Glencoe Photos, photography locations map, famous viewpoints and Glen Coe trip advice

18th July 2013

The Glen Coe area of the Scottish Highlands is my favourite spot for landscape photography, the possibilities within a relatively small area are numerous and the ease of access with A82 running straight through the middle make this a great spot for a trip and can be done in a day, a few days or if you have time a full week long photography holiday with subjects that will keep you busy all week. I spent a week in Glencoe in 2010 in a cottage in Glencoe village and the weather throughout the week was changeable but mainly dry and I made it out for sunrise everyday, I've also visited Glencoe on a couple of other less fruitful day trips since then on-route to other areas of the Scottish highlands including the Isle of Skye and Aviemore. Due to the fact that I had lots of time during the Glencoe holiday week I was able to visit many of the locations a few times at different times of the day so that I could capture them in the best possible conditions, on some of the mornings the weather was magical and without having the time to plan and visit at the correct time I would have missed most of it. Having the time to spend on location to capture it at it's best and in different conditions is what sets many amateur and full time photographers apart. Where a pro photographer may be able to spend a week in a certain area others have to fit photography trips into a family holiday and day trips so really depend on getting luckily with the light when you arrive rather than spending time calculating shoot times and the all important waiting for light whilst on location. I fall into the having little time for photography sector at the moment and so normally have to hope for the best when I set out on my limited photography trips throughout the year. I have to add that I find it quite fun visiting locations that I have seen in photographs, actually visiting the area gives you a great sense of scale and it's always interesting as a learning point to see where people have take photos from and how they have used the elements in the scene compared to what is actually on the ground.

Map of Landscape Photography locations around Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands

View Glencoe and Surrounding Area Photography Locations in a larger map There are many locations for photographs in the Glen Coe area all within a 20 minutes drive from accommodation at Glencoe village or in the holiday chalets, I hope this guide gives you enough information to find and explore the best spots for pictures in glen coe. The maps above is a short guide to some of the spots I have visited and that you may have seen in photographs on this website and sharing sites. The ease of access around the area makes this a popular spot for photographs as many of the locations are not far from the road and the scenery is spectacular. A photography trip to Glencoe is high on many peoples list of things to do and is an area that you can explore for whole week and still stumble across new locations and amazing viewpoints. Originating from a supervolcano and more recently sculpted by the ice age the mountains in the Glen Coe area of the Scottish Highlands are truly spectacular, the most famous listing in history involving Glen Coe was as the setting of a famous massacre in 1692 involving the MacDonald clan during the Jacobite uprising.
As you approach Glen Coe from the barren Rannoch Moor past the Glencoe Mountain Resort the first mountain you come across is the great herdsman of the Buachaille Etive Mor and the peak of Stob Dearg with its distinctive pyramid shape. This is a mountain that features in many photographs and is perfectly photogenic from a number of angles. Glen Coe is a spectacular u-shaped valley sculpted in the ice age which narrows at the spectacular Pass of Glen Coe, as you travel down Glen Coe you past a series of impressive peaks including the similar Buachaille Etive Beag range of mountains followed by the Three Sisters part of the Bidean nam Bian massif. The Buachaille Etive Mor range of mountains features in a great number of photographs, from a couple of famous viewpoints. The waterfall next to the Glen Etive road is a firm favourite and is a pleasure to visit and has become the Classic View of Stob Dearg > the elements all line up nicely at the waterfall but there does need to be a fair amount of water in the River Coupall in order for the falls to cover the whole width of the drop, something to bear in mind if you are travelling specifically for this shot. The River Coupall offers fantastic opportunities if you take a walk up the side of the river up from the waterfall, the river meanders around a series of bends and there are a number of small waterfalls to use as foreground in your shots.

Buachaille Etive Mor Moutains from the River Coupall - Glen coe
Facing away from Stob Dearg you have a completely different set of mountains to shoot, looking downstream towards Creag Dhubh this direction is perfect for sunrise shooting into the sun which in autumn is just off to the left. Early morning in Glen Coe often leads to low cloud and mist around the water particularly in autumn, when the conditions come together it really is a pleasure to be out photographing in this area which is main very quiet, the only noise comes from passing traffic over on the A82 and the stags that you can hear in rutting season.

