Bidean nam Bian Visitor Guide

By Craig Neil
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Table of Contents


Summary

Located on the south side of Glen Coe, Bidean nam Bian is the highest mountain in the county of Argyll. It rises to a 1,150-metre elevation but there are several flat plateaus along the ascent, making it a favourite with beginner and advanced hill walkers alike.

Discover Bidean nam Bian in this guide which includes an overview and 360° photos.

The highlights

1: This is one of the easiest Munros to access thanks to the car park next to Loch Achtriochtan. From the car park it’s just a 5-minute walk to the start of the Bidean nam Bian ascent.

2: The view from Loch Achtriochtan down the glen is superb. There are lots of options to go walking in almost any direction on waymarked footpaths.

3: The path up Bidean nam Bian is fairly easy for the entire bottom third so it’s a good route if you’re not particularly fit.

Bidean nam Bian

Visiting tips

1: It’s a bit of a scramble in places towards the summit. Don’t attempt the climb if you’re wearing inappropriate footwear. If you’re wondering what to put on your feet, take a look at my recommended walking boots.

2: There aren’t any facilities in the immediate area unless you want to drive up the road to the Glencoe visitor Centre. The centre has a cafe and a small gift shop, as well as a visitor information desk.

3: The car park off the A82 near Loch Achtriochtan is a decent size but it fills quickly once motorhomes start appearing. Get there early to guarantee a space.


Overview

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 are part of the highest mountain in the county of Argyll, rising to 1,150 metres at its highest point with several ascending routes of varying difficulty.

Although there are several options to climb the mountain, by far the most popular is the path from Glencoe car park (you can see the route in the map shown further down this page).

Bidean Nam Bian

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.

Discover more mountains in Scotland with: The Best Munros in Scotland – Ultimate Visitor Guide.

Bidean nam Bian

Tourist information

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.

Bidean Nam Bian

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: The Best Places to Visit in the Highlands – Ultimate Visitor Guide.


Tourist map of Scotland

Ballachulish,
PH49 4HX

Lat/Lon 56.64419°N / 5.03345°W

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Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:

Glen Coe & Glen Etive – 384 Explorer.

Ben Nevis – 41 Landranger.

OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.


Walking route

Click the map for details

Bidean Nam Bian Map

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.

Bidean nam Bian

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.

For a more in-depth look at this route I recommend visiting the Walk Highlands Bidean nam Bian page which features a step-by-step guide with photos of each stage.


Things to do nearby

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.


Frequently asked questions

Where are the Three Sisters in the UK?

The Three Sisters of Glencoe (also known as Bidean nam Bian) is a mountain ridge located in Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands.
Address: Ballachulish, PH49 4HX.

Directions map: Google Maps

How long does it take to climb Bidean nam Bian?

Bidean nam Bian has an elevation of 3,770 feet (1,150 metres) and a walking route that is 6.75 miles (11 km). Expect the return walk to take approximately 7-9 hours, depending on levels of fitness and weather conditions.

What are the names of the Three Sisters of Glencoe?

The Three Sisters are Aonach Dubh, Beinn Fhada, and Gearr Aonach.

How tall is Bidean nam Bian?

Bidean nam Bian has an elevation of 3,770 feet (1,150 metres).