The Glen of Change

Glencoe is an anomaly, its moods are constantly changing, yet it never seems to physically change.  Ex-patriot Scots, returning to their Promised Land, invariably find the Glen just as they left it a decade, or event two decades before.

You can see why it turned-on poets, songwriters and artists and inspired them to reach for pencil and pallet.  It’s a vertical playground for the ‘go’ fraternity and a must for the landscape connoisseur and the car potato.  Each and every one who enters the portals absorbs the heady ambiance, it’s cool man, it’s fab, it’s Glencoe!

This is a Pass of many faces; here film crews and location managers ferret round the mountains skirts; but it was a fiendish location manager who staged and perpetuated the massacre of 1692, when government troops, billeted with the local Macdonalds, turned on their hosts that bleak winters dawn on the 13th February and butchered them.  Murder Under Trust…. was the most heinous of crimes.

In more recent times a local inn sported a sign – “NO HAWKERS OR CAMPBELLS”.   The Campbells, amongst others, were actively involved in this plot and carnage.  Rest assured, locals no longer have misgivings of bed and breakfast guests.

Glencoe is a twelve-month of the year Glen, there’s no real off season if you want to witness nature in the raw that is, admittedly November and December is the “off time”, when winter lowers white shutters and nights stretch to leave the narrow eight hour window of the day.  But even at this time, when you may not get the startling colours of spring or the balmy days of summer, or the burnished bracket of autumn, you’re compensated with vivid shadow effects striding out of the Lost Valley or perhaps Buachaille Etive Mor, projected inkily across the Moor of Rannoch.  Or it may be profiles of buttresses and ridges like books on an eerily lit shelf and you may have a sneaking thought that there could be a greater power.

Glencoe is a microcosm of history, colour and nude rock.  It is a land uplifted high.  The A82, as it bullets across the Moor takes you into the depths of the Glen, which Dickens felt was the haunt of demons and witches; where Queen Victoria stopped for a picnic and admiringly said “What a study…..”

As the road dips down through the gorge you run the gauntlet between the Three Sisters on the left and the might of the Aonach Eagach Ridge to the right.

The Glen is a place to savour at your leisure not to sweep down the tarmac as if in fear of 1692 reprisals.  Check it out, take your time and enjoy.

Hamish McInnes OBE

Keep in touch

Sign Up