Glencoe, The Highlands

Landscapes and nature

Glens in Scotland

Wander in wild, remote glens where the only living thing you'll see will be the elusive local wildlife. Or, take a breather in a secret valley just a stone's throw away from the city. Later on, you can revive your spirits in a haunted castle or a welcoming distillery!

Scotland's glens are calling you...

There are hundreds of glorious hills, mountains and glens in Scotland for you to discover, and they all have their own character. This can change with the weather, the season and your mood. You'll never explore the same glen twice!

Come through Glencoe on a day when the clouds are cloaking the high hills and the tales of the battles fought here will chill your blood. In the winter months, Glenshee is a playground for skiers and snowboarders. The mountain hares in their white winter fur find it all very strange.

If you're in Edinburgh, head for Glencorse in the Pentland Hills. It's only a mile south of the city boundary, but as you saunter by the placid lochs you'll feel like you've left the metropolis far, far behind. In spring, the gorse bushes are ablaze with yellow flowers and the air rich with their beautiful buttery aroma.

In Glen Orchy you can canoe for miles along the rumbling river and then rest your weary bones in style in Barcaldine Castle. (If you get any sleep, that is - the castle is said to be haunted.)

Why not conquer a Munro or two? If you're new to mountain climbing, read up on our Munros for beginners to help you get started.

Five favourite glens


Stob Dearg Buachaille Etive Mor

You can't miss Buachaille Etive Mor. Brutish and beautiful, this distinctive pyramid-shaped mountain guards the entrance to Glencoe. As you pass it your heart will skip a beat. If you pull on a pair of stout shoes and walk half an hour up the rugged track, you will emerge into one of the glen's great secrets, the Lost Valley. It was in this invisible nook that the Clan MacDonald hid the cattle they rustled from their neighbours (how they got the cows up here is a mystery, but they did).

Glen Trool

Sunrise over Glen Trool, Galloway

Not every beautiful glen is in the Highlands. Glen Trool in Dumfries & Galloway is a lush, lochside hideaway with idyllic forest walks. Robert the Bruce won a famous battle here by throwing rocks down the hillside on his foes. Now the mountain bikers throw themselves down the same slopes - this glen has some truly wild and wonderful downhill trails.

Glen Etive

Glen Etive Valley

Hiding round Buachaille Etive Mor's other flank is Glencoe's less-visited but equally wonderful neighbour, Glen Etive. James Bond drove up and over Rannoch Moor and down this steep, snaking ravine to return to his childhood home in the movie Skyfall.

The Great Glen

Couple walking on the Great Glen Route

The Great Glen is a colossal fracture in the earth that splits the Scottish Highlands in two, from Fort William to Inverness. You can admire its hills and lochs by walking or cycling along the 79 miles (127 km) of the Great Glen Way. Stop for a bite and a beer at Fort Augustus and watch the boats navigate the locks of the Caledonian Canal into Loch Ness, one of Scotland's natural wonders. Loch Ness contains more water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. It is 23 miles (37 km) long and is deeper than the North Sea. Is there really a monster within its depths? Come and find out for yourself!

Glen Lyon

Glen Lyon

Spread out your picnic blanket beside the old yew tree at Fortingall and you're having lunch exactly as Roman soldiers did 2,000 years ago. The yew tree is one of the oldest trees in Europe, and may be up to 5,000 years old. Pop into the nearby Fortingall Hotel for a drink and you may hear the story that Pontius Pilate was born near the tree and often played beneath its branches. The yew is just one of the wonders in stunning Glen Lyon.