The Glencoe Visitor Centre Turf House

I woke up in the Kinghouse Hotel wondering if it was all a dream that we made it to the Lost Valley of Glencoe the day before. It all seemed blurry.

Thankfully I have my photos, videos and words to remind me it was real! I will treasure the memory forever, as I do with all my adventures of course. My blog posts are a wonderful way to remember these moments in time.

I stepped out on to our room’s balcony around 8am. It was dull and foggy, or atmospheric as I like to describe it too. After breakfast, at around 10am, the same view changed with the sun shining for us.

You just never know what Scotland’s weather is going be like by the hour!

We were checking out of the hotel today, so packed up our things and left the room tidy. I was wishing we could have stayed longer. I always do when I go somewhere I love.

Before driving home, we planned to go to the Glencoe National Nature Reserve which is looked after by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS). The Trust has built a replica 17th century turf house that I wanted to see.

First though, I had a secret mission.

Geocaching

I haven’t been geocaching for a while, but I still have one active trackable Unicorn (Geocaching.com) travelling the world. I did have others but they all went missing sadly.

It was time to send another one out there, and what better place than Glencoe. The hunt was on and I found the perfect trackable tag with a photo of Glencoe, the famous picture postcard of Scotland. I also attached a stag keyring who was excited to go on an adventure as well.

Glencoe and the Stag (Geocaching.com) was born, its mission to visit mountains, hills and beautiful places around the world.

Glencoe and the Stag

We parked in a lay-by and followed a trodden grass path alongside the road. It took us to a lovely spot with a cluster of trees. I was thinking I’d like to sit under the trees for a while and gaze up at the mountains and sky.

View walking East

Using the Geocaching app on my phone, we knew the cache was in this area somewhere and found the West of Scotland Travel Bug Hotel cache box quite quickly. We checked Glencoe and the Stag into the hotel and said our goodbyes.

I hope they travel afar and don’t get lost. I will be tracking them online to see all the places they visit.

West of Scotland Travel Bug Hotel, Glencoe

What I loved about this location is I could stand off the main road and stare up in awe at Ossian’s Cave. The cave is set within Aonach Dubh, the third mountain of the Three Sisters on the west side.

Whenever we drive along this road I always look up and wonder if there’s a deep cave within it. I’ve never stopped long enough to properly gaze at its inviting entrance. Looking like a visible doorway to a Dwarven Kingdom deep within the mountain, if I was younger, fitter and braver I’d be up there. It looks like a dangerous hike though!

Ossian’s Cave high up in the mountain

The next best thing was finding this Ossian’s Cave hill walk video on YouTube by Stripey Hat Guy where he passed the cave. It was a beautiful sunset hike. Scarily dangerous though if you’re not an experienced hiker or don’t know the area well.

We walked back to the car with more stunning views of the glen. What a great short walk that I wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for the cache!

View walking west

Turf house at the Glencoe Visitor Centre

Next we visited the Glencoe National Nature Reserve (National Trust for Scotland).

We have visited before, five years ago on a day trip with my mum and sister – Day trip to Glencoe. We walked around some of the paths at the visitor centre.

If you’re not a member of the Trust, you only need to pay for parking here (£4 as at 2022). The exhibition, turf house and stunning Glencoe walks are free.

We were feeling peckish. The friendly staff in the gift shop told us the pies are amazing in the Highland Coo Café and that they were. Chicken and mushroom pie, crispy potato slices and gravy. Even though my taste buds were still not back to normal, I enjoyed the warmth of the food and it was perfect on a cold day.

This was the first time I saw the 3D ordnance survey map of Glencoe. It’s pretty amazing to look at all the mountains, their names and the paths mapped out.

Map of Glencoe

The Lost Valley, where we hiked the day before, was tiny in scale and looked easy to reach compared to the mountains that surrounded it. It didn’t feel that easy or tiny to me…

Map of the Lost Valley

There’s a beautiful walk here to the ruins of Inverrigan House, where there was an earlier house and nine people died during the Glencoe Massacre of 1692.

Information sign about the Glencoe Massacre

The turf house trail information board number 1 reads:

“A roof o’er their heads. Bringing alive 17th century Glencoe.

Ever wonder what Glencoe was like 350 years ago or how people lived here at the time of the infamous Massacre of 1692?

The landscape has changed since then and no buildings from that era survive today …

Did you know? Glencoe was once home to 400 to 500 people. By the 19th century there were just three sheep farms here.

NTS members and donors make this possible. Thank you!”

National Trust for Scotland

I was thinking that the turf house would be a longer walk nearer Inverrigan, but as I approached the viewpoint beside the visitor centre, I could see it right in front of me.

Wow, it blended in so naturally in this magnificent location. I was already excited to walk the turf house trail. This is how the people lived in the 17th century and at the time of the Glencoe Massacre.

Turf house nestled in the mountains

The turf house reconstruction was inspired by archaeological excavations at place called Achtriochtan. General Roy’s military survey map, between 1747-55, shows clusters of buildings or townships in the glen, including at Achtriochtan.

General Roy’s map

The turf house trail information board 3 reads:

“The earliest map of Glencoe is a military survey done by General William Roy between 1747-55, 60 years after the Massacre of Glencoe.

It shows clusters of buildings or townships at seven locations in the Glen, including three on NTS owned land.

Did you know? The first road through the Glen was built nearly 100 years after the Glencoe Massacre.”

National Trust for Scotland

The Trust’s archaeological surveys found the remains of a township at Achtriochtan.

