Glencoe, Scotland may be the Highlands most famous glen. It is most well known for the 1692 massacre of Clan MacDonald, but today is a popular hiking destination. In today’s post, I’ll explore this region and share a few photos (taken by me back when I was an exchange student!).
History of Glencoe, Scotland
Glencoe, or A Charnaich in Scots Gaelic, was home to the MacDonald clan. Clans in Scotland were kinship groups, recognisable by their tartans (plaids), but not necessarily of the same ancestor. Often, and especially when surnames became a “thing” in the 16th century, tenants took their clan leader’s name as a surname. This happened for various reasons. Protection could have been one, or simplicity, or even to show solidarity.
The MacDonalds were a well known clan. In the years following the revolution, the MacDonalds were pro-Stuart, something that historically hasn’t boded well for the Scots. When William and Mary came to the throne, all clan chiefs were required to sign an oath. Storms prevented the MacDonald chief from doing so, and so pro-Orange clans descended on them.
The massacre of Glencoe
Ostensibly, however, they were there to collect the taxes. In true Highland fashion, the MacDonalds offered hospitality and beds during the storm, but the story takes a turn for the worse.
In the wee hours of the morning of 13 February 1692, his guests, the Campbell clan, murdered 40+ men, women, and children in their beds. Most of the MacDonalds did manage to escape, but died due to exposure in the winter hills, since the Campbells burned the village down.
Glencoe is one of the Scottish Highlands most easily accessible destinations in addition to being well known. It is about two hours from Glasgow on the A82, or accessible by train from Glasgow’s Queen Street Station. CityLink buses also run through the pass.
If you are a fit hiker, the West Highland Way may be attractive, and I will definitely talk about that at some point. In addition to the WHW, there is excellent hiking in the Rannoch Moor, to the summit of Ben Nevis, and around Fort William and the Arasaig beaches.
There are plenty of accommodations in Glencoe, from quaint bed and breakfasts to luxurious Virtuoso hotels. Should you choose to travel by train, most will be able to meet you at the station or arrange a private taxi to get you to the hotel.