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Things To Do In Glencoe
One of the most spectacularly scenic spots in the Scottish Highlands, Glencoe is a part of the Glen Coe; a valley carved out by glaciers and volcanic eruptions and nestled between the towering Three Sisters and Buachaille Etive Mor mountains in the Lochaber region of Scotland. This picturesque valley region holds immense historic value for the locals as well; these were the grounds where the famous Glencoe Massacre took place in the year 1692. However, the region has moved on from its bloody past and is now extremely popular among vacationers, especially adventure-seekers for the various opportunities of hiking, mountaineering and water-sports available in the valley. Read on to know more about what we recommend for the top things to do in Glencoe.
Nature Walks and Hikes
Hiking is one of the most popular activities to pursue in Glencoe. While some of the routes will challenge even the most seasoned of travellers, others are much easier and can be enjoyed in combination with other activities as well. The easiest nature walks in the region are An Torr-Signal Rock and Glencoe Lochan, which extend only about 2.5 km and can be completed within a couple of hours. These family-friendly routes are also the best options for hiking newbies.
Falling under the moderate category of difficulty are the Lost Valley (4 km), Pap of Glencoe (7 km), Ballachulish Horseshoe (15 km), and West Highland Way to Kinlochleven (12 km) hikes that require some level of fitness and will take up a considerable few hours of your day. The Buachaille Etive Mor (13 km) and the Aonach Eagach (9.5 km) are the most difficult routes in the region and should only be explored by experienced hikers.
Indulge in Water Sports
Exploring the Scottish coastline from the waters is a completely different experience, which can often be incomparable to exploring it from the land. A number of tourist agencies in the region offer a wide variety of water-based activities that include canyoning, white water rafting, kayaking, canoeing etc. Among all such adrenaline-pumping water sports, canyoning is one of the most beginner-friendly activities that are popular even among families. Vertical Descents offer tours for canyoning in the Fort William and Glencoe area and are one of the best in the field, while Active Highs run the best trips for white water rafting and even offer kid-friendly tours.
Get in touch with Rockhopper in the Fort William area for amazing sea kayaking and canoeing trips around several small islands near Glencoe. Tours may be taken as half-day or full-day, and can also be combined with multiple-day camping trips to nearby regions.
Skiing at Glencoe Mountain Resort
While Scotland has a total of five ski resorts, the Glencoe Mountain Resort is the country’s longest established ski region. Situated just 20-minutes away from Glencoe Village, the resort offers the best in skiing quality to all those who appreciate the sport. Visitors are free to bring their own equipment or otherwise, rent it at the resort itself. Beginners can also take up lessons from the instructors available at the resort. If you are interested in taking a longer break here, accommodation can be taken up at the resort itself, which also has a café and a restaurant at its base station.
Cycle to Oban
Another exciting activity worth pursuing in Glencoe is cycling or mountain-biking. The spectacular scenery of Glencoe becomes even more enjoyable from the seat of your bike as you go cruising through the Highlands. There are numerous mountain biking paths in the region and thrill-seekers will find no dearth of brilliant views and tricky routes to enjoy their adventure to the fullest extent. Some of the most challenging routes are the Nevis Range downhill track and the rocky tracks of Glencoe Mountain Resort. A relatively more relaxed path, known as the Sustrans cycle route, goes from Glencoe all the way to Oban, which offers views over Ballachulish Bridge and Loch Levan while being one of the most family-friendly cycle tracks. But even this ‘easy’ path extends over 55 km, and that is just one way. Other forest trails can be found at Duror, Glenachulish and Inchree.
Cycles and bikes can be hired from stores like CrankItUp Gear in Glencoe Village, Port Appin Electric Bike Hire and Off Beat Bikes on High Street.
Ice climbing in Kinlochleven
Kinlochleven is a small village located around 15-minutes’ drive away from Glencoe and is also the home of the country’s National Ice Climbing Centre. The indoor climbing centre Ice Factor opened up in 2003 and has been offering climbing enthusiasts the chance to indulge in their favourite activity without needing to wait for chilly days on the mountains. It has the biggest indoor ice climbing wall on the planet, which is 12-metres high and made from hundreds of tons of real ice and snow. The room that houses the ice wall is kept at a consistent temperature of sub-zero levels. While seasoned climbers can manoeuvre at their own leisure, there are one-on-one learning sessions available for beginners as well. The centre also offers guided outdoor activities like hikes, winter mountaineering and rock climbing, including an aerial adventure course as well.
Via Ferrata Excursion
This high-wire adventure activity is available in a lot of countries around the world, but the one that can be tried in Kinlochleven, near Glencoe, is the only one of its kind in Scotland. It consists of a route that goes up alongside the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall, which is the second-largest waterfall in Scotland. With the help of a series of steel cables and iron steps that have been installed into the rock, visitors get to climb along the route to the top of the waterfall. There are guides who accompany the climbers and there is adequate safety training given before the climb as well. There is no climbing experience required, but it does help to be physically fit. The views of the spectacular surroundings as you move up on the climb make this one of the top things to try when in Glencoe.