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Wer im Glencoe unterwegs ist erlebt eine Traumkulisse nach der anderen, Bild: Helen Hotson / shutterstock

The valley of Glencoe in Scotland

Glencoe is the name of a valley and a village in the west of Scotland. To distinguish the valley, it is also spelled Glen Coe and the village of Glencoe. One of Scotland’s most beautiful glens, it is located at the point where the River Coe flows into Loch Leven. The volcanic Kerb Valley combines many of the elements for which the Scottish Highlands are so famous. As beautiful as the valley is, the name Glencoe also stands for one of the most gruesome massacres in Scottish history.


The idyllic valley is flanked by majestic and rugged mountains. The shape of the mountains created the strong glaciation of Scotland during the last ice age. The River Coe, which flows through the Glencoe valley, is joined by many other small streams. They often shoot down from the mountains as waterfalls. The “Three Sisters” stand out in particular, three peaks of similar character. The entrance to the valley is marked by the rounded tip of the Pap of Glencoe.
In Glencoe, rugged mountain flanks alternate with wildflowered meadows, lined with countless streams and waterfalls. The valley is surrounded by pointed mountain peaks and plateaus.


As beautiful as the valley presents itself to the visitor today, as tragic is the history of Glencoe. This is where the massacre against the MacDonald clan took place in February 1692. The background was a change of throne in London, which the inhabitants of the Scottish Highlands only reluctantly agreed. All clans were to take an oath of allegiance to the new monarch William of Orange. However, since the MacDonald clan were still loyal to the old King James II, who was now in exile in France, they first wanted to obtain his consent. He delayed his decision because he still hoped to be able to return to Britain. There were complications between the parties involved in taking the oath, and the wintry weather also made it difficult to travel to the agreed location. The deadline had already passed. This prompted William of Orange and his followers to make an example of some of the political opponents and the MacDonald clan. The order for the massacre was given under Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon. At least 38 valley residents were killed. Since then, many have also called the valley of Glencoe the “Valley of Tears”.

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Tourism in Glencoe and the valley as a film setting

The Scottish Highlands in Glencoe
The Scottish Highlands in Glencoe, Image: Stephen Bridger / shutterstock

Nature lovers, hikers and mountaineers are magically drawn to the valley of Glencoe. In winter, skiers will find ideal conditions there. A wide network of beautiful walking trails runs through Glencoe and its side valleys and the area is home to the UK’s oldest ski area. Outdoor fans will find ideal conditions for a variety of sporting activities. It is by no means limited to hiking, climbing and mountaineering, because rivers and lakes invite you to swim and sailing is also possible. A boat trip on Loch Linnhe is also worthwhile. The valley of Glencoe is considered the gateway to the fantastic Scottish Highlands, which are not only praised again and again in many songs and poems, but are without doubt one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe. A day hike through the picturesque valley off the beaten track promises peace and solitude.

Several well-known films have been filmed in the valley of Glencoe or in its immediate vicinity, such as Highlander, Braveheart, Rob Roy, James Bond 007: Skyfall and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Therefore, the scenery of the valley will probably seem quite familiar to one or the other holidaymaker even before the start of the trip. One reason for the popularity of the valley as a film location may be the unique mountain scenery, but no less important is the special light in the morning and at dusk. In addition, there is the good air quality. Even the most well-equipped film studio could not guarantee all these conditions.

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The village of Glencoe

The town of Glencoe with a few hundred inhabitants is located outside the valley of the same name on an area called Carnoch. In the village, a memorial commemorates the tragic massacre of Glencoe. Like the entire valley, the imposing mountains in the immediate vicinity characterize the townscape of Glencoe. Of tourist importance is the Glencoe Visitor Centre, which provides information about the valley, its natural wonders and its tragic history. As inconspicuous as the place is, its immediate surroundings seem exciting.

Best time to visit the Glencoe Valley

In summer, when the pastures are bathed in lush green and the rugged mountain peaks shine in the sunlight, most tourists travel to the famous valley. But then the valley is no longer as lonely as many holidaymakers would like. Therefore, spring and autumn are recommended for a visit to Glencoe. In winter, the valley has its own charm, permeated by great silence and grandeur. The journey is often via Glasgow and Fort William.