Glen Etive is located in the Scottish Highlands between Loch Etive and the A82. Due to the combination of snow-capped peaks and the River Etive, which runs alongside a single-track road for 12 miles, the valley offers one of Scotland’s most picturesque walks.

The area is home to a variety of Scottish wildlife, including red deer, golden eagles, and otters. Photographers and nature lovers alike visit Glen Etive to enjoy the wildlife and serene landscapes.

glen etive


What if I told you there’s a 12-mile stretch of road where you can see mountains, rivers, and forests in one area, where gob-smackingly beautiful vistas open up around every corner on a secluded, frequently tourist-free single-track road?

The road in question runs through Glen Etive, and to my mind, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Scotland. You’ll find Glen Etive by following the A82 between Glencoe and Bridge of Orchy in the north of Argyll, not far from the Glencoe Mountain Resort, where a signpost points southwest onto a minor road. This meandering road was actually built to service the settlements of Dalness and Gualachulain, and thankfully for nature-loving tourists, that means we get easy access to this remarkably off-grid region of Scotland.

The Glen Etive road is narrow and winding with lots of twisty-turny sections, so you’ll need to keep your wits about you as you follow it, but at least there are plenty of passing spaces where you can stop the car to gaze at the landscape.

The first highlights are the ‘Herdsmen of Etive’ – two enormous mountains that dominate the landscape and are among the most photographed mountains in Scotland. These vast peaks, Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag, stand guard at the northern end of the glen and look out over the banks of the River Etive, which the road follows to its final destination at Loch Etive.

While the herdsmen are possibly the most impressive peaks, you’ll get the opportunity to view several others as you make your way to the car park at the tip of Loch Etive. Whether tackling Glen Etive on foot, bicycle, or car, it’s undeniable that the glen is absolutely beautiful, however you visit it.

Glen Etive

The Highlights

1: Glen Etive gained additional fame as a filming location for several movies, most notably for the James Bond film ‘Skyfall’, where it was featured as part of the backdrop to Bond’s ancestral home in Scotland.

2: Glen Etive is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and wild camping.

3: For photographers and wildlife enthusiasts, bring a camera with a good zoom and binoculars. Dawn and dusk are the best times for wildlife spotting and photography, offering softer light and an increased chance of seeing red deer.

Visiting Tips

1: Practice responsible tourism by following the Leave No Trace principles. Take all rubbish with you, avoid lighting fires, and if you’re wild camping, pitch your tent discreetly at least 100 metres from the road, and move on after one or two nights.

2: If you plan to visit Glen Etive, it’s essential to prepare for the lack of amenities as there are no shops or restaurants within the glen itself. Visitors should take necessary supplies, dress appropriately for the weather, and be prepared for quickly changing conditions, which are common in the Highlands.

3: The road through Glen Etive is a narrow, single-track road with several passing places. Be prepared to encounter oncoming traffic and know how to use the passing places to allow vehicles to pass safely. Most importantly, do not leave your car unattended in passing places. They are not lay-bys!

Glen Etive

Tourist Information

The scenery is the main draw for tourists in this part of Scotland, but there are plenty of sporting opportunities in the area if you’re more into adrenaline sports than wildlife-watching. The highlight has to be the Glencoe Ski Resort Centre, which has good facilities including a campsite with campervan hookups and camping pitches.

In addition to the mountain resort with its assortment of skiing and snowboarding runs, the River Etive is a favourite with whitewater kayakers thanks to the torrents that flood down it off Rannoch Moor after a good rainfall.

The waters of the river are exceptionally clear, and I had no problem drinking from it at the thundering Etive Mor Waterfall, which you’ll find around four miles from the initial A82 turning point. This is a great spot to get out of the car and absorb the mist-covered moorland, but don’t be surprised to suddenly find you’re not alone.

Herds of wild red deer call the majority of Glen Etive their home and I can confirm that this particular spot near the waterfall is a firm favourite with them. No sooner had I approached than a group of startled heads suddenly popped up out of the cover of the moorland, wide-eyed and staring with a mix of curiosity and caution.

After a few minutes, the deer lost interest in and they allowed me to get quite close, which I’m guessing means they’re accustomed to visits from tourists. However, it’s worth remembering that these are wild animals, and they may be protective of their young, so it’s not a good idea to get too close.

Glen Etive

Continuing down the glen, keep your eyes on the road a few miles past the waterfall as you’ll see the place featured in the James Bond movie Skyfall, where Bond and M make a quick stop on their way to Skyfall Lodge. It’s no more spectacular than any other part of Glen Etive, to be honest, but it’s very, very atmospheric and certainly makes a good photo opportunity.

