Glencoe#2 in Best Things To Do in Scottish Highlands
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- 2.5Food Scene
You may hear the word "glen" a lot during your trip to the Scottish Highlands. A glen is another word for a narrow valley and the Highlands is filled with them. The most popular glen for visitors – not to mention one of the most popular attractions in the Scottish Highlands – is Glencoe. Glencoe is situated 23 miles south of Ben Nevis along Loch Leven in the central Highlands. The valley is consistently lauded by both travelers and locals for its awe-inspiring landscape, with many recent visitors describing its terrain as "out of this world." The A82 highway conveniently cuts right through the verdant Glencoe valley. Many visitors report only driving through Glencoe due to time constraints, but many express regret at not being able to explore this stunning area more. Luckily, if you are short on time, travelers do say the scenic drive certainly impressed and there are multiple viewing spots along the highway.
If you do have time to explore Glencoe, you'll find the area offers spectacular hikes and great water activities on Loch Leven. The Coire Gabhail, or Lost Valley hike, is a popular 2 ½-mile trail that weaves through a wooded gorge between some of Glencoe's munros and ends in a wide, open valley tucked away from the view of the highway. If you want to hike to the top of a munro, try the 5-mile-long Buachaille Etive Beag or the 7-mile-long Bidean nam Bian for sweeping views of the Glencoe valley.
If you aren't looking to work up too much a sweat, there are several low level walks that show off the area's gorgeous geography. "Harry Potter" fans will delight in a stroll along the road leading to Glencoe's Clachaig Inn, where Hagrid's hut was built. There's also the Glencoe Lochan Trail, a 1 ½-mile walk that takes visitors through the woodlands of Glencoe, ultimately leading to the serene lochan, which is a small, inland loch.
The easiest way to get around Glencoe is by car. Glencoe does not have a train station but Stagecoach offers routes to Glencoe from Fort William. If you want to get to different trailheads in Glencoe, some of which can be found off of the A82, keep in mind there is no local bus service that can take you there. For more information on Glencoe, visit the tourism board's website.
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#1 Isle of Skye
If you only had time to visit one part of the Scottish Highlands, let it be the Isle of Skye. Located on the west coast of the Highlands, Skye is the largest island of the Inner Hebrides. The island is filled to the brim with otherworldly landscapes. There's a lot to see on this island, but travel experts and visitors say you can't leave without peeping these gems: the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr, Neist Point and the Fairy Pools.
The Quiraing is the perfect introduction to Skye's spellbinding geography. As you descend down the Quiraing, you'll be greeted with sweeping views of stunning geography: Cracked plateaus with craggy cliffsides lead the way to an expansive valley of verdant rolling hills, stately rock formations and alpine lakes. Situated 13 miles south is the Old Man of Storr, a single, pinnacle-shaped rock which stands out for its looks; it's so tall and distinct, it can easily be spotted from sea level miles away.
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