Almost completely uninhabited, the valley, which extends for about 20 miles within the Scottish Highlands, south of Fort William and north of Oban, can be widely travelled by car but for hikers, it is an unmissable opportunity; it offers the possibility of various types of excursions, from simple walks to the most demanding trekking and climbing pathways, so dear to Scottish fitness and nature lovers.
Fort William is the largest city in the western highlands of Scotland. Originally built around the still existing village of Inverloch, the city is located at the southern end of the Great Glen, on the banks of Loch Eil, where salt and sweet water are chasing each other from sea to stream.
Fort William is located close to Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles and not far from the beautiful and endless Glen Coe valley.
Also nicknamed “The weeping glen,” because of the massacre that took place in these places by the Campbell clan at the expense of the MacDonald clan, the striking Glen Coe valley has been the setting of many films such as Braveheart, Highlander, Rob Roy and Harry Potter.
Today it's just a curiosity for tourists who come to Scotland, but once belonging to a clan was a historic, cultural and military experience. Scotland has its tradition of clan (or family) which was based on a feudal system handed down to descendants. The clan leaders in the Highlands governed their own clan, as if it were a small kingdom, clinging to each other's alliances and fighting whenever appropriate. These clashes were sometimes very bloody and the one which took place in Glen Coe in 1692 was among the cruellest. Highland clans progressively got isolated and lost power and importance.
In this patriarchal system, clan members were loyal to the clan chief even before being loyal to the king until in the 18th century the leaders were forced to swear allegiance to the monarch. Other measures imposed at that time included the compulsory education of the children and the ban on wearing the tartan (the typical textile), which had become a symbol of rebellion.
The most well-known and easy-to-follow route around here is the so-called Lost Valley, where the Mac CIain clan of Glencoe once concealed their cattle so it wouldn’t be stolen.
The most scenic and travelled route by local hikers is a 14 kilometre-long trail, once travelled twice a day by the inhabitants of this remote area to be able to work in what is considered one of Scotland's oldest inns. Arrived at the top of Devil's Staircase, a 45-minute walk up, on a sunny day, one can admire the valley in all its beauty.
Glen Coe is particularly beautiful on those (rare) sunny days when its lakes become like mirrors and the stones in these bodies of water seem suspended in air if you just stand by and look at them from upside down! I’ve tried and it’s quite funny!
In this region water is one of the absolute protagonists and one of the main reasons for its beauty; rivers, lakes, waterfalls, sea...a jubilation of nature that is met by magic, history and man’s love for the earth.
In recent times this valley has been home to several scenes from “Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban” and the famous Hagrid’s hut has been built and filmed here in all the films of the saga.
Glen Coe, with its typical wild landscape has indeed been the background of many adrenaline-filled Quidditch matches which took place in the Glen Nevis area.
Few places in the world will leave you speechless like this volcanic valley surrounded by high mountains, spotted with flowers of all kinds and cuddled by long waterfalls. The sensation is to feel the ground breathing and living just below your feet.
Everything moves around streets lurking in the silence and loneliness crossing harsh valleys swept by the winds and dominated by the mysterious Three Sisters, three giant rock formations that seem to hang over the heads of those who pass by.