Posted by: Rose | November 23, 2009

Ballad of Glencoe

For me, the Highlands always conjures an image of Rannoch Moor and the mountains of Glencoe. It reminds me of my first visit; we were on our way to an early start up Ben Nevis as part of the National Three Peaks Challenge and I woke to dawn lighting the pass. It was magical then and still remains that way.

Glencoe is composed of volcanics associated with the mountain building of the Caledonian Orogeny, the same event that metamorphosed the sediments in Glen Roy. Glencoe is famed as the location that developed the theory behind the process of caldera collapse. Thousands of cubic kilometres of magma were erupted from the Glencoe volcano, only to leave a huge void within. A ‘ring fault’ was formed which circled the empty chamber. Each eruption caused an internal collapse of the volcano along the ring fault, eventually leaving a vast basin-like hollow called a ‘caldera‘.

The landscape that you now see at Glencoe as been modified by glaciation. The volcanic rocks have been scoured and shattered, leaving behind the distinctive U-shaped valley that the River Coe now flows through.

Entry Falls, River Coe. Photo by Mark Rainsley.

We spent the morning in a Fort William industrial estate trying to fix my broken boat so that it would survive the remainder of the week. It didn’t work. The pressure of the whitewater breached the hull again and I paddled the entire Gorge section with water sloshing over my legs, squealing ‘I’m sinking!’.

Now that I’ve paddled the Coe it’s got my top spot as ‘the river with the best scenery’. I spent the entire time craning my neck trying to take it all in. It really is impossible to get all the mountains into your vision from water level…

O cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe
And covers the grave o’Donald
And cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe
And murdered the house of Macdonald.

Sinking on Coe Gorge. Photo by Mark Rainsley.

Back Door Man, River Coe.

Entry Falls, River Coe. Photo by Mark Rainsley.

Glencoe. Photo by Ol Renison.



  1. If you try the duct tape & hairdryer method of kayak repair please let me know what kind of results you get.
    Repair cracked kayaks with duct tape and a hair dryer – BRT Kayaking.

    I added your blog into my whitewater river kayaking blog directory.

  2. Hi Liz,
    It’s Rob from Dorset Cereals. I’ve been reading through your blog, bringing back memories of kayaking in Scotland with the Exeter Uni Canoe Club, although I never managed to paddle the River Coe (just not good enough!), my friends have and said it was amazing! I know that I always need a good breakfast before I go paddling (or a nice snack in an eddy) so thought you might be interested that we have created two amazingly moreish dark chocolate Granola recipes. If you fancy we can send you some samples to try and if you’d like to do a competition on your blog we’d love to give some packs to the winner as a prize!

    If you’re at all interested please email me at

    Hope to hear from you soon,


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