The Glencoe area and the Massacre of Glencoe
If you arrive in the Fort William and Lochaber area from the south - on the A82 over Rannoch Moor - it is the dark, majestic mountains of Glencoe which will greet you.
However, as you drive past the buttresses of Meall a'Bhuiridh and get your first real view of the towering Buchaille Etive Mor - the Great Shepherd of Etive - a shiver may run down your spine. It may be a shiver of anticipation if you are here to climb or a shiver of sorrow if you recall the treacherous massacre with which Glencoe is forever associated. Or perhaps, for first time visitors at least, a shiver of awe as the mountains rise up to dominate your passage through the glen.
If you wish to explore this area, then an interesting diversion can be made down Glen Etive through the scattered settlement of Dalness to Loch Etive. Or you might prefer to get a bird's eye view of the area and the chairlift at the Glencoe Ski Centre can offer you just that. A 15-minute trip whisks you up to 2400 feet from where you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views. During winter, of course, the centre is one of Scotland's leading ski resorts but whatever time of year you visit, you might want to pop into the Museum of Scottish Skiing and Mountaineering which contains interesting exhibits, photographs, and memorabilia of the great outdoors.
Further down the glen, in a spectacular setting on the banks of the River Coe, the National Trust for Scotland's Glencoe Visitor Centre provides an interesting introduction to the area. The centre includes a display on mountaineering, a shop, a snack bar and picnic area. Of course, it also tells the story of the infamous massacre.
Following his succession to the throne, William III tried to get all the Highland clans to swear an oath of allegiance by 1 January 1692. After much hesitation the Jacobite clans of the west Highlands agreed to do so, but MacIain of Glencoe, chief of a small branch of Clan Donald, left his journey too late and arrived in Inveraray after the deadline. The government decided that the rebellious clan should be made an example of, and sent the loyal Campbell Earl of Argyll's Regiment to Glencoe, where they spent two weeks billeted with the locals awaiting their orders. On 5 February the fateful orders arrived and early the next morning the soldiers turned on their erstwhile hosts, killing MacIain and 37 of his clansmen in a botched attempt at government-sanctioned genocide.
A fascinating visit if you have time, is to MacDonald's Island located just along from Glencoe Village in Loch Leven. Be careful not to scare of the breeding terns when they are in season and there is usually a notice to that effect on one side of the Island. On the Island you can walk amongst the gravestones and think about what trauma and tragedy there must have been in the aftermath of the massacre.
Nearby, the village of Ballachulish the local Tourist Information Centre has a number of intepretive displays telling the story of the Ballachulish Slate Quarries.
Meanwhile, if you travel east to the head of Loch Leven, where the famous West Highland Way winds through the village of Kinlochleven, you will discover that the Kinlochleven Visitor Centre tells another tale of the area's surprising industrial heritage in 'The Aluminium Story'.
The Glencoe area is packed with some of the beautiful hills and scenery in Scotland and it is no wonder that many hollywood films have been made in the area. Click here for more details.