Information about Achtriochtan

The turf house trail information board 4 reads:

“Roy’s map shows eight buildings beside a burn below the Aonach Eagach ridge, east of Loch Triochtan. This spot is just a short walk from the A82 road in the heart of the Glen today.

Our archaeological surveys at Achtriochtan have uncovered a township with five buildings, four enclosures with cultivation rigs, a grain-drying kiln and a terraced path here.

Did you know? Described as “village of poets”, Achtriochtan was home to 17th century Gaelic bard and fighting man, Ranald of the Shield.”

National Trust for Scotland

We then realised we had walked past Achtriochtan earlier as this was the same area where we found the geocache! The photo above with the slate and rocks on the ground is where they excavated. I wish I had known this as I would have looked around the area more.

I thought it was the most picturesque area to place a cache, but seems it was also a beautiful place to call home hundreds of years ago. I also read online that the once thriving community of Achtriochtan may have had its own inn.

There’s more information boards as part of the short trail, including how they created this amazing turf house. It’s well worth a visit if you’re ever passing through the great Glencoe.

We reached the final information board and wow, what a stunning location to build a house! When can I move in?

Turf house

It has a heather-thatched roof and the outside walls are built with thick chunks of earth. Nature seems to be taking over with foliage growing out of the turf.

Earth walls and a heather-thatched roof
Front door of the turf house
Side door of the turf house

Inside there’s two rooms, one with an imitation fire on the floor which would burn day and night to keep warm and cook. The other room was emptier and might have been where animals sheltered.

The sounds of people speaking Gaelic filled the room, taking me back in time as to how it might have been living here in the 17th century.

Fire inside the turf house

I was imagining waking up every day, walking out the door to be welcomed by the towering mountains and a dramatic sky. This is me romanticising the scene as always. It would have been tough living, especially in the cold winter months.

Back of the turf house

The turf house was made possible by donations and Trust memberships. Even though I don’t get to visit many of the Trust locations, I love that my membership contributes towards projects like this.

The Trust will be adding more 17th century features in this location, so I’ll hopefully be back again at some point.

Finding another Glencoe view

There’s a few stopping places along the glen that take you to different walks or hikes. On our way back heading home we stopped off at the Buachaille Etive Beag car park which has a path leading up into the hills. We were curious and hiked a short way to check if there was a viewpoint.

It was still bitterly cold, more so with the wind chill. My hood was up and face down as I hiked up the hill. Alan was ahead, he was more energetic than me today. I lost track of him, there was no red jacket in sight when I eventually braved the wind and looked up.

I kept going up and up until I reached a plateau area where I thought I should see a view down the glen. Eventually Alan turned up from another direction. He had taken a shortcut off the main path. No wonder when I looked up the path it seemed like he just vanished into thin air…

The view down the glen did not disappoint. I love to see the mountains from a different perspective. The road looked so tiny below, it was magical!

We didn’t hang around too long as the wind picked up and was chilling to the bones.

Wow! A Glencoe view that looks like Middle-earth

Feelings deep within your soul

Even if you only drive through the glen, you will be overwhelmed by its presence. The sheer size of the mountains that surround you will take your breath away.

It’s a place that will take you back in time with your own thoughts, feelings and history about the ancient landscape.

I always get goosebumps, feel small and insignificant when I’m surrounded by the grandeur of the Glencoe mountains.

The weather plays a huge part in how you feel. It can be moody, cold and scary, then other times our star the sun could be shining all day, with white puffy clouds casting their gliding shadows across the mountains.

Nature has many personalities.

Below is a photo at the Three Sisters, taken in summer on a hot August sunny day. I remember the glaring light not being good for photos and the walking paths were very busy. Look how lush green it is!

Two of the Three Sisters in summer

Almost the same photo below was taken in December.

Two of the Three Sisters in winter

Watch my video of Glencoe

National Trust for Scotland video “Why we love Glencoe”

This is a great video by the National Trust for Scotland about Glencoe if you are interested.

National Trust for Scotland | Why we love Glencoe

Thanks for reading, I hope you liked the photos.

Love

Dawn-Marie x

6 thoughts on “The Glencoe Visitor Centre Turf House

  1. I am amazed how much more there is to see and visit in Glencoe these days. Have hill walked in the area a few times (over 10 years ago) and stopped frequently at the visitor centre on trips north but I’m impressed with the changes since our last visit. Thank you for that – looking forward to getting back to have a look. I also have a travel tag to set off on its travels – that “hotel” is probably a very good drop off point – especially come the tourist season. Ken

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ken

      Yes the Visitor Centre has changed a bit since I was last there too. I’ve not seen much of Glencoe, so it was great to explore a small part of the area for two days. I’d love to walk some of those hills one day, I bet the views are even more stunning!

      The hotel is a perfect place to drop off your tag, and easy to reach. My tag hasn’t moved yet, but hopefully when the weather gets warmer.

      I hope you have fun when you visit again.

      Thanks
      Dawn-Marie 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love Rannoch Moor can’t wait to paint there ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds great! So many compositions to choose from, waiting to be painted 🎨 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful scenery. I haven’t done Geocaching for a while now. It is a great place to do some. The nature reserve is amazing as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Melodie

      Me too, I haven’t done much Geocaching but I was excited to place a new trackable out there. I hope it travels soon. It all seems like a dream now that I was there, but hopefully I can return again soon 🙂

      Thanks
      Dawn-Marie

      Liked by 1 person

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