The Lost Valley, one of the hidden treasures of Glencoe where you will feel the power of nature surrounded by the magnificent Three Sisters mountains. Named Coire Gabhail in Scottish Gaelic, this incredible part of Scotland can only be seen by climbing up the treacherous trails to reach the hidden valley.
Park up across from the Three Sisters and walk down into the Glencoe valley, following the paths through the centre of two of the three peaks to reach the hidden valley. This walk may only be 4km but it is not for the faint hearted.
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The Lost Valley Glencoe - A Complete Guide to the Hidden Valley
The hike to the Lost Valley is a great place to visit if you are in the Glencoe region. In less than 2 hours, you are transported from the busy main road through Glencoe to a part of Scotland that is hidden from sight.
In this guide to the Lost Valley, we will tell you how you can find the valley, as well as how to prepare for your trip. Listed below is a brief list of the contents of this complete guide to the Lost Valley.
- What is the Lost Valley?
- Where is the Lost Valley?
- How to get to the Lost Valley?
- Why Should I go to the Lost Valley?
- When Should I go to the Lost Valley?
- Preparing for your trip to Glencoe.
What is the Lost Valley?
The Lost Valley which is known in Scottish Gaelic as Coire Gabhail, is a hidden valley surrounded by the Three Sisters that was used as a cattle hiding place for the MacDonalds of Glencoe, who escaped the 1692 massacre.
The walk starts at the car park across from the Three Sisters and follows a steep path which at some points will require some scrambling and a river crossing. The end result is well worth the intimidating climb as you are faced with a large open valley in amongst the mountains.
Great care is required when climbing up to the Lost Valley. There is a very steep 50ft drop from the narrow path which can be slippery during wet weather conditions. If there has been heavy rainfall or snowmelt the fast flowing river may also be uncrossable. We would advise following the same guidance that is recommended for keeping safe when munro bagging when you do this walk.
Where is the Lost Valley?
The Lost Valley sits between two of the Three Sisters mountains, just off the A82 in the Glencoe region. The Lost Valley itself is not visible until you reach the top, so when you reach the top waterfall, you will need to continue upwards until you see the base of the mountains in the distance.
The walk to the Lost Valley is 4km there and back, taking roughly around 3 hours depending on how often you stop.
Glencoe is one of the most scenic and dramatic parts of the Highlands in the west of Scotland. It is a very popular place to visit in Scotland due to it being reasonably central, connecting the city of Glasgow with Fort William, the home of Scotland’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis.
How to get to the Lost Valley?
The easiest way to get to the Lost Valley is by car. There are many car parks around the Glencoe region, the best one being right across from the Three Sisters. This car park will be extremely busy during the summer months as even those who are not going out for a hike will pull in to enjoy their lunch with a view or get out and take some photos. It is worth getting there early during peak season.
Coordinates – 56.66793907259232, -4.98625806936282
Follow the path to the left through the breathtaking Glencoe valley and aim for the middle of the two peaks. At this point, the path is very clear, there may be some marshy areas if there has been wet weather but it is easy to follow.
When you reach a metal staircase, follow it down and cross over the wooden bridge.
The uphill begins on the other side as you are faced with a rock face and a metal hand rail to support you climbing up the rocks.
There are some areas with a stony staircase and the path remains relatively clear, continue to aim for the centre of the two peaks with the river on your left hand side.
The pathway becomes increasingly dangerous as you follow it alongside the river. The dramatic drop rises to 50ft with nothing but a grass verge between you and the bottom. In wet weather conditions, the path and rocks can be slippery so great care is required.
The path will flatten off as you make your way higher up the mountain, with the river being within touching distance. Keep an eye out for the stepping stones across the river as you will want to cross it to continue your way up into the Lost Valley.
If there has been heavy rainfall or snowmelt, the river may not be crossable, use safe judgement to decide whether or not it is safe to go on and keep in mind if the rain continues will you be able to get back. It is not possible to continue on the right side of the river due to the steep scree.
