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Glencoe needs no introduction. Scotland’s most famous glen is a spectacular location and well known for its bloody history and extraordinary scenery.
The landscape 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.
However its history dates back some 430 million years when much of Glen Coe was formed through volcanic activity, shaping its iconic peaks.
The landform of Glencoe and Lochaber also began to take shape around this time when the 2 continents of Laurentia (which now forms much of Canada) and the Avelonia (carrying England and part of Northern Europe) collided to form the Great Glen fault.
Around 20,000 years ago, when Scotland was at its coldest, only the summit of Ben Nevis poked above the ice pack while Glencoe remained under an ice sheet until 11,500 year ago when it began to grind the mountains and scour the glens.
Yet this weathering and erosion met its match with the more resistant great granite peaks of mountains such as the Aonach Eagach and the iconic Buachaille Etive Mor.
What this illustrates is the outstanding geological heritage of Glencoe, a fact that has seen it form part of the Lochaber Geopark, one of only three geoparks in Scotland (the other two are the Northwest Highland and Shetland Geoparks).
The wildlife thriving within this diverse backdrop includes golden and white-tailed sea eagle, red deer, bottle-nosed dolphin, minke whale, otter, puffin, storm petrel as well as mosses, lichens and a vast selection of wildflowers.
What remains is a landscape of astonishing beauty, one of great importance to the flora and fauna that calls the area home, and a truly exceptional walking destination.