Did you know that one possible translation of Gleann Comhann is "Glen of the Dogs"? It certainly lives up to its name! Glencoe is a dream for dog owners and their four-legged friends. From woodland walks to river dips, mountain hikes to loch swims, cosy pubs to cute cafes, hostels to hotels and even our very own museum, Glencoe is full of dog-friendly activities and places.
I got my first dog as soon as I moved here, knowing it would be the perfect place for a daft spaniel to run wild. In the years since, we have explored extensively on foot and I have scoured the area for activities and eateries that allow me to bring the dog along. With more and more businesses choosing to go the dog-friendly route to capitalise on the rise in domestic travel and Scotland’s growing popularity as a road-trip holiday destination, it’s the perfect time to plan a trip that your furry friends can enjoy as well!
N.B. Please be a responsible dog owner: obey signs, pick up after your dog and always follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Best Short(ish) Walks
An Torr – a wooded wonderland with three trails to choose from and a great opportunity to let your dog explore off-lead. There is a short section beside a quiet road and another by an often fast-moving river, but otherwise no dangers or difficulties.
Similarly, Glencoe Lochan offers three short trails with lots of woodland to explore, a loch for swimming (though be aware that blue-green algae is occasionally an issue here after a stretch of dry weather), and often lots of other dogs to meet!
Orbital Path – despite its name, this is not a circular route. However, it does offer a lovely stroll from Glencoe Village to the Clachaig Inn, where you can have some refreshments in a dog-friendly setting before tackling the walk back. There are a couple of sections of road walking, but it is usually quiet and traffic is slow moving. On the way you will pass the beautiful Torren Lochan – perfect for a cool down (for you and your dog!) but watch little legs and ankles on the cattle grid on the way in!
Ballachulish Peninsula is our go-to morning walk. You can walk there from the village or park right down at the water’s edge (past the Isles of Glencoe Hotel) and then just follow the well-trodden path around the peninsula, which offers beautiful views towards Ballachulish Bridge, the Pap of Glencoe and Eilean Munde (the Burial Island). There are information boards sharing local history and you are sure to meet lots of locals out with their dogs or heading into the loch for a swim.
Bishop’s Bay – A lovely short walk along the north shore of Loch Leven from North Ballachulish to a hidden bay. Lots of swimming opportunities for water-loving doggos and a safe enough area to allow off-lead freedom.
Brecklet is a fantastic, often overlooked walk above the quarry in Ballachulish. An initial steep climb is rewarded by views across Loch Leven, and is followed by a lovely, gentle walk down a woodland trail back to the village.
West Highland Way – one of the most beautiful stretches of the WHW passes through Glencoe, winding from Glencoe Mountain Resort to Altnafeadh via the Kingshouse Hotel, and then up the infamous Devil’s Staircase, giving lots of walks to choose from at various levels of difficulty. Pick a stretch to walk out and back, or tackle the Devil’s Staircase for stunning views back down the Glen and north to Ben Nevis. It can be busy with walkers hiking the full length of the WHW, so be prepared to keep your dog on a lead or under close control. Also be aware that the section from the Ski Centre to the Kingshouse also involves crossing the very busy A82.
The Two Lairigs is a bit of a longer walk (15K) but can be broken down into shorter stretches. To do the full loop, park at the Buachaille Etive Beag carpark and take the lower path along the river. The route circles the wee Buachaille, dropping quite steeply into Glen Etive and then returning over the Lairig Gartain and heading back to the start point via the old military road. Alternatively, just walk out to either of the Lairigs and return the same way. The walk to Lairig Gartain in particular is beautiful (for this walk, park in the carpark on the corner above Altnafeadh), and there are rivers running through both passes for hot, thirsty dogs.
Hillwalking with Dogs
If you are a munro-bagger then you’ll already know what Glencoe has to offer in terms of its bigger mountains, and will also know your own dog's capabilities. But if your dog is new to hillwalking and you want to start small, there are plenty of hills in the area that are well worth your time and effort! The Pap of Glencoe gives stunning views down Loch Leven and is a relatively simple but steep walk, though smaller dogs or those unused to the terrain may struggle with a bit of scrambling near the top. Beinn a’ Chrulaiste is also a favourite (giving possibly the best views of Buachaille Etive Mor in the Glen) as are the hills above the Devil’s Staircase – Stob Mhic Mhartuim and Beinn Beag.
From the National Trust for Scotland Visitor Centre (which allows dogs throughout their site), you can follow the forestry road up to the mast on the summit of Am Meall, a gentle 5km climb that gives beautiful views across Loch Leven to the hills of Ardgour and of the surrounding mountains, and if you still have the energy you can carry on up Meall Mor. Just be aware that there are deer, grouse and ptarmigan around on all of our hills all year round, so keep your dog on a lead or under close control if they enjoy chasing!
Dog Friendly Pubs & Cafes
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat that will welcome dogs as well, then you’re spoiled for choice in Glencoe. The Clachaig Inn, Kingshouse Hotel, Glencoe Gathering and Loch Leven Hotel allow dogs in all their seating areas (and all serve fantastic meals, drinks, coffees and cakes amongst spectacular scenery) while the Laroch in Ballachulish welcomes dogs into their bar area and outdoor seats, but not the restaurant. The Quarry Centre Café in Ballachulish allows dogs inside (where they may be lucky enough to meet resident spaniel Fern!) and Glencoe Mountain Café and Crafts and Things both have outdoor seating areas to accommodate visitors with dogs. NTS Glencoe also allow dogs throughout their visitor centre and cafe.
The Clachaig, Kingshouse, Glencoe Gathering and Loch Leven Hotel all have dog-friendly rooms as well as dog-friendly bars and restaurants. The Ballachulish Hotel, Isles of Glencoe Hotel and Glencoe House also allow dogs in some areas, while both our Hostels (Glencoe Youth Hostel and Glencoe Independent Hostel) welcome dogs in their private rooms and self-catering cabins. There is also an abundance of campsites, B&Bs and self-catering in the area, many of which allow dogs.
Finally, of course, we welcome well-behaved dogs in all our museum buildings. We provide fresh water and might even have some treats around if you're lucky!