A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Lost Valley of Glencoe

12 August 2016
A bespoke day up to the Lost Valley in Glencoe, Emma was leading...

photo 1 After a night of heavy rain the waterfalls tumbling down the mountainsides on the approach to Glencoe were looking fantastic. We met in the glen beneath the 3 Sisters of Glencoe, Beinn Fhada, the Long Hill to the east, Gearr Aonach, the Short Ridge, in the middle and Aonach Dubh or Black Ridge to the west. Our adventure was to take us up into the Lost Valley of Glencoe to explore the glen, learn about the massacre of Glencoe, and discover some of the natural history. Corrie Gabhail is a magnificent hidden valley some 230 metres up the mountain of Bidean nam Bian, its entrance blocked by massive boulders which prevented the ice escaping during the last glaciation causing a glacial lake to form behind it. The valley was used in the past by members of Clan Macdonald to hide cattle and livestock, both their own and those stolen from neighbouring clans such as the Campbells. Quite how they got the cattle up into the corrie is another matter!

photo 2 The climb up was full of interest, the heather in full bloom, with harebells and devil's bit scabious adding to the purples on the mountainside. Walking through the regenerating birch and rowan trees, we sampled some tasty blaeberries, and spotted fungi including the fly agaric and orange birch bolete. The boulders were wet from the previous night's rain and we took care above the steep edges of the gorge, though the waterfalls streaming over the ancient volcanic lava flows resulted in lots of photo opportunities as we scrambled up. The crux of our route was to be the river crossing which we knew would be in spate, however, with minimal hesitation, and a quick change of footwear for some, we were soon across the rapidly flowing knee deep river. Some more easy scrambling took us to our viewpoint across the Lost Valley.

photo 3 We were lucky to have the entire valley to ourselves and spent some time exploring, passing enormous erratics left by the ice, and crossing debris fans washed down from the upper reaches of the mountain. We identified plants such as eyebright which is characteristic of alpine and sub-alpine meadows, and is said by classical herbalists to have brain strengthening qualities and followed animals signs left by the red deer. A tasty lunch was enjoyed with some tales of the massacre of Glencoe adding spice to the setting, before heading back down our ascent route towards the glen. The route seemed very different to the way we had just climbed, and several times it was asked if we had already walked this way as it looked so different in reverse. It was a very happy party which returned to the glen after a magical day in the Lost Valley.

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