Walk: Glen Coe, Argyll and Bute

A beautiful 4.5-mile mountain walk tucked away in the glorious glens of the Scottish Highlands.

 

3rd February 2017
Difficulty
Medium
Distance
4.3 miles
Duration
2.5 hours

Approaching the Clachaig Inn from the south couldn’t make for a more dramatic road trip. After winding through the settlements of Tyndrum and Bridge of Orchy – the landscape undulating between the grand and the mountainous as you go – you’ll reach the vast plain of Rannoch Moor.

No one is sure how long there has been an  inn at Clathaig, but records go back as far as 1864
No one is sure how long there has been an inn at Clathaig, but records go back as far as 1864

1. On Clan Land

It’s claimed that the MacDonald clan used to stow their rustled cattle in the lofty folds of the Lost Valley, and the walk to it remains a dramatic and unlikely one. To reach it, drive to either of the Glen’s central car parks. After enjoying the view of the triple-ridged Three Sisters on the other side of the glen, head down from the road onto an obvious path. This heads to the left before slowly breaking right down to the River Coe. Cross the wooden bridge that spectacularly spans the gorge.                        
 

“They’ll never take our freedom!” Both red and roe deer roam wild  in the Scottish Highlands
“They’ll never take our freedom!” Both red and roe deer roam wild in the Scottish Highlands 

2. Steps of stone

On the other side of the bridge the way becomes rougher and rockier underfoot. Care is needed here in summer, and if there’s considerable amount of ice, which is possible in deep winter, then you may have to either don crampons or abandon your walk. Assuming all is well, continue along the path, which takes the form of a rock staircase and rises up through birch woods. It should be quite difficult to lose the path, but bear in mind that as you near the Lost Valley you will have to cross the stream (the Allt Coire Gabhail) on potentially slippery stepping stones, and that soon after this a slanting ramp across a boulder pile will need to be negotiated too.

3. Lost in the valley

Once above this trickier part the ground levels out and you can see into the Lost Valley for the first time: a quiet and wild-feeling place ringed by toothy cliffs on three sides. Take your time up here, it’s a place that few people visit and is worth investigating fully.

4. Summit's shadow

An exploration along to the valley’s end will take you along the walls of Gearr Aonach and Bheinn Fhada to the base of Bidean nam Bian, a winter mountaineering summit of considerable appeal. When you’re satisfied, return the way you came and back to the warm confines of the Clachaig.

 

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