On the left hand side of the river is where you will need to do some mild scrambling. Hiking boots are definitely required for this walk to give you the best grip for climbing up the rocks safely.
Continue to follow the faint path and you will know you have entered the hidden valley when you are completely surrounded by mountains guarding the valley below.
Why you Should go to the Lost Valley?
The Lost Valley is an other-worldly experience in the region of Glencoe. It is not visible from the car park so the walk is required to really experience this magical place.
The Lost Valley will allow you to disconnect from the world and connect with nature as you enjoy the peaceful sounds of the waterfalls crashing below and the birds that may be flying overhead.
When you Should go to the Lost Valley?
The best time to go to the Lost Valley is on a clear dry day. The scenery is at its best when there are no low hanging clouds and the sun is giving a golden glow bouncing off the mountains.
It would not be advisable to go after heavy rainfall or snowmelt due to the rising water in the river making it impassible.
With Scotland having a quick changing weather system, it is important to check multiple weather sources before setting off on your adventure to ensure your safety on the hike. The weather up a mountain is much worse than it is on ground level. Be prepared for the potential of changing weather, by bringing waterproof layers.
Before You Leave for Glencoe
Before you head off on your trip to Glencoe, there are certain things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth trip. These include how to get around the area, including being aware of single track roads, etc., what to pack for Scotland, where to stay in the area and what travel insurance to book.
How Do I Get Around Glencoe?
Given the remote location of the Glencoe and the majority of the sights along the route, the best way to get around this road trip is by driving. There are of course other methods that are still popular, such as cycling and hiking, however, if you have a short amount of time, neither of these are very suitable.
As for public transport, there isn’t any, however many Scotland bus tours will include Glencoe in their itinerary.
If you are looking to rent a cosy, reliable, and luxurious campervan for your trip to Glencoe, we highly recommend hiring through Spaceship Rentals.
What Should I Pack for the NC500?
When it comes to packing for a trip to Glencoe there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your time in Glencoe you will probably experience at least a drizzle of rain. Due to this, the number one item on any Scotland packing list is a good waterproof jacket.
As for the rest of the year, the temperature in Scotland and the central heartlands is reasonably mild for most of the year. During the winter months, you will most likely experience snow, however, temperatures usually sit around freezing, so it is not too cold. For your reference, the average temperatures in Scotland are listed below during each season.
Spring (March, April, May) – 5-10 degrees C
Summer (June, July, August) – 15 degrees C
Autumn (September, October, November) – 5-10 degrees C
Winter (December, January, February) – 0-5 degrees C
As you can see, the weather never really gets above the teens, with anything over 25 degrees C considered a heatwave. The best way to pack for your trip to the highlands is with layers that can be added and removed as you need them. You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the colder months and will most likely need sunscreen to protect you on the long days in the open.
Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Scotland, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.
Where Should I Stay in Glencoe?
The remoteness in the highlands of Scotland will leave you with little choice of accommodation. Previously we have camped when we have stayed in Glencoe, however there are also some great hotels and quirky accommodations for a bit more comfort such as The RiverBeds Luxury Lodges with hot tubs or The Kingshouse Hotel.
What is the Best Travel Insurance?
No matter what type of adventure you are heading on, whether it is a mountain adventure or a relaxing beach destination, one thing we all need to be aware of is that accidents can happen. The last thing you want is for an unexpected medical emergency to ruin your trip of a lifetime. Luckily, that is what travel insurance is for.
Whenever we travel abroad, we get covered with World Nomad’s Travel Insurance, a reliable, friendly and extremely affordable method of covering yourself on any adventure. With years of experience working for backpackers around the globe, the service they provide is perfect for whatever type of trip you have planned.
So there you have it, a complete guide to visiting the Lost Valley. If you have been to Scotland recently, let us know how you found it in the comments below. What were your favourite sights? What did you think of the mountains in Glencoe? Where was your favourite stop? Let us know in the comments below.
If you are planning a full trip to Scotland, make sure you check out the rest of our guides and Scotland content to ensure a stress-free adventure. We will gladly answer any questions you have with regards to your trip, so either DM us or send us an email.
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