Ever since I was a child dreaming of international travel, the Scottish Highlands ranked high on my to-visit list. I had high expectations when my plane first touched down at Glasgow International Airport last spring, and I’m happy to report Scotland exceeded all of them. Now, I had many a great experiences while in the Highlands. From hiking in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park to touring dramatic castles to exploring small towns, I left Scotland feeling as though I’d only sampled a lovely region I’m excited to one day return to. However, my favorite Highlands experience was unplanned, proving the best travel memories are often made due to impulsive roadside detours.
Glencoe Mountain Resort wasn’t a part of my detailed Scotland itinerary; Kevin and I were traveling with a group of six other family members, and to minimize hiccups, I planned our trip as thoroughly as possible before departing. On our third day in the Highlands, we were driving between the charming cities of Oban and Perth when we happened upon a sign advertising Glencoe Mountain Resort. I flipped open my well-worn Lonely Planet guidebook and read about the resort’s scenic ski lift that takes travelers year-round to the top of a mountain.
Sensing a once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunity not to be missed, I forced Kevin to turn the rental car around. We all bought our tickets for the scenic ski lift ride and the experienced turned out to be a vacation highlight for everyone in the group, whose ages ranged from fourteen to fifty-nine. I know, it’s hard to find attractions teenagers and college students and adults will all appreciate, but Glencoe Mountain Resort did the trick. Trust me, this is the perfect stop for families.
Also, I think these photos will have y’all dreaming of a visit to Scotland. It was hard enough for me to pen this post without checking out flights:
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the ski lift ride up or down the mountain because I’m clumsy and was afraid I’d drop my camera into the snowy abyss. If you look to the far right of the above photo, however, you’ll see part of the ski lift. The ride was smooth and scenic – and if you’re scared of heights, then you’ll be happy to hear how well-maintained and professionally run the ride was, too.
Vaguely relevant anecdote: I have visited a few places where rides/scenic lifts were run by goof-off teens, and I’d never recommend an attraction I didn’t feel perfectly safe visiting. This is why my website does not encourage travelers to visit the amusement park inside Minnesota’s Mall of America – I rode many of the mall’s rides two years ago, and the inattentive fifteen-year-old in charge of the Ferris wheel had a great deal of trouble stopping the ride because he was too busy loudly joking around with one his friends/coworkers. Due to my clumsiness, I’m always slightly nervous when it comes time to hop off a ski lift, but the employee at the top of mountain at Glencoe Mountain Resort was helpful and patient with me!
When I picture Scotland, I think of rolling green hills, drizzling rain, and centuries-old castles. I certainly don’t imagine snow-capped peaks and cloudless skies! The unexpected beauty on display at Glencoe Mountain Resort catapults it to the top of my “must-see” list when in Scotland. Isn’t travel all about challenging your expectations and preconceived notions of a place?
Whoa, I know. I didn’t want to leave; I’m a total mountain bum and, like I said above, our impulsive stop at Glencoe Mountain Resort became one of my favorite experiences not just in Scotland but on our entire seven-country European adventure.
Glencoe Mountain Resort also offers skiing during winter months, if you’re coordinated enough for such an activity! I am not. While there wasn’t much snow during our visit last March, there were still a few skiers determined to make the most of winter’s final days. Mountain biking is the extreme sport of choice for summertime visitors. The scenic ski lift ride, however, is open year-round and is perfect for travelers passing through the region. The entire stop only took about ninety minutes.
Of course, food is available on site – an hour spent riding a ski lift and ambling around a mountaintop left those in my group feeling hungry. Meals, snacks, and hot beverages are all available for purchase at reasonable prices, which is fabulous because prior to stopping at Glencoe Mountain Resort, we had a bit of a hard time finding a place to eat thanks to our lack of smartphones. International roaming charges. Sigh.
We visited in mid-March, and while the sun was bright and the sky blue, temperatures dropped quite drastically upon reaching the top of the mountain. The temperature dropped noticeably on the ski lift ride to the summit; it was about 55 degrees Fahrenheit down below and in the low forties at the summit. As such, I recommend bringing along a jacket and gloves – even in the summertime I’d suggest dressing in layers.
While the ski lift is smooth and rider-friendly, the summit is obviously quite rocky – you’re on a mountain, after all! Definitely wear strong-soled shoes so you can walk around and explore once you reach the summit.
As someone who has traveled extensively around Europe, I found the scenic ski lift ride at Glencoe Mountain Resort to be incredibly affordable. An adult ride on the ski lift costs ten pounds, which was roughly twelve USD at the time of our visit in March 2016. And, as the photographs illustrate, this was money well-spent!
For more information about the resort and its recreational opportunities, please visit their official website here.
I was not paid, reimbursed, or rewarded in any way for writing this post. I simply visited Glencoe Mountain Resort and loved the experience so much I felt compelled to share it with all of my readers. As always, this is a sponsorship-free blog, because I feel that sponsored posts (wherein an attraction or product pays a blogger in exchange for a favorable review) are dishonest. I work hard to give readers fully unbiased reviews and recommendations, and I strongly believe sponsored posts fully compromise this value.