In the heart of the Western Highlands, Glencoe offers some of the finest mountain scenery in Scotland. Towering above the long glen, several rugged peaks and ridges rise to heights well over 3000 feet (914 metres) that have long attracted walkers and climbers to their many challenging routes and this area is regarded as the spiritual home of Scottish mountaineering.
The impressive landscape is derived from very ancient rocks and an era of volcanic activity followed by glacial erosion. Glencoe lies within the extensive Lochaber Geopark, established in recognition of its exceptional geological history.
The notorious Massacre of Glencoe took place in February 1692 when government soldiers of the Campbell clan had for ten days been billeted on the homes of the MacDonalds who felt bound to give them hospitality. On 12 February the soldiers received secret instructions to “kill all MacDonalds under 70 years of age” and they rose at 5 am next day to murder 38 of their sleeping hosts.
The government order had been triggered by the late signing of an oath of allegiance to King William by the MacDonald Clan Chief. The delay reflected the MacDonalds’ reluctance to sign because of connections to the Jacobite cause, but many mistakes and genuine obstacles had compounded the delay.
Many MacDonalds escaped, but some perished in the winter blizzard, whilst a handful managed to flee into a small, hidden glen in the mountains – Coire Gabhail or the Lost Valley.
The treacherous murder of MacDonald men, women and children led to a parliamentary inquiry that condemned it.
The National Trust for Scotland purchased the lands of Glencoe in the early 1930s with funds donated by the Scottish Mountaineering Club. A visitor centre is located at the western end of Glencoe and in memory of the Campbell’s treachery, a sign at the old Clachaig Inn at Glen Coe still says ‘No Campbells’.