The Three Sisters Glencoe: A Guide

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Glencoe is one of the most magical, mystical, and seriously spectacular areas in The Highlands – and indeed, all of Scotland.

As an area rife with Gaelic mysticism, romantic backdrops, misty-topped mountains – and not to mention – an epic and bloody battle many moons ago, Glencoe (sometimes spelled ‘Glen Coe’) is the ultimate place to explore for lovers of folklore and the great outdoors alike.

One such place is the Three Sisters Glencoe, which we guarantee you will be booking your tickets to by the end of this blog!

Read more: Corrieshalloch Gorge Viewpoint: A Complete Guide (+ The Best Hikes!)

glencoe the three sisters lochs

Where is Glencoe?

Glencoe is part of a glen/valley in the Ballachulish area of The Highlands, which is just north of the county of Argyll.

As well as being a volcanic valley (don’t worry – all the volcanoes are safely extinct!), there is a scenic little village of the same name, which can be found sandwiched between the banks of Loch Leven and the mouth of the glen itself.

Glencoe is easy enough to reach, with the nearest airport being the Oban airport, 18.9 miles away. Those coming from international waters can fly into Glasgow (62 miles away), Inverness (71 miles away), or Edinburgh (84 miles away).

The Three Sisters Glencoe History

The Highlands is a land full of medieval mystery and fantastical folklore, and the Three Sisters themselves are somewhat considered local celebrities.

As well as being one of the most photographed landmarks in Glencoe, Bidean nam Bian (the mountain to which the sisters belong) is also the highest point in Argyll (1,150 metres/3,770 ft), and can certainly make for some incredible panoramic views.

Little is known about the history of the Three Sisters in Glencoe, but it is said that the land (including the mountains) was owned by the infamous MacDonald clan, which was the subject of a bloody massacre back in 1692 – but that’s a different story for a different day!

Glencoe Legend

Gaelic culture is in no short supply of myth, lore, and legend – especially connecting to the land.

Glencoe is a hiker’s dream, and many outdoorsy folk flock to the area each year to enjoy some of the scenic trails and formidable mountains (fun fact: many mountain climbers aiming to tackle the Himalayas often practice with the Three Sisters!). And while getting those steps in, hikers can learn about the local legends.

Way up high on Aonach Dubh lies a cavern called Ossian’s Cave. Ossian is said to have been the poet son of two locals named Fion and Sadbh. Legend has it that Ossian’s mother was cursed and turned into a deer by a Druid warlock after she rejected the advances of a local man named Fion.

After she became a deer, Fion hunted her down with his dogs but did not harm her. Instead, she was turned back into the beautiful woman she once was and fell in love with Fion. However, their love was to be shortlived as the Druid soon turned Sadbh back into a deer – and she ran away into the wilderness.

During her shared time with Fion, she became pregnant, and when the child was due, she retired to a hidden mountainous cave to give birth. Her baby was, of course, a fawn (‘Ossian’ translates to ‘little fawn’ in Gaelic) and the cave became known as Ossian’s Cave.

3 Sisters Glencoe Names

The Three Sisters belong to a mountain in Glencoe named Bidean Nam Bian, with each ‘sister’ being supposedly named after three local maidens, Aonach Dubh, Beinn Fhada, and Gearr Aonach.

Three Sisters Viewpoint Glencoe

Those with a love of fresh mountain air, muddy paths, and an incredible vista (or three!) may want to add the Three Sisters to their bucket list.

Glencoe is idyllic for walking and hiking. However, because Bidean Nam Bian is the highest mountain in Argyll, it is recommended that experienced hikers only tackle all three of the sisters, as the terrain is steep, rocky, and complicated in places.

For less-experienced walkers and hikers, the valley that lies between the first two sisters, known as Coire Gabhail, is an easier route. Locals know this area as the ‘lost’ or ‘hidden’ valley.

This route is less intense than all three of the sisters but is not without its challenges, including rocky terrain and river crossings, so some experience in hiking is recommended.