Sunrise at the River Coupall - Glen coe
The Glencoe Ski area has a useful chair lift operating throughout the year, if you want to get high quickly there is no better way than jumping on the chair lift and getting to the middle of the mountain to start your walk up to higher altitudes. This is particularly useful if you don't have much time and are looking for a viewpoint above the valley floor. On the access road to the ski lodge is Blackrock cottage, a very famous view that you may have seen on a number of Highland Toffee tins and on Scottish merchandise. The famous scene which has been captured many times is one of the reasons many people visit the area as it typifies the feeling that you get from many areas of the Highlands.

Black Rock Cottage and Buachaille Etive Mor - Glen coe - Scotland
Further south on the A82 from Glen Coe you come across a very different scene to the drama of Glen Coe, the land opens up on Rannoch Moor and you emerge out on a moorland plateaux with lochs and bogs to go and explore. On one side of the road is Loch Ba one of the larger lochs in the area, on the other side with a grander back drop is Lochan na h-Achlaise. The famous tree on the small island at Lochan na h-Achlaise is no more having succumbed to the harsh winter in 2011 (incidentally the other famous tree down the road also came down during the same period Rannoch Moor Glen Coe famous tree photograph >). Rannoch Moor is quite unique and is made up of an expansive area of around 50 square miles of boggy moorland, there are numerous large and small lakes which have formed in the natural basins which provide a great foreground interest to images of the surrounding mountains. The most popular shot is taken literally a few metres from the side of the main road looks across Lochan na h-Achlaise towards the Black Mount, the familiar backdrop can be seen in numerous magazine and landscape photographer of the year entries. Having said that it is nearly impossible to drive past here and not stop and shoot the amazing views. I have stopped here on 2 occasions on my travels either up towards a holiday in the Scottish Highlands or heading south towards Glasgow on the A82 past Loch Tulla (a location I am yet to photograph) and the spectacular Glen Orchy Waterfalls. An interesting fact for cartoon fans is that 'Castle McDuck' the ancestral home of Scrooge McDuck's family, the Clan McDuck is located in Dismal Downs somewhere on Rannoch Moor.

Lochan na h-Achlaise and the Black Mount
During my week in Glencoe I managed to visit the loch on a few occasions, on the first visit I arrived around an hour before sunrise (got to love autumn sunrise times), the scene took up a beautiful cool blue as the dawn light begin to filter through, I used a long exposure to blur the water and soften some of the clouds.

Lochan na h-Achlaise before dawn
The road that runs down Glen Etive splits from the A82 near to the Kings House Hotel, the single track road runs for 15 miles and it takes nearly half an hour to drive down to the tip of Loch Etive. The Glen is a fantastic drive and well worth the trip if you have time, the single track road is tricky in places but there are also plenty of places to stop and take in the mountain views or to get out and photograph the waterfalls and cascades.

The start of Glen Etive as you leave the A82 at the Kings House Hotel
All of the way down Glen Etive are photographic opportunities, the river tumbles and bends through a series of waterfalls, narrows and widens providing interest everywhere you look. The waterfalls are well worth a stop on your way down the Glen, the are plenty to choose from so make sure you leave plenty of spare time!
When you finally reach the end of the Glen Etive road and arrive at the top of Loch Etive the road stops at a small rough car park and you are surrounded by nothing but silence, the old pier which featured in many photographs here has been replaced with a modern dock for the logging operations which occur in the area.

