Time for a wild weekend? Challenge yourself in the heart of the Scottish Highlands
The perfect isosceles triangle of a mountain, Buachaille Etive Mor is an icon of Glencoe. The glen itself stretches east from the shores of Loch Leven to Rannoch Moor, a cleft through dramatic scenery with brooding mountains, lochs and towering waterfalls.
There are eight Munros (peaks over 3,000-feet) in Glencoe, and a dizzying array of outdoor activities, from skiing to hiking, climbing, downhill mountain biking and even marathon running.
As a landscape it’s rugged, remote, beautiful and thrilling.
The route may be gruelling, but the views along the Glencoe Marathon are sensational and the pride of completion will last long in the memory. It’s an off-road course over the full 26.2-mile marathon distance from Glencoe to Fort William, passing through Glen Nevis below the mighty Ben.
Brace yourself for 1,608m of ascent, including the Devil’s Staircase, a punishing 500m climb over the formidable Aonach Eagach Ridge.
It’s not an event for the faint-hearted, ill-prepared or PB seeker, but it is a cracking challenge. glencoemarathon.co.uk
Road cycle here Unpredictable weather and the need to share roads with potentially busy holiday traffic has restricted road cycling in this area, but plan your route smartly and it’s possible to map out days of spellbinding mountain cycling in the area.
Next May, Scotland’s Tour of the Highlands Cycle Sportive takes place over three days, covering 300 miles as it links five ski centres in the Highlands. Day one starts in Glencoe just a couple of miles to the east of Buachaille Etive Mor, and by the end of the third day riders will have pedalled up more ascent than any other three-day ride in this country.
The Tour of the Highlands takes place in May, tourhighlands.wordpress.com
Mountain bike here
Whether you’re a cross-country rider looking for a mix of tracks and technical trails, or a speed-seeking downhiller, you’re spoiled for choice in Glencoe. The West Highland Way is an MTBable trail, and crosses the glen, while Glencoe Mountain Resort has black runs so steep and technical they host international competitions.
There’s also a more achievable 2km red route. A day pass gives unrestricted use of the chairlift to the top for high octane descents or access to high level plateaus for trail riding. See, glencoemountain.com
The West Highland Way is one of Britain’s favourite long distance backpacking routes, and no wonder. The national trail heads north from Milngavie, along the shores of Loch Lomond, and past Buachaille Etive Mor on its way through Glen Coe and Glen Nevis to Fort William.
It’s a 96-mile route that’s ideal for a six-day hike where the views get better by the day – see, west-highland-way.co.uk.
Or plan a day’s walk up Buachaille Etive Mor or the striking Three Sisters.
Ordnance Survey Explorer 384 Glencoe and Glen Etive cover the area.
Plan your visit
There’s camping (or hire a microlodge) at Glencoe Mountain Resort (glencoemountain.com), with prices from £6 per adult per night. Nearby, try the Kings House Hotel (kingshousehotel.co.uk) where doubles including breakfast cost from £90 per night, or the Clachaig Inn (clachaig.com), where rates rise from £48pppn including breakfast.