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Traveling from Glen Coe to the US

My brother and I are planning a trip to the UK in September. Glen Coe will be our final stop. After researching options I have tentatively settled on the following for the trip home:

Drive to Fort William to return the rental car. Take the bus or train to Glasgow. Get COVID tested, stay overnight, and fly out the next day.

We were planning to rent the car in Fort William and return to the same location.

Thoughts/advice appreciated. Happy travels!


Posted by
997 posts

Is there a reason you want to rent and return the car to Fort William? Glasgow is about a 2.5 hour drive from Glencoe. I haven't priced compared but I would think rental prices would be lower in Glasgow because there would be more competition.

Posted by
6287 posts

So Glen Coe is your final stop, but is Fort William also your first stop? If you’re renting there (and do you already have your rental arranged?), and presumably driving a loop, returning to Fort William at the end, that could be efficient. And if driving thru Glen Coe is a definite finale to your trip, then you couldn’t simply pull into Glasgow and return it there, before proceeding g to Glen Coe.

Or, if you’re renting in Fort William, could you head a bit east, and have Glen Coe at the beginning, before doing the rest of the trip? Or start in Fort William, get your car, drive your trip, with Glen Coe the penultimate destination, and then drive on to (or near) Glasgow, where you could turn in the car, and wrap up the trip its final night?

For what it’s worth, our trip back in 2013, Glen Coe was in the middle of our itinerary - towards the end, but not the final destination. We picked it up in Inverness, and returned it at the Edinburgh airport - no charge for the separate locations. We had it for a couple weeks, including Fort William for 2 nights near the end. Leaving Fort William the next-to-last day, it poured rain just as we got into Glen Coe, so we stayed in the car, windshield wipers going at full speed. When the storms ended about lunchtime, we pulled into a pub to dry out, have lunch, then continue east, to Doune and Sterling. Spent that last night in a B&B a fairly short drive from the Edinburgh airport, where we turned in the car and flew home. No train involved.

Posted by
8 posts

We’re traveling to Glen Coe from Edinburgh via Fort William. It’s a Harry Potter trip so we’re staying at the Clachaig Inn and riding the Jacobite. Since there isn’t public transport from the Glen Coe visitor center to the Inn I thought we should rent a car to have flexibility vs. using taxis. We’re only there for 2 full days. We haven’t arranged the rental yet. Neither of us has driven in the UK so I’m a little nervous about it.

Posted by
8 posts

If we decide not to rent a car I guess we could take the bus from Edinburgh to Glen Coe and then a taxi to the inn? Does Glen Coe have shops/places to buy snacks and stuff? I only know it as the filming location for Harry Potter :)

Posted by
6 posts

The village is pretty small so there might be a small shop that residents frequent? Granted, I was there 10 years ago and I'm sure there have been changes.

As for the bus vs car hire, I'd recommend a car hire for ease of transit, idk how many taxis exist (again, small village), and the 2 bridges over the river that get you to the inn are 3 miles apart with the visitor centre smack dab in between. As a student, I took the bus from Glasgow and spent much of the day walking between the visitor centre and the village to reach the bridge to the hostel where we were staying. So unless you are prepared for loads of walking in event of no taxis available, a car hire is likely your best bet.

Posted by
103 posts

Glencoe is a small village - Iirc there is a small village shop and there are a few hotels with bars/restaurants between there are Ballachulish. However, the Clachaig Inn isn't actually in Glencoe village and is a couple of miles away in the countryside.

Unless you want a lot of hassle (and probably expense) getting taxis, or spending hours walking then I'd definitely advise getting a hire car as it will make things a lot easier and let you see a lot more of the area in a far more flexible way.

Wrt to heading back to the US then the options you have mentioned are probably the best. The train journey is very scenic and takes a slightly different route to the bus, so taking that south might give the best option. However, the 1110 and 1410 bus departures from Ft William call in to drop off at Glasgow airport forecourt, so that might be an option, depending on flight dep time or if you don't want to go into the city (there are 4 or 5 hotels at Glasgow airport). Tbh I would personally still stay in the city centre your last night cause you'll get a much better dining choice - if you have spare few hours in Glasgow there's lots to see - I believe the Hogwarts building in the films was modelled on Glasgow university.

The idea of keeping your car and driving to Glasgow airport sounds good in theory, but the problem that you'll likely find is that you're hiring a car in Ft William from a small independent operator with one rental location and as such you'll only be able to hand it back in Ft William and nowhere else. If you wanted to hand back at Glasgow/Glasgow airport, you'd probably need to hire all the way from when you leave Edinburgh.

When you take the bus from Edinburgh to Glencoe, bear in mind that most bus services to the W Highlands dep from Glasgow rather than Edinburgh. As such theres only 1 direct bus per day from Edinburgh to Glencoe vs. 7 or 8 from Glasgow. If that one bus fits in your itinerary then that's fine, but if you want to travel later in the day then you can take a bus from Edinburgh to Glasgow Buchanan St Bus Stn and change there for Ft William.

Posted by
1010 posts

There's a in Glencoe village that will keep you fed
That said it's a 20 min flat stroll to the Co Op at Ballachuish.
What I will say it's a huge hiking area,if you have a backpack on you will get a ride.
The walk from the junction of the A82 at Loch Achtriochtan parking area to the Clachaig is trivial.

Posted by
1010 posts

Against all that ,the drive up the A82 is very special just gets better and better as you leave Balloch.
Beinn Dorain is a beauty.
I intend to be in the Clachaig ( again) in 10 days time

Posted by
276 posts

Village store and a few cafes in the village 4 kms from Clachaig Inn. Great spot by the way we stayed at Red Squirrel just up the road. I ran all around the stunning hills, brilliant countryside.
Other food options around too.
I love Fort William, many don't seem too. Thought it a brilliant place too.
Your plan seems ideal to my simple mind.
Don't stress about the driving, just enjoy the stunning scenery.