Picture This: The Three Sisters of Glen Coe

by Keith Savage · 11 comments


The west highlands of Scotland are a snapshot of the earth’s slow riot. Brutal crags rip into the sky alongside wide verdigris valleys slashed with ice-white streams. The turf is a thin layer of skin over a stark and statuesque skeleton. I stare at the barren slopes of the Three Sisters of Glen Coe, close to perceiving the memory of trees that hangs like mist around the peaks. Folklore names this place the Glen of Weeping not for the waters springing from the hilltops but for the 17th-century massacre that saw 38 MacDonalds hunted to death in the snows. Some trick of the valley’s acoustics makes the shivering wind into a Fomorian death rattle.

Sorrow’s bloated memory chokes the glen. We men of remembrance project these thoughts here, and the feeling is as real as the ground I stand upon. Why must we hang on to these visions of flesh and blood? Our ability to forget the horrors of life is all that carries us through it. Especially here in Scotland, where the land’s heart beats so close to the surface of the earth, the stains of the past should be allowed to wash away. I want the Three Sisters embroidered with the foliage of ancient trees so that memory, too, might finally burn off in the frail sun.


HallieNo Gravatar April 18, 2012 at 12:06 AM

Scottish Highlands are simply mgicaal. The most beautiful place I’ve explored so far! We had planned to do a cycling trip in the Outer Hebrides but didn’t find the time to do it!! An now I see this pic and I’m like Why???

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 27, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Yeah, tough break there. Though this is merely western mainland Scotland. I’m sure you’ll get there next time 😉

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IdunNo Gravatar April 2, 2012 at 12:58 PM

It’s so strange to see this post now, as I was there, at the Three Sisters, literally two days ago, as a part of a trip to Skye… It’s a beautiful place, even now when it’s rather more brown than in your picture.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 2, 2012 at 3:16 PM

I would love to see it in the off season.

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NickNo Gravatar March 31, 2012 at 5:28 PM

There is so much natural isolation and beauty in the Highlands but I find it a little sad that us tourists get to benefit from these areas that are so pristine partially because so many people were forced to emigrate.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 31, 2012 at 9:52 PM

That’s a powerful point, Nick.

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wandering educatorsNo Gravatar March 31, 2012 at 10:17 AM

i LOVE glen coe.

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Fellow TravellerNo Gravatar March 30, 2012 at 11:17 PM

The first sentences of these two paragraphs are stunning in their blunt, revelatory trueness.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 31, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Glen Coe is an undeniably haunted place.

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KenNo Gravatar March 30, 2012 at 8:00 PM

I remember Glen Coe. Rainy, the day I was there. It was kind of a brooding place but very beautiful in the rain and mist. I love your photograph. It epitomizes my recollection of the beauty of the western highlands.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 30, 2012 at 11:01 PM

You know how it is, never quite know what you’re going to get when it comes to the weather.

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