The landscape of Glencoe comes into its own throughout the winter months. During the season snow and ice invariably cling to the summits of iconic mountains such as Bidean nam Bian, the Aonach Eagach and the stunning Buachaille Etive Mor. These craggy, steep mountains envelop the glen, striking over 3000 feet towards the sky to such an extent that the low winter sun struggles to climb above the tops, giving the glen a brooding atmosphere all of its own.
This mood is heightened when the glens infamous past comes to light. The Massacre of Glencoe took place on the 13th of February 1692 and saw the brutal slaying of 38 members of the McDonald clan by 120 men, led by Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, after the MacDonald’s had failed to pledge allegiance to King William.
The winter months may spell the end for many wishing to climb the big peaks but there are still a number of enjoyable, low-level routes.
Perhaps the best is a short, straightforward walk around gorgeous Glencoe Lochan. The initial stage of the walk is through attractive woodland where views are limited but the wildlife is impressive. However upon reaching the lochan the vista is remarkable.
Many of the conifers that punctuate the woodland around Glencoe Lochan were planted by Lord Strathcona, who was born in Scotland but emigrated to Canada at the age of 18. He returned to Scotland several years later with his Canadian wife, Isabella. At this time they acquired Glencoe Estate but Isabella felt homesick. Therefore, her husband tried his best to re-create the Canadian forest environment by planting many trees in order for her to feel at home. Unfortunately the plan did not work and they both eventually returned to Canada but they did leave behind a beautiful woodland legacy.
Listen out for the rat-tat-tat of the woodpecker, the calls of tawny owls or the rustle of undergrowth from a startled roe deer.