Sixteen miles south of Fort William on the A82, breathtakingly beautiful Glen Coe (literally “Valley of Weeping”) is the best known of the Highland glens: a spectacular mountain valley between velvety-green conical peaks, their tops often wreathed in cloud, their flanks streaked by cascades of rock and scree. In 1692 it was the site of a notorious massacre, in which the MacDonalds were victims of a long-standing government desire to suppress the clans. When clan chief Alastair MacDonald missed the deadline of January 1, 1692, to sign an oath of allegiance to William III, a plot was hatched to make an example of “that damnable sept”. Campbell of Glenlyon was ordered to billet his soldiers in the homes of the MacDonalds, who for ten days entertained them with traditional Highland hospitality. In the early morning of February 13, the soldiers turned on their hosts, slaying between 38 and 45, and causing more than three hundred to flee.
Beyond the small village of GLENCOE at the western end of the glen, the glen itself (a property of the National Trust for Scotland since the 1930s) is virtually uninhabited, and provides outstanding climbing and walking. Enlightening ranger-led guided walks leave from the centre a mile south of the village, which also has an exhibition with a balanced account of the massacre alongside some entertaining material on rock and hill-climbing down the years. A cabin area provides information on the local weather and wildlife, and a café sells good cakes.