I suggest you take care as the moorland is very boggy around that area, which makes parking off the road a little tricky, and of course, you shouldn’t stop at the passing spaces as you’ll potentially block the road for other users. But even so, a James Bond-style selfie is a must-do if you’re driving down this road.

Continuing further takes you past the Dalness Estate and into the Glen Etive Forest, at which point the road gets a little narrower. The family of James Bond author Ian Fleming once owned Dalness, and you’re welcome to spend the night there if you so choose, but be aware that it’s very expensive at around £11,000 for a 7-night stay (as of 2024). You can check out the Dalness Estate website for further details if you’re interested.

The landscape continues onward unchanged for the remaining few miles to the start of Loch Etive, with the River Etive gently winding its way southwest and the occasional lochan breaking cover amongst the impenetrable Scottish pines.

Eventually, the road comes to an abrupt end at a small car park where you can get out of the car and marvel at the watery expanse of Loch Etive which is vast at 30 km long, 1.5km wide, and 150m deep. It’s a great spot to clamber aboard a kayak, and if you’re uber-active, you could make your way to the Sound of Mull and back as the loch is open to the sea at its far end.

Glen Etive

Things to Do

Wildlife Spotting: Glen Etive is a paradise for wildlife lovers, offering sightings of red deer, golden eagles and even wild mountain goats. Don’t forget your binoculars (link to binocular reviews) for the best views, and try to get there early in the morning for the best chance of seeing these animals in their natural habitat.

Stargazing: As Glen Etive is relatively secluded and far away from towns and villages, it’s an excellent spot for stargazing. On a clear night, you can marvel at countless stars, the Milky Way, and perhaps even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

Hiking Buachaille Etive Mor: This iconic mountain provides a challenging hike that rewards climbers with panoramic views of Rannoch Moor and Bidean Nam Bian. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but the breathtaking views from the top are well worth the effort. Pack a sturdy pair of hiking boots (link to boot reviews) and prepare for an exhilarating day out.

Photography: Glen Etive’s stunning landscapes, from the serene River Etive to the dramatic mountains that line the glen, are a must-visit for any photographer. Capture the beauty of Scotland in all its raw and untamed glory and enjoy the spectacle of red deer roaming in one of Scotland’s most picturesque areas.

Wild Camping: Experience the beauty of Glen Etive by spending a night under the stars. There are several spots along the river where you can set up camp, but remember to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code: leave no trace and respect the wildlife and the environment.

Glen Etive

Things to Do Nearby

Bidean Nam Bian. Ballachulish PH49 4LA. A 30-minute drive, 2-hour walk. Stunning 3,770-foot mountain in Glencoe that is part of the ‘three sisters’ ridge. Easily accessed from Loch Achtriochtan on the A82. The climb to the summit is steep but there are multiple level sections along the trail.

Glencoe Valley Viewpoint/Buchaille Etive Mor. A82, Ballachulish PH49 4HY. 34-minute drive.
A stunning viewpoint that offers unparalleled views of Rannoch Moor. The view of the lone whitewashed house under the mountain is one of the most recognizable in the Highlands.

Glas Bheinn Mhor. Taynuilt PH49 4JA. 2-hour walk.
A 3,271-foot mountain that forms part of the Ben Starav range. Usually accessed from Glen Etive via the southernmost car park at the northern end of Loch Etive. Rough paths give way to an unmarked mountainside so it’s not really suitable for mountain-hiking novices.

Beinn Sgulaird. Appin PA35 1JT. 2-hour walk.
A lesser-visited mountain (Munro) between Loch Creran and Glen Etive. The paths are in good condition but the section towards the summit is a rocky scramble. Offers panoramic views of Mull on a good day.

Glencoe Mountain Resort. Glencoe PH49 4HZ. 36-minute drive. Winter sports resort located in Rannoch moor with chairlift rides, mountain bike slaloms and some of the best ski slopes in Scotland. Has superb views of Buachaille Etive Mor. The resort features a campsite and log cabin café.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you drive down Glen Etive?

The Glen Etive drive involves taking the single-track road off the A82, located 1.5 miles northwest of the turning to the Glencoe Mountain Resort. The road is 11.5 miles long and ends at the head of Loch Etive.

Where in Glen Etive was Skyfall filmed?

Skyfall was filmed on the Dalness Estate (Glen Etive postcode: Ballachulish PH49 4HY). The location of the viewpoint is marked on Google Maps.

Do you need a permit to fish Loch Etive?

No permit is required to fish in Loch Etive as it is a sea loch.
Some of the fish in Loch Etive are; cod, pollack, mackerel, whiting, pouting, skate, thornback rays, and hake.

What visitor facilities are there at Glen Etive?

There are no visitor facilities at Glen Etive. The nearest visitor facilities are located at the NTS Glencoe Visitor Centre.

Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.