hide with their cattle. 

Lairig Gartain and Lairig Eilde offer 5h loop hike that takes you between some of the Glencoe’s finest mountains with a stunning view down to Glen Etive in the middle. 

An Torr walks Glencoe
An Torr walks Glencoe

10. Forest Bathing in An Torr

For an easy, accessible short hike and a breathtaking view, take the path that begins just off the A82 (past Glencoe Visitor Centre if you drive from Ballachulish and Glencoe village).

There are three paths linked, so choose the one leading to Signal Rock (If you have time, combine all three of these as they are linked (Signal Rock provides stunning views of the Glencoe sisters).

The walk passes through some lovely woodland with scattered alder, beech, sycamore, Scots pine and larch, with a ground flora of violets, sorrel, St John’s wort, bugle, tormentil,  heather,  bell heather, heath speedwell,  great woodrush purple moor grass, hard fern and shield ferns. 

The rock’s original title is “Tom a Ghrianain,” meaning the knoll of the sun, and Druids are said to have used the rock because it’s a great location to view the rising of the sun and the sun setting. It was also used for worshipping the sun.

It is also claimed that this was a meeting place for the MacDonalds to reach in case of an emergency or the site where a beacon would be lit by the clan to warn of any dangers. This could be another link to the Glencoe Massacre.

The An Torr walk starts from Signal Rock car park on the A82, 2.5 miles south of Glencoe.

11. Get your Camera ready to Snap a Shot of this Incredible Landscape

Seeing our photos back on location was really something else! The weather wasn’t exactly in our favour, but the pictures look amazing! Glencoe is one of Scotland’s most photographed mountains, so make sure you get your camera ready to snap a shot of these incredible natural landmarks.

Two mountains, the glen, the road to nowhere and Skyfall. Glen Etive is one of the most beautiful rides in Scotland, with 14 miles of stunning landscape and a pyramid peak of ‘Herdsmen of Etive’ – the Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag is a photographer’s dreamland.

The Three Sisters of Glencoe, also known as Bidean nam Bian Mountain, provide the perfect backdrop for your pictures

Do not forget to take a famous picture of a small cottage against a mountain. Find Black Rock Cottage by Glencoe Mountain Resort.

12. Drive The Glen Etive Road – Scotland’s Most Beautiful Road

On the way to Glencoe, in the heart of Scotland’s mountains and glens, is the Glen Etive road, which offers twelve miles of magnificent scenery.

Mountains and moorlands here provide incredible views and idyllic spots. This idyllic spot has played a major role in the Skyfall film, but it also has significance to Bond author Ian Fleming.

His lodge would be found at the end of a scenic long drive through this glen and this road was featured prominently in Skyfall.

Glen Etive Road is one of the most scenic, popular locations in Scotland and an area where almost all the famous movie scenes were filmed.

13.Immerse yourself in Highland Hospitality

Scots love people and are fun-loving, hospitable people. They’re always up for a chat and will do anything to make their guests feel at home. So make your vacation unforgettable and experience first-class Highland hospitality.

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kasia

My name is Kate and I created Scotland Itinerary Planning to give you those life-changing experiences right in the beautiful country I call home.

I’m proud to live in Edinburgh, Scotland, one of the world’s most beautiful capital cities. Living in Edinburgh has provided me a base to explore extensively around this magical little country.

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