The Glencoe Waterfalls

Glen Coe / Lochaber / near Fort William, Argyll, Scotland

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 1
One of a handful of Glencoe Waterfalls in and around the Glencoe Valley

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

The Glencoe Waterfalls were my catch-all term for the handful of waterfalls that we happened to have noticed while we were driving through the scenic Glencoe Valley. We actually visited the valley twice - the first time when there was fair weather and the second time the very next day when there was bad weather. On the first visit, we actually didn't notice any waterfalls (maybe we weren't paying attention or we didn't go far enough up the valley), but on the second visit when the weather was foul, we saw many more temporary waterfalls tumbling beneath the Three Sisters Mountains as well as a few others that seemed to be more permanent.

One of these seemingly more permanent waterfalls was shown in the photo at the top of this page. This one (which also turned out to be called the Falls of Glencoe) was near the very head of Glencoe Valley near some obvious roadside pullouts or laybys. Another one was near some house at the outflow of Loch Achtriochtan in the bottom or mouth of the valley. We had somehow missed this waterfall on the first visit, but we definitely saw it flowing on the second visit as it was certainly aided by hard rain. All of these waterfalls (including the ephemeral ones) were either within view from the A82 road close enough to pullouts to consider them roadside waterfalls.

When in good weather, we were able to appreciate the attractively deep U-shaped valley where I'm quite certain a glacier must have scraped through here at some point in its past. Opposite the road were three prominent mountains called the Three Sisters. Running right through the valley was the River Coe, and we noticed quite a few people hiking alongside the river itself in the depths of the valley. But the vast majority of people seemed to be just driving by and choosing to stop at selected laybys (pullouts) yielding the grand views of the valley that we're showing you on this page. In fact, one particular pullout had a Scottish bagpipe busker drowning out some of the passing vehicle sounds with his bagpipe music.

In addition to the gorgeous scenery reminiscent of the kind of valleys we encountered along the Milford Highway in New Zealand, this place had a bit of a violent human heritage as well. For it was the site of the infamous Glencoe Massacre in February 13, 1692, where 38 people from the MacDonald Clan of Glencoe were killed by the very visitors (from the first and second companies of the Earl of Argyll) who were welcomed by those who ended up killed (betraying the tradition of hospitality that was the norm in the Highlands). The perpetrators of the massacre also burned homes resulting in the deaths of another 40 women and children from the resulting exposure to the harsh elements. The massacre was said to be motivated by the apparent failure of the Clan MacDonald to accept the ultimatum to pledge allegiance to the new monarchs, William and Mary, before a deadline following the so-called Glorious Revolution and the Jacobite Rebellion of 1689.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

In decent weather, Glencoe Valley is very scenic as shown here with two of the three sisters seen opposite the valley from the A82 roadIn decent weather, Glencoe Valley is very scenic as shown here with two of the three sisters seen opposite the valley from the A82 road
Roughly 35 minutes drive from Glencoe Valley was the town of Fort William, where we were staying, which had a charming town center area as shown hereRoughly 35 minutes drive from Glencoe Valley was the town of Fort William, where we were staying, which had a charming town center area as shown here
After powering through Glencoe in bad weather, we continued another 75 miles southeast towards the attractive Stirling Castle before settling in at GlasgowAfter powering through Glencoe in bad weather, we continued another 75 miles southeast towards the attractive Stirling Castle before settling in at Glasgow
Glasgow was a surprisingly beautiful city that had more than the Style Mile going for it as there was quite the mix of old and new in this cosmopolitan cityGlasgow was a surprisingly beautiful city that had more than the Style Mile going for it as there was quite the mix of old and new in this cosmopolitan city
Our first visit to Glencoe Valley was under good weather so we got these divine views of the steep-walled U-shaped valleyOur first visit to Glencoe Valley was under good weather so we got these divine views of the steep-walled U-shaped valley

Looking up towards the other two of the three sisters of GlencoeLooking up towards the other two of the three sisters of Glencoe

A lot of people listening to the Scottish bagpipe busker serenade at Glencoe ValleyA lot of people listening to the Scottish bagpipe busker serenade at Glencoe Valley

The very next day, the weather at Glencoe was very foul, but then these ephemeral waterfalls started to show up draped down one of the Three SistersThe very next day, the weather at Glencoe was very foul, but then these ephemeral waterfalls started to show up draped down one of the Three Sisters

Then we noticed this waterfalling cascade near the outflow of Loch Achtriochtan, which we missed yesterdayThen we noticed this waterfalling cascade near the outflow of Loch Achtriochtan, which we missed yesterday

Closer look at the suddenly impressive waterfall near the mouth of Glencoe ValleyCloser look at the suddenly impressive waterfall near the mouth of Glencoe Valley

Full context of the mysterious waterfall at the mouth of Glencoe Valley from a small car parkFull context of the mysterious waterfall at the mouth of Glencoe Valley from a small car park

At the opposite end of Glencoe Valley at its top, I had to cross the A82 road to get closer to another waterfall that we noticed, which was actually called the Falls of GlencoeAt the opposite end of Glencoe Valley at its top, I had to cross the A82 road to get closer to another waterfall that we noticed, which was actually called the Falls of Glencoe

Looking down at the slanted cascade called the Falls of Glencoe at the head of Glencoe ValleyLooking down at the slanted cascade called the Falls of Glencoe at the head of Glencoe Valley

A more contextual view of the Falls of Glencoe at the head of Glencoe ValleyA more contextual view of the Falls of Glencoe at the head of Glencoe Valley


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Focused on a distant waterfall towering above some house near the mouth of Glencoe Valley in some pretty bad weather


Left to right sweep of a cascade on the main stream (Falls of Glencoe) near the top of the valley under some pretty heavy rain


360 degree sweep of the valley revealing the Three Sisters in fair weather while being serenaded by a bagpipe busker


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From Fort William (where we were staying), we drove over 18 miles south then east towards Glencoe Valley. The first waterfall we encountered was off a small turnoff and car park to the right just downstream of the Loch Achtriochtan. The waterfall you see at the top of this page was another 3 miles further at the very top of the valley where there were a few more laybys or pullouts on the north side of the road. The lookout for that waterfall was on the opposite side of the A82 so cautious was necessary given how quickly vehicles tended to drive on this road. Overall, the drive between Fort William and the beginnings of Glencoe took us roughly 35 minutes.

From Glasgow, it would be roughly 81 miles along the M8 then onto the Great Western Road, which eventually would join up with the A82 all the way to Glencoe. This drive would easily take 2 hours or more to do the 94-mile drive.

For additional context, Fort William was about 64 miles (90 minutes to 2 hours drive) southwest of Inverness, about 108 miles (roughly 2.5-3 hours drive) drive north of Glasgow, or 133 miles (over 3 hours drive) northwest of Edinburgh.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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