Scotland Traveloholic

Everything about Glencoe A To Z

There is no other place that feature such majestic landscapes like Glencoe, It is one of the iconic Scottish areas that everyday wows the tourists from around the world.

No where in Scotland you will find such a beauty bounded together with dramatic and mysterious past.

Here’s your ultimate guide to Glencoe.

A is for the Appin Murder

One of Scotland’s most famous murder mysteries. On the 14th of May 1752 Colin Campbell,  known as the “Red Fox”, a government official who managed confiscated local estates, seized after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 was riding through Appin to collect taxes and evict members of the Jacobite Stewart Clan.

He was shot and killed at a spot marked today with a cairn.

Local man, James Stewart was arrested and after a clearly biased trial hanged for a crime he almost certainly did not commit.

This story became the  basis of  Robert That Louis Stevenson’s  novel “kidnapped”.


B is for the Beuckle

Buachaille Etive Mor or “The Beuckle” is one of the most photographed and most recognizable spots in Scotland.

It’s also one of the best known and most loved of all the Munro mountains (Munro peaks are those over 3000 ft).

C is for the Clan ” MacIain”

One of the most prominent Glencoe clans, the MacIains were a junior branch of the powerful MacDonald clan.

The MacDonald’s were traditional supporters of the Scottish, Stuart kings. Due to the barren nature of Glencoe, the MacIain’s had a reputation as enthusiastic and very good cattle rustlers.

These facts, would in 1692 have tragic consequences.

D is for the Devil’s Staircase

This path is a popular part of the West Highland Way, situated between Kinlochleven and Glencoe.

The path was  named by British soldiers who were building an extensive road network after the first Jacobite Rebellion of 1715.

They had such trouble carrying their building material up the mountain that the path got it’s satanic name.

E is for Glen Etive

This spectacular glen runs south and west beneath the towering Buachaille Etive Mor. It is very popular with kayakers.

If you are a James Bond fan you will have seen it on the big screen- it was the setting of James Bond’s childhood home in the film “Skyfall”.

F is for the Falls of Glencoe

These waterfalls are part of the more famous Glencoe landscape. There is a viewing platform on the bridge that runs alongside the ravine at the base of the falls. Named “Meting of three waters”.


G is for Glen Coe

Glen Coe is probably Scotland’s most famous and most scenic Highland glen.

Visitors from all over the world flock here year after year, inspired by the sheer scale and grandeur of it’s surrounding mountains.

A quick fact about it’s name- some people believe that it derives from the gaelic for “glen of weeping”, perhaps in relation to the area’s tragic history.

But this is not true – the word “coe” is believed to pre-date the Gaelic language, so nobody knows what it signifies.

H is for Hamish MacInnes

Dr Hamish MacInnes is the world famous mountaineer and has climbed and explored the highest mountain regions of the world.

He has contributed greatly to mountain safety with his inventions (he pioneered the use of a stretcher that is used worldwide) and work with Glencoe mountain rescue team.

I is for Ice Age glacier

The glen is a U-shaped valley , formed by a glacier in the last ice age, 10 000 years ago.

J is for Michael Jackson

Yes, Michael Jackson learnt to moonwalk while  on his holidays in Glencoe. And yes, it’s a joke.


K is for Kinlochleven

Hidden away, this little town is surrounded by stunning mountains and the scenery of Loch Leven.

It is a popular stop off point for hillwalkers. To north of the town,  the Mamores ridge contains 10 Munros.

Because of a near by aluminium smelter, powered by a hydro electric dam, Kinlochleven became, in 1907, the first village in the world to have every household  powered by electricity!

L is for the Lost Valley

Coire Gabhail is the hidden valley where the MacDonalds of Glencoe- the MacIains- would  hide their rustled cattle.

A visit involves a very rough but intensity dramatic and scenic  walk.



First a little bit of history. In 1688 Queen Mary and her Dutch , protestant husband King William deposed her father , the catholic King James II of England and VII of Scotland.

The MacDonalds of Glencoe- aka the MacIains- remained loyal to the old king and so were known as Jacobites( “Jacobus” being the latin form of James).

The new King William demanded all the clan chiefs to pledge allegiance to the new regime by 31st of December 1691.

Alasdair MacIain, the chief of the MacDonalds of Glencoe, was 3 days late in giving this pledge.

This was seized upon by members of the Scottish government as an excuse to make an example of them.

In late January 1692 Robert Campbell of Glenlyon with 120 men of the Earl of Argyll’s Regiment of Foot was billeted with the MacDonalds who took them into their homes and treated them with traditional hospitality.

On the 12th of February Glenlyon received orders to “put all to the sword under seventy.”

In all 38 MacDonalds were killed by men they had taken into their homes, with many more women and children dying after fleeing into the freezing countryside.

This was a shocking breach of Highland tradition.

N is for National Trust

Most of this melancholy, gloomy glen is owned by the National Trust of Scotland

O is for Ossian

According to legend the great Celtic warrior and bard, Ossian, was born in Glencoe. Ossian was the son of Finn McCool, a legendary figure in Irish mythology.


P is for the Pap of Glencoe

“Pap” is an ancient word that means breast. The Pap of Glencoe, in Gaelic Sgorr na Ciche, is a breast-shaped mountain that rises from the waters of Loch Leven. The Pap is 742 m high (2,434 ft).

Q is for Quarries

Ballachulish Slate Quarries produced the slate tiles that roofed Scotland from the 1690s until it’s closure in 1950.

When open it provided employment for 600 men. Now it provides a nice and quiet place for walkers.

R is for Rannoch Moor

Stretching north and west from Rannoch Station this expanse of moorland consists of blanket bog, lochans, rivers and rocky outcrops.

The easiest way to explore this unique area is by using the West Highland Railway.

S is for the Signal Rock


According to legend this was the very spot on which the orders to begin the Glencoe Massacre were read out to the soldiers.

T is for the Three Sisters

The three sisters are a trio of mountains which form the ridges of Bidean nam Bian at the western end of the glen.

The three sisters are named Beinn Fhada (“Long Hill”), Aonach Dubh (“Black Ridge”) and Gearr Aonach (“Short Ridge”).

U is for U shape of the Glen

The glen is U-shaped, formed by an ice age glacier, 2,4 mln years ago. It is around 16 km long.


V is for Visitor Centre

The Glencoe Visitor Centre is award winning and includes exhibitions , a viewing platform, nice cafe and shop.

The new £3m Visitor Centre was opened in 2002 and substituted old and too small Centre from 1970s.

W is for the West Highland Way

The first and the most popular long distance walking route in Scotland. It is 154 km long and stretches from Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, to Fort William in the shadow of Ben Nevis. It offers the “best of” the Scottish Highlands.

X is for Xylophone

First Xylophone was invented in Glencoe 500AD*.

Y is for Yogurt

The only cows said to produce Yogurt from the udder instead of milk live in Glencoe*.

Z is for Zebra

In 2009 two zebras escaped Blair Drummond Safari Park. After two days group of tourist found them drinking water from river Coe beneath the Three Sisters. The zebras returned unharmed to their home at Drummond Safari Park*.

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Proofreading and extra bits (A,C,J): Colin MacInnes

Photos:  Arban Photography 


Scotland lover, video editor, web developer & 1/2 of @scotraveloholic :)

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