I’d better start by getting a fairly obvious elf’n’safety point out of the way: no, Ledi has never cosied up to a deer. He used to give reasonable chase in his youth but, even though he’s mellowed with age and now doesn’t bother much about them, I’m not risking a Sausage skewer.
I, too, am highly unlikely to get out of the car while there’s a wild stag in the vicinity. Lots of the red deer in and around Glen Etive have got used to people, as it’s popular with tourists – plenty of whom seem to have no qualms about walking up to the wild animals, handing over food and grabbing a selfie - but it’s still a daft idea to get too close. While the groups of hinds might be very patient and seem friendly, remember that where there are ladies, there’s a watchful, protective fella with antlers somewhere not far behind.
That said, before they knocked down the old Kings House Hotel and replaced it with the modern Kingshouse Hotel, I did get fairly close to one of the many stag that littered the grounds and were virtually housetrained. That was when I discovered that the youngsters’ antlers are covered with fuzzy hair, known as ‘velvet’, and the hard bone only develops as the stag ages. Apparently, the velvet skin dries out and falls off, then they ‘polish’ the bone by rubbing it against trees. I love learning stuff!
June 2015, Kings House Hotel, Glen Coe
Back to Glen Etive. It’s one of my happy places and a beautiful 18.5 mile drive (part of which featured in Skyfall, when James is driving M to his childhood home). At the start of the glen, you have the much-photographed Glen Coe icon of Buachaille Etive Mor – worth hopping out and walking to see the little waterfall there – and then as you drive down the glen, keep an eye on the River Etive on the left because there are a couple of places where rocks & waterfalls combine for the perfect resting spot.
Two good stopping spots (Google Maps)
The stag tend to gather more towards the bottom end of the glen, partly because that’s where the land/estate managers put out salt licks for them but also because there’s a good amount of bracken and woodland coverage. Great for them; not so helpful if you’re trying to get a photo and they’ve very sneakily gone dark.
February 2016 & November 2018
February 2016 & November 2018
Do take it easy when you go around corners, because the deer have no road sense. The first time I went down the glen, I swung round a corner to be met with the biggest stag I’d ever seen, standing right in the middle of the road, looking at me. Magnificent, but by the time I’d grovelled for my camera, he’d bounded off.
Carry on right down to the end of the road - which is littered with fab photo opportunities - and then you can turn around in the little car park at the end. One of the best things about any excursion is getting the reverse view on the way back and I always feel as though Glen Etive gives you two very different journeys – both equally impressive.
Glen Etive turning off the A82
Getting there: From Glasgow, take the A82 north and just keep going! From Stirling and The Trossachs, take the A84 to Lochearnhead and then carry on up the A85 to Crianlarich, where it meets the A82, signed Fort William. Just past the Green Welly stop at Tyndrum, bear right to stay on the A82. In around 15 minutes you’ll reach Rannoch Moor and about 5 miles further on, you’ll pass Glencoe Mountain Resort on your left, then the Kingshouse Hotel on your right. Go over the bridge and Glen Etive is your next left.
Sat Nav: PH49 4HY
Terrain: Road, turf, heather, rocks – wear decent walking boots. The ground around the Buachaille waterfall is often very boggy and muddy, so wellies might be best!
Nearest facilities: Nothing in Glen Etive, so take a picnic. On the main road, there’s the Kingshouse Hotel or carry on through Glen Coe for about 10 mins (stunning!) and pop into the Boots Bar at the Clachaig Inn, where dogs are very welcome, there’s a log burner and a fantastic selection of whiskies! (Dog policy if you want to stay there.)
All maps in the blog are from Google Maps