Northern Shores of Lock Etive

Loch Etive - Scotland
The Clachaig Inn near to Glencoe Village is a real hot spot for visitors to the area and provides a good base if you are thinking of photographing the area. It does great beer and food and has a popular walkers bar with huge log burner which is a welcome refuge after a day out in the mountains. Near to the Clachaig Inn there are actually quite a few photographic opportunities. You have the river that runs out of Loch Achtriochtan which has a number of waterfalls at Linne Bhuidhe with a glorious backdrop, there is also the small Torren Lochan with views to the Buttress at Aonach Dubh & Stob Coire nam Beith and Harry Potter fans my recognise this area as the scene or Hagrids Hut in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie > my image on the Telegraph website

Waterfalls at Linne Bhuidhe
Loch Achtriochtan sits below the Buttress & Aonach Dubha which is mind bogglingly steep cliff face on one side and the famous ridge walk of Anoach Eagach Ridge on the other. It is often difficult to shoot down around the lake as the mountains are so high on either side there is a limited time window for when there is any light on the lake, you will need to work out the best time of the year using a sun position calculator, in October light was hitting the valley only at mid day which is not ideal for landscape photography.

Loch Achtriochtan at sunset
At the end of Glen Coe as you reach Glencoe Village where the great sea loch of Loch Leven reveals itself, the view from here up to the conical shape of the Pap of Glencoe makes for excellent opportunities. Being tidal, the water levels in Loch Leven change throughout the day exposing different types of foreground and opportunities at different times of the day. If you are staying in Glencoe village there are good opportunities around the tip of Loch Leven at Invercoe which include the River Coe and the Pap of Glencoe. Glencoe Lochan is also worth a visit and a walk around if you have some spare time, on a good day the views down towards the mountains of Sgorr Bhan and Sgorr Dhearg behind the village of Ballacullish.

The River Coe at Intercoe - Glencoe - Scotland
Loch Leven next to Ballacullish
A good detour on the way to or back from Glencoe on the A82 is the trip down Glen Orchy. The Glen has a single track road which runs its full length and apart from a couple of small farms/hostels is very unspoiled. Glen Orchy boasts a good range of scenery and lots of wildlife, the main interest for me was the beautiful waterfalls which sit around mid-way down the Glen. The rock formations here are truly amazing and depending on the water levels will always reveal or hide the details, the rocks can be extremely slippery so you will need to take care.
A little further afield but worth a trip is the drive up and around the top of Loch Leven towards Kinlochleven and Mamore Lodge. Kinloch Leven was built to house the workers at the hydro-electric power station. There is an excellent walk staring in Kinlochleven up past the Grey Mares Tail waterfall towards Mamore Lodge, the views from the hillside looking back down Loch Leven are well worth the effort getting up there and on a good day you can see all of the way down the loch.

Loch Leven from Mamore Lodge - Kinlochleven
You can view more of my photographs from around the Scottish Highlands including the Glencoe area, the Isle of Skye and the Cairngorms National Park in my Scotland landscape photography gallery >

About Nick
Nick Cockman is a digital photographer from Sheffield specialising in Landscape and Seascape photography.

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Comments

Photo comment By Martyn Ferry: Thanks Nick, that was a really interesting post, i'm heading up that way at the end of the month for the first time, and this was a great read.
Photo comment By Motaz Al Nunu: These pictures are breathtaking... really awesome :)
Photo comment By Martin Castein: This blog post is excellent, really good photos as well.
Photo comment By Eugene: About to test out some of your ideas in April. Wonderful photos!
Photo comment By KJ: Thanks for this article. I've always wondered how people got to some of these locations. Your photography of these locations is beautiful
Photo comment By viv: Truely spectacular. Will really have to visit now. Thanks again
Photo comment By Lisa Maco: I'm planning a visit to the Scottish Highlands this summer. This location info is just what I was looking for. Thank you for posting.
Photo comment By Ian K: Fantastic photos. Super impressed
Photo comment By jackx: just read witchlight by Susan Fletcher and had to see pics of glencoe, your pictures are stunning and brought the area to life for me, as in the book. thanks and yes, i will have to go now.
Photo comment By Andy: Thank you this as helped me so much, as I only have one day in Scotland.
Photo comment By Steven Crozier: Superb shots and article, inspired me to give it a go soon. Location info is great.
Photo comment By Charn: Wonderful pictures. Really useful as well. Thanks!
Photo comment By Mohd: Very inspiring work
Photo comment By May Mah: Superb shots and informative article to go with it. We are thinking of visiting Glencoe during just after Christmas - will there be favourable photo opportunities then?

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