At the beginning of our Scotland road trip, we headed towards Fort William. During the day we’d taken a slow drive, and several stops, to take in the magnificent scenery. It was getting late and we still needed to find a quiet, safe wildcamp spot for the night as unfortunately all the campsites on route were fully booked. Lucky for us we came across Ballachulish village on the shore of Loch Leven. What a great find and a very handy wildcamp option if you’re travelling north through Glencoe.
Located on the shore of Loch Leven, Ballachulish (Ba-la-hoo-lish :-)) is Gaelic for “Village of the Narrows”.
Once a thriving slate quarry, the first slate was produced here in 1693. Much of Glasgow and Edinburghs’ skyline is made from the hardwearing slate from the quarriers around the village. The Ballachulish Slate Company closed down in late 1955 and disused quarries can be still seen nearby.
From the Ballachulish Visitor Centre you can walk across the road to the quarry where a marked trail with information boards tells the history of the quarry and the people who lived and worked there.
This Scottish landscape has featured in films such as James Bond’s Skyfall, several Harry Potter films and Monty Python.
When we visited:
We visited the Glencoe area late August 2021 at the beginning of our 6 week Scotland road trip. As you can see in our photos we were very lucky with the weather. Loch Leven was breathtaking at both sunrise and sunset. There was hardly a ripple on the Loch at times, which provided a mirror image of the sunset in the water at the far end of the Loch.
The Loch is popular for sailing as well as canoeing, paddle boarding and cold water swimming. There are seals in this loch, which are often seen playing around the Island (Eilean Munde – Isle of the dead) in the middle of loch.
This small island is where Highland clans laid their dead to rest in peace. There are over 300 graves including that of the Clan chief Maclain of Glencoe. In January 1692, 128 soldiers arrived in Glencoe where they stayed under the hospitality of the MacDonald Clan for 12 days. On the 13th day, the soldiers turned on their hosts, killing 38 of the clan. The reason? King William the Third had ordered all clan chiefs to pledge an oath of their allegiance. Maclain of Glencoe travelled to Fort William to sign for the clan and, on arrival, he discovered he had to go to Inveraray. Difficult conditions meant he signed 5 days after the deadline and there were some who decided he should be punished for his late pledge! A memorial for the massacre can be found in Glencoe Village
How to get to Ballachulish
Heading north from Glasgow, Ballachulish is just off the A82.
Ordnance Survey – Personalised Gift Map
What we liked about this area
- There’s a handy wild camping spot outside the Ballachulish Visitor Centre. There are several Motorhome friendly parking spots in the car park as well as public toilets (small fee) and waste bins. Overnight parking is free but it’s popular during summer months so don’t arrive too late. There’s also a Co-op next door so you can pick up fresh pastries for breakfast.
- This is a great place to safely swim with your dog and it seems very popular with the local dogs too. Coco loved her Loch swim with Dave.
- Stunning sunrise and sunsets provide great photo opportunities around the Loch for landscape photography fans
- If you follow the road that runs underneath the A82 from the visitor centre, there’s a FREE car park right next to the Loch. We had no problems parking our motorhome here. Note: the car park is closed overnight (gate/barrier) so it’s not a wild camp option, which we think is a real shame. We parked here most of the day for a swim, a walk along the Ballachulish Peninsula and a spot of lunch whilst dry off in the sunshine.
Points to Note
- Although this wild camp option is next to the A82, traffic here is very minimal during the night. We had no problems sleeping, however there were one or two bored teenagers hanging out in their cars early evening. Thankfully they were gone before 9pm and didn’t cause any problems for the wild campers. Sadly, this seems to be a problem right across the UK.
- For those who prefer a campsite there’s a great campsite at Bunree, which our friends stayed at and really enjoyed. Sadly they were fully booked when we tried to book our motorhome in for the night. So booking in advance is recommended during summer.
- Ballachulish Visitor Centre
- Glenroe Visitor Centre
- Glencoe Mountain – Great for information on skiing in winter and walks in summer
Our Scotland Road Trip – an introduction to our Scotland road trip series
Findhorn Beach and Motorhome Stopover – Fabulous dog friendly beach and Motorhome Aire on the North Est Coast 250 route.
Visit Harry Potter Bridge – the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Monument are a lovely day trip out for family
I hope you’ve enjoyed my review of Ballachulish Loch Leven.
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