|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Loch Etive (NN110453)|
|Distance:||12.2 miles (19.6 km)|
|Route outline (key)|
The C1094 is one of the finest roads in the Highlands, travelling down through the splendour of Glen Etive. Unusually for such routes, the vast majority of visitors will start at the top of the glen, near the Kingshouse Hotel at the northern end of Rannoch Moor. The Munro of Buchaille Etive Mor stands guard at the head of the glen, its massive triangular silhouette a famous view of the Highlands seen in gift shops and on Calendars the length and breadth of the country. A short distance down the road, it crosses the River Coupall just below some falls which is another favourite view.
The road then starts the long descent of the glen, winding down alongside the River Etive, which in places has the appearance of a mountain stream as it cascades over rocky shelves and snakes around ridiculous meanders, the scale is a bit different though! The rest of the scenery is bleak, the bare moorland rising from the valley floor to the scree clad summits, views which will tempt the explorer out to seek a way up the hills, but even for the more sedentary visitor the views are amazing. After heavy rain, the river is a raging torrent down below, and the mountain streams are brilliant white as they rush down the hillside.
It is about 4 miles of winding down this landscape before the first house appears, sitting on the far side of the river, across a gated bridge (walkers welcome). The road is closer to the river now, and following the bends around rocky outcrops, offering some stunning views, especially when the river is in spate, with the cascades close at hand. Then, suddenly, the landscape changes. The glen opens out and the big house of Dalness can be seen across a meadow ahead. To the right, two mountain passes join and drop steeply down into the glen, both leading back to Glen Coe, and making an interesting circular walk.
The road winds around the back of Dalness, a line of trees screening the property, and then emerges once more into the open glen that now lies ahead. There are a couple of other properties, tucked away in little wooded glades, over the next couple of miles as the road stays above the valley floor, running through forestry and moorland fields. At Invercharnan, the road drops sharply down, and turns towards the river, and this is the most populated part of the glen, a little oasis of civilisation hemmed in by the mountains. In the past, there have been extensive glades of Rhododendrons around here, but work is ongoing to eradicate the invasive varieties.
Beyond the houses, the road emerges from the trees and the glen opens out again. The landscape is still mostly rough moorland, with a series of rough parking areas along the roadside to cater for the many walkers heading off across the bridge at Coileitir to explore the Munros beyond. A mile further on and the houses associated with Glen Etive House are found, and with another scattering of houses alongside the road, the car park at the head of the loch is reached. At this point we find the best thing about this amazing road - it is a dead end so almost everyone who reaches this far has the immense pleasure of heading back up the glen.
The only exception are the few hardy souls who choose to cycle down the glen, and then continue along the paths and tracks along the loch shore to reach Bonawe or Inverawe to the south. Walkers too may tackle the route, although it would require wild camping along the way, something for which the whole glen is used in peak summer, somewhat detracting from the scenery at times. One final comment on the road is that it used to be a little longer, terminating at the pier at the head of the loch. However, in c2009 the pier was rebuilt to facilitate the exporting of timber from the glen, and so the road was curtailed to the new car park.