See all stories
4 Dec 2023

Works begins on the new Glencoe Greenway

A man in a blue National Trust for Scotland jackets stands in Glencoe, with mountains rising in the distance, holding a clipboard and a measuring wheel.
Scott McCombie, Senior Ranger at Glencoe, about to walk the route of the Glencoe Greenway
The Glencoe Greenway will improve safe and sustainable access into the heart of the glen for walkers, cyclists and others.

This winter we’re excited to start construction of the Glencoe Greenway, a shared-use path enabling local people and visitors to walk, cycle or wheel into the heart of the glen from the west. At the moment, they have to make a hazardous journey on the narrow verge of the busy A82 trunk road.

The £1m project involves creating 2km of new ‘all-ability’ pathway from our popular Glencoe Visitor Centre to the An Torr and Signal Rock car park, where it will connect with existing paths into the glen. We will also upgrade 2km of existing pathway from the Visitor Centre towards Glencoe village, through National Trust for Scotland and Forest & Land Scotland woodlands.

A man and woman, both in red jackets, sit on a wall outside the Glencoe Visitor Centre, while their brown dog jumps up at them with its front paws on their knees.
Glencoe Visitor Centre

As well as opening up access to the glen to a wider range of users, the project supports our charity’s goal to reduce Glencoe visitors’ reliance on car travel and offer attractive alternatives to driving into the glen. The work has been made possible thanks to funding from the Scottish Government, administered through Sustrans Scotland’s Network Development Fund; the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) which was established by the Scottish Government and managed by VisitScotland on its behalf; and funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Initial survey work was funded by the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership, HITRANS, in 2022.

The Greenway will complete the circular traffic-free ‘Glencoe Orbital Recreation Trail’ between Glencoe village, the National Trust for Scotland’s Glencoe Visitor Centre and the old road to Glencoe village via the Clachaig Inn, a long-held aspiration of the community, the Trust and other local stakeholders. It will also provide a direct traffic-free connection with the popular ‘Caledonia Way’ National Cycle Network Route 78, which travels from Oban to Fort William, via Ballachulish Bridge.

This is the first step towards a long-term ambition to create a continuous traffic-free path the entire length of the glen, and Transport Scotland has commissioned a feasibility study to review the potential for achieving this.

Emily Bryce, the National Trust for Scotland’s Operations Manager at Glencoe, commented: 'Glencoe’s natural beauty and cultural history attract visitors from across the globe and over 2 million vehicles a year drive this 10-mile stretch through the Glen. Such a volume of traffic inevitably places pressure on the landscape, as well as the locals who live here year-round.

‘In 2020, the National Trust for Scotland conducted a public survey, which was completed by over 3,000 respondents. We asked for views on how to reduce challenges with parking capacity in Glencoe National Nature Reserve, and there was resounding support (over nine out of 10 people) for the suggestion to ‘enable people to walk or bike into the heart of Glen with improved footpaths’. So, that’s exactly what we are aiming to do with the Glencoe Greenway.

‘For the first time, we’re making it possible for people to walk, cycle, push a buggy or take a wheelchair on a traffic-free path into Glencoe from the east. This will enable locals and visitors alike to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, nature, beauty and heritage of this part of the glen, knowing they are also helping to care for it by enjoying it more sustainably.’

A man and a woman lean on bicycles as they talk and laugh. There is a sign just behind them that says Welcome to Glencoe, with a map underneath.
The Glencoe Greenway will make it safer for cyclists of all abilities to bike into the heart of the glen.

The new path has been designed to minimise its visual impact on Glencoe’s scenic landscape. It will follow the route of the A82, separated from the road by hedging and other vegetation, with a bound gravel surface in the same material as the glen’s existing low-level path network. There will be rest benches along the route and interpretation at the archaeological site of the long-lost historic settlement of Achnacon, one of the townships which gave inspiration for the 17th-century turf and creel house reconstruction at the Trust’s Glencoe Visitor Centre.

