Glen Coe

Glen Coe National Nature Reserve
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Panoramic view westwards along the glen towards the Three Sisters of Bidean nam Bian, with Aonach Eagach on the right
Map showing the location of Glen Coe National Nature Reserve
Map showing the location of Glen Coe National Nature Reserve
The location of Glen Coe within Highland
LocationHighland, Scotland
Coordinates56°40′08″N 5°01′34″W / 56°40′08″N 5°01′34″W / 56.669; -5.026
Area56.3 km2 (21.7 sq mi)[1]
DesignationScottish Natural Heritage
OwnerNational Trust for Scotland

Glen Coe (Scottish Gaelic: Gleann Comhann,[2] pronounced [klan̪ˠˈkʰo.ən̪ˠ]) is a glen of volcanic origins,[3] in the Highlands of Scotland. It lies in the north of the county of Argyll, close to the border with the historic province of Lochaber, within the modern council area of Highland. The scenic beauty of the glen has led to its inclusion in the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Area,[4] one of 40 such areas in Scotland.[5] A review of the national scenic areas by Scottish Natural Heritage in 2010 made reference to the "soaring, dramatic splendour of Glen Coe",[3] and "the suddenness of the transition between high mountain pass and the lightly wooded strath" in the lower glen.[3] It also described the journey through the glen on the main A82 road as "one of the classic Highland journeys".[3] The main settlement is the village of Glencoe located at the foot of the glen.[6] The glen is regarded as the home of Scottish mountaineering[7] and is popular with hillwalkers and climbers.

On the 13 February 1692, in the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising of 1689, an incident known as the Massacre of Glencoe took place in the glen. Thirty-eight men from Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by government forces who were billeted with them on the grounds that they had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William II and Mary II.[8]

The Glen is named after the River Coe which runs through it. The name of the river may predate the Gaelic language as its meaning is not known although it is possible that the name stems from an individual personal name, Comhan (genitive Comhain).[9] Another theory gives 'glen of the dogs'.[citation needed]


Coire nan Lochan, a corrie of Bidean nam Bian on the southern side of Glen Coe

The glen is U-shaped, formed by an ice age glacier,[10] about 12.5 km (7.8 mi) long with the floor of the glen being less than 700 metres (0.43 mi) wide, narrowing sharply at the "Pass of Glen Coe".[6]

The entrance to the glen from the west is below the foot of Buachaille Etive Beag just west of Lochan na Fola, from where waters run east to Loch Leven via the River Coe.[6] The river — Ossian's "dark Cona"[11] — passes over waterfalls at the Pass of Glen Coe before flowing down to the small Loch Achtriochtan. Loch Achtriochtan is Loch Trychardan (loch of the three friends or relatives) in Timothy Pont's map of the area.[12] After the loch the river turns north west, passing through Glencoe village, before flowing into the sea loch of Loch Leven (a salt-water arm of Loch Linnhe) at Invercoe.

The area to east of Lochan na Fola is often classed as part of Glen Coe (see for example the location of Glencoe ski centre), but is in fact part of the upper reaches of Glen Etive.[6]

The south side of the glen is marked by a succession of distinct peaks: Buachaille Etive Beag at the eastern end, followed by the Three Sisters, shoulders of the Bidean nam Bian massif which are subdivided by Coire Gabhail and Coire nan Lochan. The name Coire Gabhail (corrie of the bounty, or hollow of capture) refers to former times when the corrie was used by members of Clan Macdonald to hide cattle and other livestock, whether their own or stolen from others. The wide flat glen is well suited for this purpose since from Glen Coe it appears to be a normal v-shaped glen approached only by a steep narrow gorge.[13][14] Summits in the Bidean nam Bian massif include Stob Coire Sgreamhach, Stob Coire nan Lochan and Aonach Dubh (the third "sister").[6]

By contrast the north side of the glen is a stark wall of mountain, the Aonach Eagach ridge. The ridge is crossed at the eastern end by the Devil's Staircase, an old military road opposite Buachaille Etive Mòr. The western end terminates with the conical Pap of Glencoe (Sgùrr na Cìche), above Glencoe village, at the point where the glen opens out to Loch Leven.[6]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Glen Coe
brezhoneg: Gleann Comhann
català: Glen Coe
Cebuano: Glen Coe
čeština: Glen Coe
Deutsch: Glen Coe
español: Glen Coe
euskara: Glen Coe
français: Glen Coe
Gàidhlig: Gleann Comhann
Bahasa Indonesia: Glen Coe
Nederlands: Glen Coe
norsk nynorsk: Glen Coe
português: Glen Coe
русский: Гленко
suomi: Glen Coe
svenska: Glen Coe