Some people come to Scotland to delve deep into the country’s rich and brutal history; others to traverse and climb its spectacular mountains – many of which are some of Europe’s finest – while still more come just to enjoy a wee dram in the place where whisky began. If you fall into any of these categories, or ideally all three, the Red Squirrel campsite is the place for you. It’s a cosy place, dwarfed by a phalanx of towering highland peaks in a glen draped in bloody history and home to one of Scotland’s most famous pubs, where whisky-drinking is practically obligatory.
The Red Squirrel lies in Glencoe, many Scots’ favourite glen, which is praise indeed in a country that overflows with epic scenery. From the moment you begin the descent from the barren wastelands of Rannoch Moor, it’s clear you’re approaching somewhere special, as the road dips to acknowledge huge glacial massifs on either flank. If you’re not an experienced walker, then this is foreboding stuff. The visitor centre in the glen organises walks for those not keen on heading out on their own; but if you have the right gear, knowledge and experience, check the weather forecast and you can just set off on one of the myriad hikes and climbs that break off in every direction.
The campsite is also perfect for those who enjoy mountains from a purely sedentary position. On a sunny day you can just laze around this grassy site, which spreads across 20 acres of meadow and woodland with a couple of burns snaking through it. The Red Squirrel describes itself as a ‘casual farm site’ and casual it is indeed, with no official pitches. Push through to the end of the camp and follow the overgrown trail (you’ll think you have gone the wrong way) and you can pitch on an isolated island with great views. Elsewhere, a freshwater pool sits invitingly, awaiting any camper brave enough to take the plunge and enjoy an envigorating swim. Another plus is that in specific spots the Red Squirrel allows open fires, though not after 11pm, when a silence rule descends on the camp.
After a hard day walking in the hills, or a sombre one visiting the massacre memorial and the visitor centre that illuminates the glen’s history, most campers seek refuge in the welcoming arms of the legendary Clachaig Inn. A sign at the door bans ‘Hawkers and Campbells’ and this is deadly serious – history in this part of the world is strictly of the living variety. All other visitors, though, are welcomed through the door and into the bar like long-lost cousins and are soon enveloped in a world of tall stories, live music and more than one or two wee drams.
FacilitiesClean new facilities blocks, water taps dotted around the site and a small information booth. Free Wi-Fi. Further toilets are scattered around the site, but you need to ask for them to be opened. There’s a designated family area so kid campers can get to know one another and head off for adventures among the trees.
Food & Drink
The legendary Clachaig Inn (01855 811252) is staggering distance up the road back towards Glencoe. The Boots Bar is the place to be if you’ve just come off the hills covered head to foot in mud. The main lounge bar is a more comfortable spot with views out of the large windows; both serve hearty walker-friendly food like wild boar burgers, with regular music on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer.
Opening TimesAll year (except December & January).
No availability showing at Red Squirrel.
Scottish Citylink (08705 505050) services (either bus no. 914 or 915, depending on when you’re travelling) from Glasgow stop at the Glencoe Visitor Centre.
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