Nowhere else in Scotland is the walking and climbing as dramatic as in Glencoe. Whether you are looking for an easy stroll straight from our doorstep, or looking for a challenging long day out scrambling or climbing in the Glen, then the opportunities are endless.
As keen outdoor enthusiasts, we have walked and ran in the area extensively. This means we can make walking recommendations based on your experience, fitness and preference on what you would like to see. We have copies of walks and maps that you can borrow to take on your day out, just ask us for a copy. Below we have selected a few of our favourite hikes:
Coire Gabhail – The Lost Valley
A classic 3-4 hour walk here in Glencoe is the hike up into the dramatic Lost Valley. The Macdonalds are said to have hidden their rustled cattle in this valley. Deer can regularly be seen up on the steep slopes in the valley and being surrounded by the mountains it can feel like a remote amphitheatre. With this walk being a firm favourite, it can sometimes get fairly busy in the carpark and on the trail.
Route: Turn right out of Strath Lodge follow the road to the main A82, turn left, park in the 2nd large carpark on the right. From there look down to the valley floor and you will see the path below. Once on this path, walk to the left and follow the track to the metal staircase and a wooden bridge. If you come across a wooden bridge only, you are on the wrong path, walking into the wrong valley. Although a short hike in miles it has an adventurous feel with a small river crossing halfway up (can be impassable after heavy rainfall). https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/fortwilliam/lostvalley.shtml
The Lochan and woodland were created and planted by Lord Strathcona in the 19th century to help his native American wife feel more at home in the Scottish Highlands. An easy circular path follows the Lochan edge and gives ever changing views of Beinn a Bheithir and the Pap of Glencoe as you follow it around. With additional paths off the main track you can add extra time and distance to your walk and there is a track directly from Strath Lodge.
Signal Rock and An Torr
Legend has it that Signal Rock was the location where the signal to begin the Glencoe massacre was given early on the morning of 13th February 1692. This great little walk takes you through the local woodland where this all happened. Whilst forested now, it once would have had extensive views up and down the glen. After visiting Signal Rock, take in An Torr on the way back, this gentle hill top also allows for glimpses of the glen through the trees. From Strath Lodge average 1.5-2 hrs – longer if you stop for a cheeky wee pint at the Clachaig.
Pap of Glencoe
On the door step of Strath Lodge, to the right, we have the trailhead for this popular hike offering amazing views throughout. Although a slightly tougher hike, with a rise of 750 metres and loose terrain at some points, you will be rewarded with outstanding views at the top. On a clear day the views of Glencoe mountains to the South and the Northern peaks in Fort William, including Ben Nevis. Approx. 3-5 hours depending on how long you spend at the top. https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/fortwilliam/papofglencoe.shtml
Ballachulish Slate Quarry
The village of Ballachulish, just 3 miles from Strath Lodge, contain the fascinating remnants the Ballachulish slate quarries, which at one point employed up to 300 men. The quarry is now a scenic attraction in its own right. Within the rugged backdrop of slate walls, well marked trails show the quarry from different perspectives, and information boards will enlighten the visitor to its history.
Quarrying started shortly after the Glencoe massacre and grew dramatically during the 1700’s, with slates from the quarry being used on the roofs of Scotlands ever growing cities. With the arrival of a railway line from Oban in 1903, the quarry was given a further boost, and the quarry remained in business until finally closing in 1955. Ballachulish slate did have one weakness with the presence of iron pyrite crystals within the slate which meant that rust spots and holes would appear in slates exposed to the weather – an obvious drawback on a roof !!!! As a result, only 25% of the slate actually extracted could be used for roofing. You can walk to the top of the quarry, park at the Quarry Centre.
If you fancy taking in Britain’s highest mountain, it’s a good 8 hour day out and definitely worth planning well in advance to ensure you’re equipped for the weather and the route. Find more information on https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/fortwilliam/bennevis.shtml and if you would like a guide or fancy a more challenging route see our mountain guide recommendations below.
There are a large number of munros all within easy reach of the Strath Lodge, so the opportunities for the munro bagger are plentiful. Some you can walk to straight out of the door!!. They are named after Sir Hugh Munro, the first person to record and document all the Scottish mountains over 3000ft in height. There are 282 munros across Scotland and attempting to climb them all has become a popular pastime for many of the UK’s walkers and climbers.
There’s so much on offer in the whole area. The Aonach Eagach ridge is considered to be one of the finest ridge traverses on the UK mainland, but is for the confident scrambler only. Another alternative could be climbing Buachaille Etive Mor, one of the most iconic of Scottish mountains, by the classic scramble up Curved Ridge. There are some great resources out there to help you plan, amongst those are Walk Highlands, there’s also some great videos on YouTube.
Winter mountaineering and climbing
When winter conditions arrive in Glencoe and the Highlands, the mountains take on a whole new disguise. Whilst stunningly beautiful, venturing out into the mountains in these conditions requires a new skill set, with the need for technical equipment and a thorough understanding of the mountain conditions. The days can be bitterly cold, with less daylight hours and the navigation more tricky, but the rewards are quite simply fantastic. Is there any wonder why Scottish winter mountaineers are so highly regarded !!!
Learn to Ice Climb on the Worlds Biggest Indoor Ice Climbing Wall. The indoor ice climbing wall at the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven simply has no rival anywhere in the world. 500 tonnes of real snow and ice to a height of 50ft, with grades from beginner to expert make the indoor ice climbing experience a must. If that’s not your cup of tea – then there’s also indoor rock climbing, bouldering walls, and an aerial adventure course. And you can finish up in the café, a perfect place to relax after all that strenuous activity. The Ice Factor is excellent for when the weather outside may be a little miserable.
Vertical Descents just along the road in Onich, offer a multitude of adrenaline fuelled activities such as canyoning, river rafting, quadbiking, paintball, bridge swinging and much much more. So if you’re the adventurous type, just check out what’s on offer from their website and go and push your boundaries.
You can can experience the via ferrata with these guys too, an exciting combination of steel ladders and cable bridges provide a unique and awe-inspiring journey up the cliff face right on the side of one of Scotland’s most majestic and hidden waterfalls, the Grey Mare’s Tail in Kinlochleven.
Need a guide?
Have you looked at the imposing peaks in the Glen and thought that you lack the experience to tackle them? Maybe you have your sights set on Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to explore lower level, lesser visited terrain. If you want an entertaining day out with someone with all the local knowledge of the area, then you could consider hiring a guide.
Girls on Hills – not just for girls but run by girls, fabulous confidence builders in navigation and if you want to make the break into running in the hills or tackle your first munro with confidence! www.girlsonhills.com
Another guide based in Glencoe is Simon. Offering guided trips throughout the Lochaber area to suit your needs. So if you want to get out in the hills, but feel you may not have the confidence to safely navigate in unfamiliar terrain, then why not check out his website High Ventures .
Kirkhope Mountaineering is a mountain guiding and coaching company based in Fort William. They offer a wide range of activities such as walking, rock climbing, scrambling and mountain biking the Fort William and Glencoe area. Booking a Ben Nevis Guide for the Mountain path or north face climbs is a very popular choice. Or make the most of your Glencoe stay with Glencoe Mountain Guide for a guided traverse of the Aonach Eagach or Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor.
With a vast wealth of experience in the area Richard Pyne was an ice climbing instructor at the indoor ice climbing wall in Kinlochleven. He runs Rich Mountain Experiences offering a range of mountain experiences, summer or winter, individual one on one guiding or groups.