Located on the south side of Glen Coe, Bidean Nam Bian is the highest mountain in the county of Argyll. It stands tall at an impressive 1,150-metre elevation and it’s a favourite with beginner and advanced hill walkers.
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Review of Bidean Nam Bian
Bidean Nam Bian, located to the south of Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands, is well-known amongst hill walkers and munro-baggers for the fantastic views it offers from the ‘Three Sisters of Glen Coe’ – the three steep ridges on the north face that extend into the Glen.
This enormous series of peaks is part of the highest mountain in the old county of Argyll, rising to 1,150 metres at its highest point with several ascending routes of varying difficulty, although the easier path from Glencoe car park is by far the most used (you can see this route in the map shown further down this page).
To my mind this is one of the most beautiful, picture-postcard-perfect areas of the Highlands and if you’re intent on exploring the mountainous regions of Glencoe you absolutely have to put Bidean Nam Bian somewhere near the top of your list of places to visit.
Bidean Nam Bian offers a fantastic walk on a clear day where you’ll be able to see for miles across the Scottish countryside, although it’s not quite so enjoyable when the weather closes in.
It’s quite a tough scramble in places so I’d suggest you give it a miss if you’re not physically fit and able, and I definitely wouldn’t attempt it if you’ve got kids in tow. That being said it’s well worth the effort if you want to explore this part of the Scottish Highlands and I guarantee you’ll enjoy the view once you get near the top.
Things to do at Bidean Nam Bian
Two of the peaks of the three sisters, Beinn Fhada and Gearr Aonach are separated by a partly concealed glen known as the lost valley, which at one time was used by Clan Macdonald to hide their livestock from thieves but is today mainly used by hikers making their way up to the Bidean ridge.
The most popular route up into the mountains heads out over a 2.5-mile path starting at the Glencoe car park near Loch Achtriochtan and finishing at the peak of Stob Coire nan Lochan.
This route is quite busy at times so during the summer it’s probably best to avoid it at weekends, especially as the car park gets clogged up with coachloads of tourists visiting the nearby loch.
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The path is easy-going at the start but it becomes a fairly tricky scramble across several rocky sections in the middle although the views at the finish point two-thirds of the way up the mountain make up for the hard work needed during the ascent.
Partway along the route you’ll come across a waterfall thundering down the mountainside which is a good spot to cool down but be careful if you try to get down to the pool under the waterfall as it’s very slippery.
The path continues up in the direction of Stob Coire nan Lochan where you’ll find another waterfall in a small box canyon before exiting out onto the summit of the north ridge.
From here you’ll get amazing views in all directions and you can either head back down to the car park or push on further into the mountain range towards the 1,150 metre summit of Bidean Nam Bian.
Discover more places to visit in the Scottish Highlands with my Highlands articles.
- The views from the bottom all the way to the top are breathtaking.
- The view from Loch Achtriochtan down the glen is superb. You’ve also got lots of options to go walking in almost any direction on waymarked footpaths.
- The path up Bidean Nam Bian is quite easy for the entire bottom third so it’s a good route if you’re not particularly fit.
- It’s a bit of a scramble in places towards the top. Don’t attempt the climb to the top if you’ve got any mobility problems or you’re wearing the wrong footwear. Crocs and flip-flops are a no-no on this climb.
- There aren’t any facilities in the immediate area unless you want to drive up the road to the Glencoe visitor Centre. The route from Loch Achtriochtan is sheltered so it gets warm in summer. Take plenty of water.
- There’s a car park off the A82 near Loch Achtriochtan but it’s not very big. Get there early to find a space.
Lat/Lon 56.64419°N / 5.03345°W
The terrain is steep and rocky but shouldn’t be too difficult for anyone with average fitness levels, although you’ll find sections of loose scree towards the top that make for quite a difficult scramble.
Start at the Glen Coe car park near Loch Achtriochtan and follow the path to the old track at the bottom of the glen, then head to the footbridge that crosses the River Coe and head towards Coire nan Lochan.
The path offers a nice walk through heather-lined fields and it’s easy to follow as it’s quite well-worn and simply follows the stream that runs off the mountain. Be aware that part of this path crosses large boulders that require quite a climb so if you get halfway up and find hopping over the first boulder is too difficult I suggest you turn around as it doesn’t get any easier from there on.
If you’re able to continue you’ll pass a couple of waterfalls before reaching a small level area that overlooks Glen Coe. This is a perfect place to stop for a picnic but if you want to continue up the steep scree-strewn path you’ll shortly reach the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan where you can continue along a fairly easy incline towards the summit of Bidean Nam Bian.
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Things to do near Bidean Nam Bian
From Loch Achtriochtan car park:
- Glencoe Visitor Centre. Ballachulish PH49 4HX. 4-minute drive. Visitor centre that offers information about Glencoe including its geology and history. Frequently used by tourists as a departure point for walks into the glen. The centre offers viewing platforms, a cinema, a shop and a café.
- Loch Achtriochtan. A82, Ballachulish PH49 4HX. 1-minute walk. A small loch at the foot of Bidean Nam Bian that is often visited by tour buses due to the relatively large car park. The loch is very photogenic as it is located centrally within the glen. The car park is the main departure point for walks up Bidean Nam Bian.
- Coe River Waterfall. Ballachulish PH49 4LA. 6-minute walk. A small waterfall on the River Coe that is easily walked from Loch Achtriochtan. It is possible to walk along the edges of the River Coe on a footpath that passes under the A82 near the car park.
- Glencoe Valley Viewpoint. A82, Ballachulish PH49 4HY. 7-minute drive. Scenic viewpoint in Glencoe on the edge of the A82. There is parking for a few cars although it fills quickly in summer due to the popular walking trail that runs down to the River Coupall.
- Glencoe Folk Museum. Glencoe, Ballachulish PH49 4HS. 5-minute drive. A museum that serves to celebrate the rich local heritage of Glencoe. The museum is housed in a traditional 18th-century heather-thatched cottage.
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