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Exploring Scotland | A drive through Glencoe

N

ow, I’m going to be totally honest here: despite the fact that I was born in Scotland and have lived here my entire life, up until this year, everything I knew about the Highlands came from:

A) Outlander.

and

B) The noughties TV show Monarch of the Glen.

And, I mean, it’s just possible that neither of those were 100% accurate in their respective portrayals of Highland life, isn’t it? Like, obviously everything in Outlander is 100% true, and that’s why I never touch standing stones if I can help it (Don’t get me wrong, I love Jamie Fraser and his clan, but then again, I also love penicillin, the internet and civil liberties, you know? But I digress…), but as for Monarch of the Glen, there was literally a person named ‘Golly’ in it? And he was a ghillie, so he was Golly-the-Ghillie? And he ended up with someone named Molly, so that would’ve been Golly and Molly, and everything I just wrote sounds totally made up now, doesn’t it?

So, I had some pre-conceived ideas about the Highlands, is what I’m saying, and the main one of these was that, once there, we basically wouldn’t be able to turn around without walking into a giant mountain. This idea, at least, I thought, was bound to be pretty accurate (Unlike the notion that everyone would have names ending in “olly”, say…) – so I was actually a little bit disappointed when we managed to drive all the way to Inverness without seeing many of the dramatic peaks I’d been imagining. Oh, we did see some mountains, obviously, but, for the most part, the landscape wasn’t hugely different to home, which came as a bit of a surprise to me.

“Where are all the mountains?” I asked Terry in confusion. “I want to see mountains, dammit!”

Then, on our way home, we drove through Glencoe.
Panoramic view of Glencoe, in the Highlands of Scotland

Now, THAT’S what I was talking about, people. THAT’S what you call mountains, and they were exactly as I’d imagined them: i.e. they looked like something right out of Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones, say. I would not have been in the least bit surprised if a fire-breathing dragon had appeared over the top of them and tried to chase down the car. Even without that particular detail, though, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking:

mountain in Glencoe, Scotland

I grew up hearing my mum’s stories about being driven through Glencoe (Which, for those of you not from around these parts is, as the name suggests, a glen which is famous both for its dramatic scenery and, well, for its historical massacre, sadly.) (Also for being the one-time home of Jimmy Savile, but we don’t like to dwell on that, for obvious reasons.) on childhood holidays. “And then we drove around a bend in the road,” she always says, “And the mist was hanging over the glen. Honestly, it was like the massacre had just happened!” Which, now I come to think of it, isn’t that great a recommendation, really, but, having seen it for myself, I know what she means: the entire valley has an otherworldy feel to it, somehow, as if you’ve stepped back in time, and are about to see Stone Age man emerging from the mists or something. It’s also just ridiculously picturesque: seriously, I can’t even tell you how many photos I currently have on my camera roll, all featuring a road surrounded by mountains. Here is one of them:

The road through Glen Coe, Scotland

As well as being one of the most iconic drives in the country (I mean, I totally just made that up, but I suspect it’s probably true…), Glencoe is also popular with hill walkers and mountain climbers, and it’s easy to see why. Unfortunately for us, the weather wasn’t on our side for this part of our trip, so we stopped only to take some quick photos – and by that I mean, “It was absolutely FREEZING, so I only got out of the car for long enough to get one photo with that mountain backdrop, then Max and I went back to sit in the warmth, while Terry took the rest”: thanks, Terry!

 

visiting Glencoe

 

photograohing Glen Coe Scotland

 

smug gits in the car

 

Speaking of photography, Glencoe is, as you can probably imagine, something of a photographer’s dream. We have friends who regularly make the drive north early in the morning, just to capture the sunrise over the mountains, and while I wouldn’t go quite that far – early mornings are not my friend – I would like to go back fairly soon, to spend a bit more time there, and get a few more shots. Because, as beautiful as it is to just drive through, I somehow don’t think I’d ever get tired of that view…

 

Glen Coe, Scotland in winter

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12 Comments
  • Anna International
    March 20, 2019

    That whole road is incredible isn’t it? I got a pic of me and Ste on those stones you’re standing on! We did it going north just as the sun was starting to set behind the mountains and it was breathtaking – we just kept saying to each other that we couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. And I got a bit addicted to hyperlapse videos of the drive too! Will definitely do again. And take more photos! x

  • Jennifer
    March 20, 2019

    How absolutely gorgeous. I always enjoy your posts about your travels around Scotland. I have been planning a dream trip there for years. Maybe one day I will make it.

  • Mariya
    March 20, 2019

    It looks so beautiful! I hope I can visit one day!

    Mariya | http://www.brunetteondemand.com/faux-fur-longline-coat/

  • Brenda
    March 20, 2019

    Woooooooowwwwwww! That looks really incredible. Must add to my “when I come to Scotland” list.

  • Mary Katherine
    March 20, 2019

    OK, the cover shot of you looks just incredibly, other-worldly, fantastic! You had me at Monarch of the Glen, really…I always wanted to smack Archie for wanting to stay in London when he could’ve been living UP THERE all the time, didn’t you? But this is a luscious post, and kudos to you both on all the great photos. It looks they must’ve filmed Skyfall just around every corner. I was lucky enough to be in Edinburgh on business a couple of years ago and we drove as far as Aviemore (lunch at the Bridge Inn, too), but didn’t make it that far. On the list, IN INK, for the next trip. Thanks SO much for sharing this great trip.

    • Amber
      March 20, 2019

      I KNOW! Archie, what were you thinking?!

  • Katie Writes Stuff
    March 21, 2019

    Argh, it’s stunning! Just the other day, I was discussing a favourite topic with my husband – ie. Where will we go first when we win the lottery, which is totally going to happen because otherwise, it’s just a company profiting from the delusion of thousands of people and how can that be right? – and I was pretty sure the Highlands would be up there on the list. Sure, it’s completely around the other side of the world, but we’d obviously be travelling business class with our amazing lottery profits, right? Anyway, now I’m convinced I have to go to the Highlands, even if I have to travel economy. How is it allowed to be so outrageously beautiful?

  • Moni
    March 21, 2019

    Three years ago my sister and I were on holiday in Glasgow and went on a day trip to Glenfinnan. (Because everything I knew about the Highlands came from “Highlander”… ahem.)
    And then we had a flat tire and were stuck in Glen Coe for hours, waiting for the breakdown lorry. Which wasn’t all that pleasant, but gave us the perfect opportunity to take pictures and pictures and pictures… It is a truly beautiful place.

  • ann fyfe
    March 21, 2019

    One of my favourite drives. I will never grow tired of that view, just amazing

  • Emma Bowles
    March 21, 2019

    Ahhhhhh it looks amazing, definitely given me some inspiration for my next trip. xx

  • Mumforce
    March 23, 2019

    Glencoe is just stunning- I used to drive through it monthly to go visit my family and I always played proper Scottish tunes….you just had too

  • Mumforce
    March 23, 2019

    Glencoe is just stunning- I used to drive through it monthly to go visit my family and I always played proper Scottish tunes….you just had too

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