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Glen Coe >  Google™ Map May 2017+  Highland Coat of Arms

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May 2017+

"Spectacular Scottish valley with significant historical interest within the designated National Scenic Area of Ben Nevis and Glen Coe", they say.

Highland Coat of Arms

It's a spectacular Scottish valley with significant historical interest within the designated National Scenic Area of Ben Nevis and Glen Coe, alright, but more on that in a minute.

A few miles east of the village of Glencoe, you'll pass Jimmy Saville's old cottage by the A82. Boarded and whitewashed, the graffiti's no longer visible and with that elephant nipped in the bud, here's an equally sinister area to try and describe.

Back east and up the rise from Tyndrum, the A82 skirts Rannoch Moor, 50 square miles of mountain-fringed, upland bog.

Near Glen Coe - Rannoch Moor

Pitted with innumerable pitch and peat-black puddles, Thomas Telford, no less, proposed that the road should go across here rather than run west through Glen Coe.

Even Telford's genius couldn't crack that engineering nut but they would manage with a train nearly 100 years later.

Home to two stations, Corrour is the highest and the most remote in the UK with no public road for 10 miles although Rannoch station does have a tearoom and you can drive to it.

The West Highland Line is considered to be the most scenic in the world but based on previous visits, there'll be a fair bit of window wiping required.

Near Glen Coe - Rannoch Moor
Near Glen Coe - Rannoch Moor

In fact, with the sun on your back, the whole place isn't nearly so captivating.

As for the most scenic in the world, not SlyBob's words but the words of ScotRail™, no less.

Heading west towards Glen Coe, here he is, Buachaille Etive Mòr, the 'Great Herdsman of Etive', the guardian of the glen.

Glen Coe - Buachaille Etive Mòr

He has a fearsome reputation and at least nine experienced climbers have died in avalanches alone but he just challenges you to climb.

Like a kebab-clenching, post-pub hoodlum... 'C'MON THEN! C'MON!'

It was therefore simultaneously impressive and disappointing, but only with ourselves, really, to hear a normally diffident friend claim to have been up there. Yes, you do need a head for heights, they say, so it's not for SlyBob and the wobblies are being gotten just looking at that!

Glen Coe - Buachaille Etive Mòr

That's on a good day, as well, he normally looks like this so just be happy enough to know where he lives and to think you can pronounce it properly.

The first Jacobite rebellion of 1688 saw a load of lads from round here eventually lose face, and some limbs, to the English-led forces of King William III. Their involvement in the attempts to restore the exiled and Catholic King James II, VII in Scotland, to the throne would be pardoned if an oath of allegiance was taken to Oranjeboom Bill.

Alastair MacIain, the 12th Chief of Glencoe was this area's representative and set off for Fort William only to be told to head back south to Inveraray. Even with today's A82, it's a bit of a trek and although the oath was eventually taken, the deadline was technically missed.

Two months later, a small army regiment with English loyalties pitched up in Glen Coe, home to the McDonald clan who met the Campbell-led company with some traditional, Highland hospitality and no, that's not meant to be ironic.

Despite neither side seeming to know why they were here, the party continued for a fortnight until the arrival of a mysterious Captain Drummond and early next morning, February 13, 1692, 38 McDonalds were either murdered in their beds or slain as they fled.

That's this history flunker's understanding of events but the real reason for this, including the late introduction of the plot-driving Drummond character, isn't? What is also known is that another 40 women and children perished from the cold after their homes were burnt down and the story endures to this day.

So much so, up in Fort William nearly 20 years ago and a local news item had a pair of rival, Lochaber councillors reportedly having to cooperate in some way. The local rag had them pictured trying to strangle each other and their names?

Campbell and McDonald, of course, and although there was an advert for a plumber underneath, it was still deemed 'newsworthy' over 300 years later.

As the road descends, you're reminded of the massacre, the faces of long-dead McDonalds stare down at you from the crags. The summits are in and out of cloud and the mists of time transport you back, it is 1692!

Glen Coe - The Three Sisters
Glen Coe - The Three Sisters

That's until you remember the ski-lift that was passed on the way in.

Remember the West Highland Way? You know, the 100-mile-long trek from Milngavie to Fort William?

Well, it winds into Glen Coe past the ski-lifts, not shown, and the new, mountain 'resort' although some people have been heard to bang on a bit too much about it including a bus being involved to Crianlarich and plans to do it all again being currently on hold.

Glen Coe - Mountain Resort

Others simply describe this as their favourite leg citing 'romantic' and 'bleak' although tomorrow, a different kind of adjective will be used to describe the lug up the Devil's Staircase.

If you're on 'the way', you'll miss Glencoe village, which is rather less dramatic.

It acts as a base for the adventurous who are likely to be bagging Munros of which there's a good concentration north and south and rugged ones at that.

Bob once tagged along on such a mission, the leader of which had the posture and agility of a mountain goat. The starting point was Ballachulish and, soon trailing in the wake, right near the top of Sgorr Dhearg, the one on the right, was where the wobblies were first felt to kick in and yes, that'll be the old vertigo.

The summit might not have been made but enough energy was considered expended to warrant some points.

There are 282 Munros in total with obsessive outdoor-types trying to bag the lot. Thanks to Sgorr Dhearg, SlyBob's combined current tally is stalled on 7½.

Let's be honest, it's unlikely to get any higher than that.