14 Things to Do in Glencoe before you Die
From Summit to Seabed
Glencoe – it’s more than you think
Glencoe is a place to savour at your leisure and here is a short list of what we think are some of the best ways to appreciate it. I’m sure there are many more that you would like to add and we would be pleased to hear about them.
Some of our recommendations stretch beyond the boundaries of Glencoe but are all within half an hour drive of the Glen itself.
1. Spot Scotland’s Big 5
The Red Squirrel – A perfect viewing station can be found in Glen Righ by the carpark for Inchree Waterfalls. Take along a few monkey nuts to encourage the reluctant ones out of hiding.
The Golden Eagle – Just look to the skies either at sea level or in the hills and you may just be lucky. Best spotting time is during February and March. The white tailed eagle can also be seen.
The Harbour Seal – Will occasionally pay a visit to the burial island (Eilean Munde) in Loch Leven by Ballachulish and the little islands between South Ballachulish and Kentallen in Loch Linnhe.
The Otter – Sit still and quiet on the banks of Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe near to the Ballachulish Bridge. These are shy creatures so patience is required.
The Red Deer – Can be spotted on Rannoch Moor, in Glen Orchy, Glencoe and Glen Etive. Make a special visit in late October to experience the sights and sounds of the rut. The red deer are probably the easiest to spot out of the Big 5.
2. Savour Scottish Specialities
With a wonderful range of cafes, bars and restaurants in the area you can get to savour traditional Scottish haggis and venison dishes in various guises. With seafood straight from the lochs you can try a variety of fresh shellfish and the local catch of the day. Although there aren’t any Glencoe distilleries you will find bars well stocked with array of whiskys, a different one for each day of your stay.
3. Marvel at the Northern Lights and Wonderful Night Skies
The aurora borealis is a magical sight and we get to see them here on the west coast more often than you might think. Sign up to Aurora Watch and get alerts when activity is expected. With places with hardly any light pollution we get great night skies too.
4. Spectate at a Shinty Game
Shinty, a game which loosely resembles field hockey but don’t say this to a shinty player, is one of Scotland’s national games now played mainly in the Highlands. Matches are usually played between March and October, although there will be friendly games outside of this time. Shinty is a fast paced and physical game, so be ready to duck if you are at the sidelines! Apparently there is only one rule in shinty and this is ‘no swearing’.
Check out if there will be a game near you.
5. Bag some Munro’s
The area boasts 32 of the 282 Munros (mountains over 3000ft) which can be found in the Glen Etive Hills, Glencoe and the Mamores. You will be able to spend many holidays happily bagging especially if you want to top them in all the different seasons.
6. Dive in Loch Leven
Popular dive sites are opposite St John’s Church called The Old Cemetery, Ballachulish Bridge Drift Dive, the Burial Islands, the Upper Narrows, Carnoch Reef, the Slates, Kentallen Pier and in Bishops Bay. Who would have known what lies beneath our lochs.
7. Enjoy the Waterfalls in Full Flow
After a heavy fall of rain or during the snow melt the waterfalls can be very impressive. However you can pass the same spot a few hours later and there will only be a trickle to see.
Glencoe Gorge Waterfall – travelling from the south stop at the first lay-by on the left when entering the glen.
Inchree falls in Glen Righ – a series of 8 falls, dropping over a 100 metres finally cascading into a deep gorge.
Grey Mares Tail Waterfall in Kinlochleven – considered to be one of the best waterfalls in Scotland.
8. Feel the Thrill and the Exhilaration
If you are an adrenaline junkie then there is plenty to keep the blood racing. On the water you can enjoy fast boat rides, coasteering, river bugging and kayaking to name just a few. On land there is skiing and snowboarding in the winter and all year round you can climb be it on rock or ice, tackle the Via Ferrata or get the mountain bike out and enjoy some good forest trails.
9. Find Peace and Tranquility
Drive down peaceful glens and listen to the sound of silence. Enjoy a gentle canoe trip on river or loch. Take to the bicycle for a ride along the old railway line from Ballachulish to Oban. Take pleasure in gentle walks amongst stunning scenery.
10. Enjoy the Craic at a traditional Ceilidh
Talented musicians appear regularly in bars and hotels around the area. Bring along your own instrument and join in the fun. Get limbered up for some traditional dancing or join in with Auld Lang Syne at Hogmanay.
11. Experience the Four Seasons
One of the most striking features in Spring are the bluebells at St Johns Church, you will also see them dotted amongst the trees along the roadside. The area will also be awash with the colour of the rhododendrons.
Long summer days and short nights when it never really gets dark gives you a bigger window to have fun. The heather will be coming into bloom brightening up the hillsides.
Admire the golden colours of the bracken and trees and revert to being a kid again and kick about in the fallen leaves.
Plenty of chances for snow sports with open fires to warm your toes in front of in the evening. Always a popular time for photographers.
Even though we recommend you visit in each season it has been said that you can experience all the 4 seasons in one day in Scotland!
12. Take a photo of Buachaille Etive Mor and Black Rock Cottage
Join the millions of other folk who have taken this iconic shot. Probably one of the most easily recognisable locations in Scotland. If you are an Instagrammer use #discoverglencoe to post direct to our website or share on the Discover Glencoe Flickr page.
13. Wild Swimming
Jump in the River Etive, take a plunge in the green pool, or swim in Loch Leven. This craze has been emerging over recent years so join in with the thrill of the chill.
14. Get Geo Caching
Another outdoor activity which is gathering a lot of fans and is great fun for all the family. So get out your GPS and get hunting. There are plenty of locations in the Glencoe area to keep you entertained during your stay. Check these out by visiting the Glencoe Geocaching page.
Some of the activities suggested here can be dangerous under certain circumstances. It is the individuals responsibility to make the necessary safety checks before setting off on an adventure and to make sure they have the correct equipment and training. Discover Glencoe can not take responsibility for any accidents.