The glen is U-shaped, formed by an ice age glacier, about 16 km (9.9 mi) long with the floor of the glen being less than 700 m (0.4 miles) wide, narrowing sharply at the Pass of Glen Coe about halfway along.
The entrance to the glen from above is on Rannoch Moor to the east, below the mountain of Meall a' Bhuiridh; Glen Etive runs to the south from nearby. The entrance to Glen Coe is marked by Buachaille Etive Mor, "the great herdsman of Etive" at the 'junction' with Glen Etive. Glen Coe then runs roughly west for about 12 km (7.5 mi) before turning north-west towards Loch Leven.
The south side of the glen is marked by a succession of distinct peaks: Buachaille Etive Mòr is followed to the west by Buachaille Etive Beag, then by the Three Sisters, shoulders of the Bidean nam Bian massif which itself marks the western end of the glen. By contrast the north side of the glen is a stark wall of mountain, the Aonach Eagach ridge. The Ridge is crossed at the eastern end by the Devil's Staircase, an old military road opposite Buachaille Etive Mòr. To the north of Buachaille Etive Mòr, there is Beinn a'Chrulaiste. The western end terminates with the conical Pap of Glencoe (Sgùrr na Cìche), above Glencoe village, at the point where the glen opens out to Loch Leven.
The River Coe itself rises at the north-eastern base of Buachaille Etive Beag and flows west along the glen, with dramatic waterfalls at the Pass of Glen Coe. It then runs through the small Loch Achtriochtan before it turns north west. It then passes through Glencoe village, shortly before flowing into the sea loch of Loch Leven (a salt-water arm of Loch Linnhe) at Invercoe. Loch Achtriochtan is Loch Trychardan (three friends or relatives) in Timothy Pont's map of the area. In the glen to the east of Buachaille Etive Beag, the River Coupall runs north to the head of the glen, but it swings east round the Buachaille Etive Mòr to join the River Etive running south.
Glencoe whose name Glen Coe is often said to mean "Glen of Weeping", perhaps with some reference to the infamous Massacre of Glencoe which took place there in 1692. In fact the Glen is named after the River Coe which runs through it, and bore this name long before the 1692 incident. Glencoe was the site for Scotland’s most infamous massacre in 1692, when soldiers of the Campbell clan, after receiving hospitality from the MacDonalds, slaughtered their hosts on government orders.
Glencoe is a popular area for walkers, cyclists and climbers and there are many miles of footpaths around the glen which are maintained by the National Trust. Glencoe Mountain resort, which is Scotland’s oldest ski centre, provides winter sporting opportunities for several months each year.
The area is also home to a variety of wildlife including red deer and golden eagles.
A few miles from Glencoe is Britain’s most remote railway station. This is at Corrour on Rannoch Moor and can only be reached by train!
Glencoe is about an hour’s drive from any of Cooper Cottages self-catering holiday cottages and the journey provides a scenic trip through the Scottish countryside.
A visit to Glencoe from one of our cottages would provide a good family day out while staying in the central Scotland area.