Glen Etive is one of many glens to be found throughout the Scottish Highlands, a region that takes up a good portion of the north of the country. It's a neighbouring glen of the more famous Glen Coe, which lies just a few miles to the west. Glen Coe attracts more visitors due to its infamously dark history of clan betrayal and massacre, and gets quite busy at times. Glen Etive, by contrast, is far more peaceful and has a more picturesque type of beauty in comparison to the dark brooding landscape of Glencoe.
It's also, unlike Glencoe, not on a main road but pleasantly located along a narrow one-track road with plenty of passing places. The road runs through Glen Etive and ends on the shores of the sea loch, 'Loch Etive', which adds a striking feature to the scenery, something that Glen Coe lacks.
Driving there is the most straightforward way. You can reach Glen Etive by taking the A 82 route from Glasgow and turning left off the main road just before Glen Coe, which is around 80 miles north of Glasgow.The road to the glen is sign posted. This is the best route to take as you pass through some amazing scenery surrounding Loch Lomond. If you don't have your own transport, there are plenty of car hire places in Glasgow.
If you want to travel there by public transport, Check Scottish Citylink and Stagecoach (buses) which operate from Glasgow (including Glasgow Airport) and Fort William to Glen Coe. Private taxi or just plain hiking can then take you the few miles back to Glen Etive.
Glen Etive is close enough to Glasgow and Edinburgh that it can be done as a day trip. For those wanting to stay in the area longer there's the nearby Kings House Hotel, which was originally a 17th century coach inn, and also there is a range of bed and breakfast accommodation in Glen Coe Village, just a few miles further along the A 82. There are also some camping sites and facilities in the glen.
While many visitors are content to just walk around and enjoy the scenery and take pictures, (like me), others want a more 'hands on' experience.
Glen Etive is highly regarded for its excellent climbing opportunities. The mountains in the top picture are known as the 'Great herdsmen' of the glen. These are named in Gaelic, Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag and, at over 3,000 feet tall, are popular among rock climbers and hill walkers.
Note: Although these aren't especially difficult climbs for experienced climbers, they shouldn't be attempted, even partially, by casual visitors. Weather conditions can change rapidly, temperatures can plummet, fog can quickly descend, rain, sleet and even snow can make an unwelcome appearance, anytime. Avalanches resulting in fatalities are also not unheard of.
The River Etive runs through the glen and empties into Loch Etive. It has healthy fish populations including salmon in certain stretches of the river. Permits are required for fishing in the lower stretches (especially where the salmon are). Brown trout are a common catch in the upper reaches, although, apparently, not too impressive in size..
Stretches of the river are popular among kayakers negotiating the white water rapids that occur when water levels are in full height. In full flow, the River Etive is considered one of the best in the UK for this activity.
Bede from Minnesota on January 10, 2019:
This is quite a precious plot of land – reminds me of Switzerland. I didn’t realize that Scotland has such beauty and so hope to get there some day. Thanks for sharing the info.