Walk of the week: Pap of Glencoe

Pap of Glencoe. Picture: Nick Drainey
Pap of Glencoe. Picture: Nick Drainey
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THE Pap of Glencoe is not a Munro, but its presence dominates the village. Despite the challenging Aonach Eagach ridge next to it and the huge buttresses of Bidean nam Bian across Glencoe, it still manages to reward all who walk up it with the sense they have been up a first class mountain.

The fantastic views begin almost immediately, in part because the steepness of the path means you gain height quickly – although you might need to stop to catch your breath, there is a ready-made excuse. And once on the 2,434ft summit, you will find one of the best places in Scotland to enjoy a packed lunch. Savour this walk – it is one of the very best anywhere.

DISTANCE 5 miles.


TIME 3∫ to 5 hours.

MAP OS Landranger 41.

PARK Take the minor road which goes through Glencoe village to the Clachaig Inn. About 300 yards after passing a national speed limit sign on the edge of Glencoe turn left into a car park, just after an electricity substation.

IN SUMMARY Go to the end of the car park and at a signpost take a path on the right. This follows the road you drove in on and at its end joins that road. At this point there are two gate entrances to the left – take the second one, next to a sign for the Pap of Glencoe. Go through a second gate to reach open hillside and an obvious path ahead.

The path leads to a footbridge on the right, which you cross. An easier gradient follows as the path follows the contour along the hill and easily fords a burn – Allt a’ Mhuilinn. The steep uphill work now begins, but views open up behind, over Loch Leven to Loch Linnhe.

The path goes up by the side of the gorge carrying the burn before bearing right where the uphill work continues but with views of Glencoe’s mountains now ahead. Eventually, the path turns sharp left and shortly afterwards you are rewarded with the sight, if a little daunting, of the summit dome of the Pap of Glencoe.

Keep going up and at a junction of paths stay left – the path to the right leads to the Aonach Eagach ridge. You eventually reach the top of the gorge carrying the burn, which you cross via an obvious path. This leads to the bottom of the summit dome, turns left then bears right to work its way up, over loose rocks. Although this section looks a bit fearsome from below, there is nothing technical in it.

The path reaches the other side of the summit dome and then turns left to reach the top, from where the views of the Mamores and Ben Nevis beyond can be enjoyed, as well as the mountains in all other directions.

The best option is to return the way you came.

REFRESH Glencoe village has a good choice but at the other end of the minor road on which you drove to the car park is the Clachaig Inn, long a favourite with walkers and climbers.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA This place is all about the scenery but the National Trust for Scotland visitor centre is situated right at the bottom of Glencoe and gives lots of historical and geographical information about the area. It also has a café and a shop. www.glencoe-nts.org.uk.