Stuart Brooks, Director of Conservation and Policy, added: ‘As a conservation charity and custodian of 14,000 acres in Glencoe, we work hard to balance a range of priorities in this busy National Nature Reserve. We want visitors and local people to have a positive experience here, providing sensitively designed facilities to empower people to enjoy this special place responsibly while minimising the pressure popularity places on this precious landscape. Our ranger team works hard to help nature flourish in Glencoe and we’re excited for the public to witness the regeneration of the glen’s protected habitats in the years ahead.

‘The construction of the Glencoe Greenway directly supports all these aspirations, and the wider conservation, engagement and sustainability objectives of the National Trust for Scotland’s 2022 Nature, Beauty and Heritage for Everyone strategy. As well as providing a low-carbon alternative to vehicle travel into the glen, we hope the Greenway will encourage a more diverse audience to discover the stories and sights of this special place, as well as learn about the work our charity is doing to help nature to flourish across the NNR.’

Chris Brace, Principal Network Development Manager, Sustrans Scotland, explained: ‘We are delighted to see the commencement of the Glencoe project, marking a significant stride towards providing safe, accessible and traffic-free access to the Glencoe National Nature Reserve. When complete, the newly created 2km shared-use path will connect to existing paths, allowing residents and visitors to avoid the busy A82 trunk road and connect to the National Cycle Network Route 78.

‘The improvements will reduce car dependence by providing a safe and alternative way to travel. We hope this will give more people, regardless of age or ability, the confidence to make healthier and more sustainable choices for their everyday journeys.’

The Highland Council’s, Economy and Infrastructure Committee Chair, Cllr Ken Gowans, said: ‘The Highland Council are pleased to be part of the project team behind the exciting Glencoe Greenway. The collaborative approach to delivering RTIF projects enables communities to make meaningful changes that offer health and wellbeing benefits for both residents and the thousands of visitors that enjoy the Glencoe area each year.’

Local Oban-based contractor, McLarens will be carrying out the works on the Glencoe Greenway route in stages from now until the end of March, with final surface finishing taking place in late spring or early summer 2024. To enable construction to take place safely, from 20 November, the existing path from Glencoe Visitor Centre towards Glencoe village will be closed for approximately eight weeks at the point where it leaves the A82 pavement and enters woodland. The project has been programmed outside the busy tourist season to minimise disruption to visitors and local people.

The Greenway project complements other visitor infrastructure improvement activities already underway in Glencoe NNR. This includes a project to address safety and capacity pressure at the busy ‘Coire Gabhail’ and ‘Coire nan Lochan’ parking areas overlooking the Three Sisters, plus various sensitive parking improvements in Glen Etive, including an expanded layby at the famous ‘Skyfall’ viewpoint. This separate programme of work has been funded by the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF), the Coastal Communities Fund, the National Trust for Scotland and other generous local supporters.

Three mountain peaks against blue sky, with fluffy clouds.
Three Sisters, Glencoe

We are grateful to the different organisations helping to fund the Glencoe Greenway:


Sustrans works for and with communities, helping them come to life by walking, wheeling and cycling to create healthier places and happier lives for everyone. Across the UK it involves communities in shaping towns and cities. Sustrans campaigns for and creates spaces where everyone can move around safely and gives people the tools and confidence to get out of their cars. It inspires people to change the way we all travel every day, forging closer connections with our neighbours and reducing traffic to create a better environment and more sustainable society for everyone.

Sustrans is a registered charity in England and Wales (number 326550) and Scotland (SC039263).

Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF)

The Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) was established by the Scottish Government and the Fund is managed by VisitScotland on its behalf. To date, £18 million of grant funding has been awarded to 74 projects across rural Scotland since the start of the Fund in 2018.

People’s Postcode Lottery

This project is also supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, who have now raised more than £1 billion for thousands of charities and local good causes. This includes a total of over £2.5m for the National Trust for Scotland to support its work to enrich and protect Scotland’s landscapes and wildlife, since 2014.

Explore Glencoe

Visit now