Whichever hike you opt for, we can promise you that the views are absolutely worth the trials and tribulations of hiking this land!

Buachaille Etive Mór

When in Rome, as they say….

Okay, well, when in Glencoe, you’d be foolish to miss out on the area’s most famous occupant, Buachaille Etive Mór – arguably one of Scotland’s best-loved mountains, next to Ben Nevis, of course.

If you’ve ever seen a postcard or moodboard of Glencoe, you will have no doubt already seen Buachaille Etive Mór, as it is arguably the calling card of The Highlands. However, no board or piece of cardboard can do it justice from seeing it in the flesh.

Located at the head of Glen Etive, this pyramid-shaped mountain is a popular choice for hikers and climbers alike. Like many of the world’s best-loved mountains, the Buachaille is formidable and unforgiving – especially in conjunction with Scotland’s often temperamental weather – and should be approached only by well-seasoned climbers and mountaineers. 

Stob Coire Sgreamhach

Those looking to tick off several of Scotland’s famous mountains will likely have Stob Coire Sgreamhach on their list.

Located in the Lorn area of Glencoe, Stob Coire Sgreamhach peaks at 1,072 metres (3,517 ft) and is often tackled before or after the Three Sisters by hikers pioneering the area’s mountainous range.

Many moons ago, this area was used by the MacDonald clan to hide their livestock from raiders, as it is nicely hidden away from the main view.

Places to Stay Near The Three Sisters Glencoe

Glencoe may be rural AF but by no means does this suggest the only boarding options are a tent or a local bothie! Some of the most delightful accommodation in the area includes:

Guided Tours in Glencoe

If you’re not quite ready to see the magnificent land of Glencoe without the aid of a trekking pole or a climbing rope, a guided tour can be a lovely (and warmer!) way to enjoy this moody scenery.

Some of the best tours of Glencoe include:

Hiking in Glencoe

In case we’ve not made it clear already – Glencoe is a hiker’s haven! Some of the best trails to traverse include:

  • Coire Gabhail (The Lost Valley) – 6.3 km
  • Tom a’ Ghrianain (Signal Rock), An Tor, & Hagrid’s Hut Circular – 3.5 km
  • Stob Dubh via Buachaille Etive Beag – 6.9 km
  • Stop Coire Sgreamhach, Bidean nam Bien, & Stob Coire nan Lochan – 11.4 km
  • Lairig Gartain via Glen Cloe – 9.0 km
  • Buachaille Etive Mór: Stob Dearg & Stob Na Doire Circular – 14.5 km
  • Stob Coire via Buachaille Etive Beag – 5.1 km
  • An Tor Circular – 1.9 km
  • Tom a’ Grianain (Signal Rock) – 1.9 km
  • Stob Dearg via Buachaille Etive Mór – 6.9 km

Hiring a Car in Glencoe, Scotland

Getting around The Highlands without a vehicle is doable, sure, but not ideal! Luckily, there are plenty of great rental companies to hire a car from including: 


Why is it called the Three Sisters of Glencoe?

The name ‘The Three Sisters’ is more of a nickname for the three similar ridges of the Bidean Nam Bian mountain in Glencoe, Scotland. In mountain culture, identical ridges within a mountain range are often known as ‘sisters’.

What are the Three Sisters mountains in Scotland?

The Three Sisters are three similar-looking mountain ridges and are part of Glencoe’s infamous peaks named Aonach Dubh, Beinn Fhada, and Gearr Aonach, which are together known as the Three Sisters of Glencoe.

What is the story of the Three Sisters?

Like many places in Scotland, Glencoe has a rich history that is shrouded in mystery and legend, and the Three Sisters are no exception.
As well as Ossian’s tale, these mountains of Glencoe are associated with a legend of not three but five sisters. Gaelic myth suggests that the reason that there are now only three mountains is that the youngest of the five sisters were “swept off their feet by two handsome Irishmen” and left the area, which manifested itself in their mountain namesakes mysteriously disappearing over time.

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