Glen Coe (also often referred to as Glencoe) is one of the most stunning and well known photography locations in Scotland. I’ve been lucky enough to visit and photograph this location a number of times, and I wanted to share some photos from my first visit to this location in the form of a photo essay.
This trip happened in 2015, when I took a road trip with some fellow travel photographers up to the Scottish Highlands, and specifically Glencoe.
Marred with a tragic history, Glencoe happens to be one of the most spectacular locations for landscape photography that I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. It’s also a well known filming locations, having appeared in films including Highlander, Skyfall and it was a filming location for many Harry Potter films.
I was only in the area for a couple of days on my first trip, but I managed to get a fair few shots to give you an idea of why you need to fly to Scotland, hire a car, and just visit as soon as you can. If you do plan on visiting, see my guide to visiting Glen Coe for more tips.
Largely deserted roads, epic clouds and huge mountains. Did someone say photography paradise? I think they might have done. This is the start of the 14 mile road which was used in the Skyfall James Bond movie. It was so picturesque it took three hours to drive to the end and back again…
Glencoe is all about brooding peaks and a narrow, oppressive valley. Visiting in January meant I could have been unlucky with the weather, as it was I had two days of nearly perfect light, and a golden hour that seemed to last all day. I’m not complaining.
There are countless hiking trails to take in the majesty of the area, if that’s your thing. I spotted this little trail and bridge from the road, and had to stop to shoot it. Those are the three sisters in the background.
All those mountains and snow, not to mention the occasional spot of sideways rain and sleet, means of course that there are rivers galore. Here’s one of them in full flow!
Did I mention the light was pretty special? Here’s a shot of the light bursting through the clouds over one of the many lochs in the area.
It just kept changing and getting better!
Another brooding mountain with a single track road leading to ever more spectacular sights…
Obviously you have to find a small cottage against a mountain to take a photo of. This one appeared to have been built specifically to pose wonderfully for photos.
Here’s that bridge again, with the three sisters in the background. No trolls in sight, but I wouldn’t have been surprised to have found one.
More waterfalls. It’s quite pretty here.
And the same waterfall, looking the other way. It’s kind of hard to know what to shoot, it’s so scenic everywhere you look!
And to finish off, one of my fellow travellers, Dante takes in the gorgeous scenery of the valley. You can find Dante on Instagram here.
How to Get to Glencoe
From a photographer’s perspective, Glencoe is easiest to reach by car, as it’s a fairly remote location and a car will give you maximum flexibility in terms of getting the right shot and hunting down the perfect light. It’s around a 2.5 hour drive from Edinburgh.
Of course, not everyone will want to drive, and there are also a number of tours that leave from Edinburgh which include Glencoe. Of course, this will give you less time in the area, but you will be able to get some photos and a feel for the place. Some tours we suggest looking at are:
- This photography focused tour of Glencoe, with departure from Edinburgh
- This tour from Edinburgh, which covers Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Highlands
- A similar tour to the above, but with departure from Glasgow
- A 3 day tour from Edinburgh, covering the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Highlands
We’ve travelled extensively in Scotland since my first trip to Glencoe, and have put together a great many resources to help you plan your own adventures. Here are a few we think you’ll find helpful.
- We have a detailed guide to visiting Glen Coe which has everything you need to plan your trip
- A guide to photography locations on the Isle of Skye, another of Scotland’s well known photo spots. We also have a guide to escaping the crowds on the Isle of Skye, as well as a suggested 5 Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands itinerary.
- Those of you looking for a road trip will want to check out the North Coast 500. We have a photography guide to the North Coast 500, as well as an NC500 planning guide, a 7 day NC500 itinerary and a guide to where to stay on the NC500
- We have a lot of content on Scottish cities too. We have a guide to the best photography locations in Edinburgh, best things to do in Edinburgh, things to do in Glasgow, and things to do in Aberdeen – to name but a few!
- We also have lots of photography content to help you improve your photography. Check out our guides to lens compression, long exposure photography, RAW in photography, use of ND filters, depth of field and composition, to name but a few.
- We also have a guide to why you need a tripod, and a guide to choosing a travel tripod
- If you’re in the market for a new camera, we have a detailed guide to the best travel camera, as well as specific guides for the best compact camera, best mirrorless camera and best DSLR camera
- If you have a camera but want a new lens, we have a guide to the best camera lenses for travel
- Finally, if you want to improve your photography overall, you can join 1,000+ students on my travel photography course. I’ve been running this since 2016, and have helped lots of people take their photography to the next level. Including learning how to use photo editing software properly!
And that’s it! As always, we hope you enjoyed this post, and we’re always happy to answer your questions in the comments below.
My trip to Glencoe was part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and was supported by ETAG, EventScotland, VisitScotland, Homecoming Scotland 2014 and co-creators Haggis Adventures. Created and produced by Unique Events. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
There are 14 comments on this post
Please scroll to the end to leave a comment
David Craig says
My Wife and I and our 40 year old son will be starting our trip in Glasgow, my father and grand father lived in Pasley came to US in 1919
We will go to Glencoe and spend some time there and then to Skye and some time there. Then on to Inverness, Elgin and Lossiemouth to see more of my ancestors grave sites
Laurence Norah says
That sounds like a lovely trip David – have an amazing time, and do let me know if you have any questions 🙂
Chittaranjan Desai says
Fabulous info & images! Which month were they photographed? We are contemplating a 20-day photography trip to Scotland & wanted images with some snow atop the mountains.
Thank you very much for all the details & inspiration.
Laurence Norah says
Hey, thanks very much 🙂 So these shots were all taken during the month of January, although snow if definitely not guaranteed. If you want snow, your best options are between January and March for sure, but it always depends on the weather. I’d say these are some of my favourite months though for photography in Scotland, as long you don’t mind the cold! The light is truly fantastic as the sun is so low in the sky. But of course, you can also be very unlucky with the weather. Anyway, have a great trip and let me know if I can help with any more questions you might have 🙂
Bob Jennings says
I need a landscape print for my overly long hallway. G,encoe and Loch Etive are my favourite destinations, so I wonder if prints of any of the images are available?
Laurence Norah says
Hi Bob – we sure do! I just sent you an e-mail with the details. If you don’t get anything, you might need to check your spam!
I am going next month for 2 nights…I cannot wait!!!
You’re photos are stunning.
Laurence Norah says
Thanks – have a great trip Susan!
Carol a brown says
This post was just what I needed on a dreary Sunday morning. I was missing Glencoe when I came upon this. You have captured the light pristinely and put me right back in front of the white cottage. Thank you!
Laurence Norah says
Delighted to be able to help Carol – I hope you get back up to Glencoe someday soon 🙂
Hi Laurence, thank you that’s absolutely superb! Don’t you just love Google Maps 🙂 I’ve just been taking a virtual drive with Google Street View down Glen Etive, it looks absolutely stunning, reminds me of Iceland. Thanks again, not sure our shots will be quite up to yours tho, but we’ll try 🙂
It’s a stunning drive, you won’t be disappointed! We’re hopefully heading to Iceland soon, can’t wait 😀
Incredible photos! you were so lucky with that light, every photo is stunning! Can you remember the name of this road you took? We’re hoping to go later this year, would love to see that little white cottage 🙂
Hi there, and thanks!
The white cottage is just off the main road through Glencoe – parking is here: https://goo.gl/maps/dAS4tJGEJS92 – the cottage is directly south on the other side of River Coupall.
Also, make sure you head down the Glen Etive road, famous for the Skyfall movie, but where a lot of the shots in this post were taken 🙂