For any of you who need a refresher, a glen is a narrow valley, and there are hundreds of them in Scotland. If you would like to explore the famous Scottish Highlands, Glencoe happens to be one of Scotland’s most historic and scenic glens. The mountains were originally formed through volcanic eruptions, and later carved by glaciers. On a somber note, Glencoe is also known for the Massacre of Glencoe, which took place in 1692. About 30 members of the MacDonald clan were killed by government forces. This was on the grounds that the clan had not been timely in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William III of England and II of Scotland and Mary II. For information about this and more, head to the Glencoe Visitor Centre.
Not only is the Visitor Centre the perfect place to start your adventure, it is also an easy place to park. The Centre includes a lovely gift shop, the Highland Coo Café (which is where CJ and I stopped for lunch), and restrooms. The Visitor Centre also provides information about walks you can take, the weather, and wildlife that you may find on your visit. A new short film called The Glen Revealed is featured at the Centre, which shows you the glen through millions of years (and if you are a Game of Thrones fan, it is narrated by Rory McCann!)
Once we parked the car, we headed straight into the gift shop, where I purchased an adorable Highland cow magnet, a cashmere scarf (Scotland is quite known for its cashmere), and midge spray. Note that if you are visiting Glencoe in the summer, I highly suggest you buy midge spray to ward them off! They are similar to mosquitos in the sense that they bite humans and are quite annoying. Once bitten, an irritating lump may appear, which can last a few hours or a few days. There are ticks present as well, so dress accordingly.
From the Visitor Centre, you can set out and hike around Glencoe. There are many trails that are very clearly labeled, noting the level of difficulty of the hike, how long the trail will take, and how far the trail is! For example, there is an easy trail labeled with yellow posts that will take you 25 minutes to walk. If you have more time, there is a black trail that will take you one hour to get through. CJ and I took the yellow and blue trails, and it is nice because all An Torr trails (the ones mentioned in this post) lead back to the car park.
On your hike in the glen you might find yourself face to face with sheep, wild mountain goats, or even a red deer stag. As Glencoe is a National Nature Reserve, the ranger team employed works very hard to balance the needs of wildlife as well as the many people who visit each year, which shows in the quality of their conservation work. Glencoe is not to be missed!