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The Valley of Glencoe, Scottish Highlands

  • Posted: Apr 30, 2011
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First Glimpse of Glencoe

When you come from Crianlarich, following the A82, direction Fort William, you enter an extraordinarily scenic valley.The first shock is when appears Beinn Dorain, a majestuous mountain with nicely rounded slopes. Then, after climbing the road around the beautiful Loch Tulla, the road goes between Loch Ba to the right, and Loch Nah Achlaise to the left. Find a place to stop and admire this superb loch, with Black Mount in the background, and on a small island in the middle of the loch, probably the most photographed tree in Scotland, a superb Rowan tree, looking like a giant bonsai, alone on the moor. Then it is Rannoch Moor, with its ever changing light, often decorated with rainbows. You can now see on the left the also famous Black Rock Cottage, a nice lonely croft with its white walls and chimneys, and black roofs. In the distance appears next the extraordinary Buachaille Etive Mor (in Gaelic : the Great Shepherd of Etive), at the corner of Glen Etive to the left and the entry to the Glencoe valley. The river Coupall, flowing at the foot of Buachaille Etive Mor, is buoyant with rapid waters in winter. On the right is the Devil’s Staircase, an old military (pedestrian) road that climbs the mountain to provide a shortcut to Kinlochleven.

Now we really enter into Glencoe, the land of Clan Donald of Glencoe. We can admire the soft slopes of Buachaille Etive Beag (the Little Shepherd of Etive) on the left, and then the valley narrows to cross the Glencoe River and its falls at the Pass of Glencoe. This river was called “dark Cona” by Ossian, the legendary poet that was said to be the son of the Giant Fingal, who won an epic battle against the Vikings on the west of the valley.

Three Sisters of Glencoe

We then discover the Three Sisters, shoulders of the Bidean Nam Bian massif. Between two of the Sisters lies the Hidden Valley of Allt Coire Gabhail where the McDonalds used to hide their cattle, as well as those that they occasionally stole from the Campbell’s. On the right, the valley is barred by the Aoanch Eagach ridge, a string of sharp mountains. In these mountains, the Clan Donald warriors could hide easily, to prepare traps for the possible invaders coming from Dalness in Glen Etive, or from the east. Then the valley widens to make place for the calm and beautiful Loch Achtriochtan, with the big Sgor nam Fiannaidh (the mountain of Fingal) to the north, and the pass to Glen Creran to the south-west. Having passed Signal Rock, a small hill where the head of the MacDonald’s would address his clan, and where it is said that the signal was sent to the infamous Campbell’s to start the Massacre of Glencoe.

We now arrive to the place called Invercoe, where there was the old Clan Donald villages: Achnacon to the south-west, Carnoch along the river, Invercoe at the mouth of the river, and Laroch and Breklet on the shores of Loch Leven. Now to end the article, a little legend: “Along Bidean nam Bian and Aonach Eagach, on every mountain in Scotland, three thousand of the Feinn are sleeping. Their breathing is the wind, and one day they will arise at the call of Fingal’s horn” (supposedly written by Ossian, in Ossian’s cave above Loch Achtriachtan).

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Mountains In Scotland

  • Posted: Oct 27, 2010
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Mountains of Scotland

Buachaille Etive Mor, The Great Herdsman of EtiveThe mountains of Scotland are usually the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the Highlands and Scotland is the most mountainous country in the United Kingdom. The mountains across the Highlands vary in looks from gentle sweeping slopes and plateaus to craggy and dangerous rock faces that challenge some of the world’s best rock climbers, the Mountains even offer great skiing during the winter months.

Some of the most well-known mountain ranges are The Cairngorms, Grampians, Cuillins, and the magnificent mountains around Glencoe, that is home to Buachaille Etive Mòr with its triangular shape best typifies what a mountain should look like. it is located south of Glencoe on the A82 close to the junction of Glen Etive.

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is Scotland’s highest mountain and is located close to Fort William, it is also the highest mountain in the UK at 4,409 ft. In fact 10 of the United Kingdom’s highest mountains are all in Scotland. Ben Nevis can be climbed all year round, but special care should be taken during the winter. The mountain can be easily accessed from Fort William heading down the road to Glen Nevis, There are many places to stay in Fort William and you will find many walkers or climbers who know Ben Nevis well, If you are unsure and not experienced in walking mountains, try to get a guide or walk with someone who has done Ben Nevis before. Many people make the mistake of heading to the foot of the mountain on a nice sunny day in Fort William, and get caught out at the top of the mountain with weather they did not expect. It is much higher than it looks, so do not underestimate Ben Nevis.

 

Scotlands Highest Mountains

  1. Ben Nevis 4409 ft
  2. Ben Macdui 4295 ft
  3. Braeriach 4252 ft
  4. Cairn Toul 4236 ft
  5. Sgor an Lochain Uaine 4127 ft
  6. Cairn Gorm 4081 ft
  7. Aonach Beag 4049 ft
  8. Aonach Mor 4006 ft
  9. Carn Mor Dearg 4003 ft
  10. Ben Lawers 3983 ft

Mountains in Scotland that are over 3000 feet are known as Munros, these where named after Hugh Munro who collated a list of mountains over the height of 3000 ft and named it Munro’s tables.

Cuillin Mountains

Loch Coruisk, Cuillin mountainsThe Isle of Skye is host to one of Scotland’s most spectacular range of mountains named the Cuillins the highest point of the Cuillin mountains is Sgurr Alasdair standing at 3255 feet, these mountains are very rugged and fantastic to look at, anyone seeing these mountains for the first time would be excused for thinking they where standing somewhere else but the British Isles, they make one of the most fantastic vistas anywhere in Europe.

Cairngorm Mountains

The Cairngorm mountains are well known for the winter skiing available during Scotland’s winter, the Cairngorms sit proudly in the Cairngorm National Park overlooking Aviemore, the mountains are a large plateau and have the largest volume of snow of all the mountains in Scotland, in fact the Cairngorms are home to five of the highest six mountains in Scotland.

cairngorm mountainsI have named only a few mountain ranges available to you in Scotland, and there are many more to visit when you are on holiday in Scotland in the winter or the summer. So don’t forget your camera when you visit Scotland and take some of the most fantastic pictures you will ever own. But also be careful venturing onto the  mountains of Scotland as they can be a very unpredictable place, especially during the winter months when the mountain weather can change without much notice. Always let someone know when you are venturing onto the mountains to walk or take photographs, and let them know a time when you are expected to return. Do not go unprepared and always wear the correct clothing and take necessary tools with you like maps, compass, warm clothing and food.

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