Small loch in Glen Etive, Highlands
© Oliver Hellowell/Minden Picture
An island in the Highlands
There's something about the rugged environs of Glen Etive in the Highlands that has tickled the imaginations of both ancient and modern storytellers. A glen is a long, narrow valley and this one is especially beautiful. It has strange footnotes in both Irish and Scottish folklore. The name itself translates to 'little fierce one' and is a nod to Etive, the Gaelic goddess long associated with nearby Loch Etive.
According to an Irish myth, Glen Etive was founded by the tragic heroine Deirdre and her lover Naoise after they were forced into exile. In Scottish folklore, Glen Etive is said to be the home of a mythical creature called a Fachan, a giant cyclops with one leg, a single tuft of hair and a lone hand protruding from its chest. Glen Etive has caught the attention of modern storytellers as well, drawn to its history and beautiful scenery. A surprising number of TV shows and major films, including Braveheart and Skyfall, have shot on location here.
Glen Etive is also one of Scotland's 40 National Scenic Areas, and is a favourite destination for white water kayakers, who shoot down the rapids, waterfalls and pool drops along the River Etive. Hikers trek the mountain trails around Ben Starav to the south east and the Glen Coe mountains in the north. Some hikers, known as peak or munro baggers, make it a game to summit every peak in the region. So far, about 4,000 people have completed the entire list of 282 Scottish munros - peaks over 3,000ft (914m) high.