Hiking to a Hidden Valley

# travel# photography

Claire and I took our friend Leilani into the highlands on Saturday. Leilani said she wanted to see some dramatic Scottish landscapes, so we brought her to Glencoe.

Claire and Leilani stand on the mountainside

Glencoe is one of Scotland’s most famous landscapes. Paintings and photographs of this dramatic valley evoke a sense of desolate wildness. In truth, Glencoe is very accessible. One of Scotland’s main highways runs through the glen. The drive from Edinburgh to most of the West Coast takes you through Glencoe.

A path winds through Glencoe

But Scottish highways aren’t like Canadian highways. Most of them are two-land roads that meander through mountains and valleys. As soon as we exited the roadway toward the gorge that cuts through Glencoe, we lost sight of the road, and the sound of passing cars and trucks faded under the sound of rushing rapids.

Two of the mountain peak of Glencoe

Three imposing peaks, called the “Three Sisters,” form Glasgow’s most famous landmark. Our hike took us up between two of the three sisters, leading to a beautiful hidden valley.

Claire and Leilani on the path

We made a long, steady climb over rocky ground, following a rushing stream. Scotland offered trademark dreary weather, with low-lying clouds raveling and unraveling around the mountains and a steady drizzle dampening the ground under our feet.

Claire standing in the Hidden Valley

At the top of the path, a completely secluded valley opened ahead of us, cradled between the dramatic mountain cliffs. We stopped to drink from a mountain stream that fed cloud water directly into our hands.

Claire and Leilani heading back to the car

On the walk back down, we sat on the slope of the mountain for a picnic, taking in the full vista of Glencoe.

© Sam Littlefair, 2023