Ralston Cairn – Glencoe, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Ralston Cairn

Nestled atop a wind-swept crag in the Scottish Highlands is a lonely memorial to a beloved hiker. 


Wander far enough off the beaten path in the highlands of Glencoe, Scotland, and you’ll find myriad mysteries and wonders: stone steps leading to crumbling ruins, mysterious vaults, shallow caves, and cairns.

One such cairn, resting atop an unremarkable crag overlooking the A82, stands out as much for its picturesque view of the valley below as it does for representing the devotion and love of the friends and family who erected this memorial in honor of its namesake, Ralston Claud Muir.

Muir was a local train driver and avid hiker of the glens, his favorite among them being Glencoe. He became ill on Christmas Day, 1999, and died 16 days later of multiple organ failure caused by a rare form of leukemia of which he was unaware he had. He was 32.

A cairn was built in his memory; a place where his friends and family could share a drink, reminisce, and take in the view that had enchanted their loved one in life. Nestled within the stones is a plaque bearing the words, “These are my mountains, and I have come home.” If you visit the cairn, be sure to bring a dram of whisky to drink a toast in Muir’s honor.

Know Before You Go

To find Ralston Cairn, take the A82 toward Glencoe and park in the lot near The Meeting of Three Waters. Hike northeast up into the hills on the east side of the highway. You may have to wander a bit to find it, halfway up the cliff side, but that's likely the way Muir would have wanted. Look for the strange, locked vault with the rusted steel door built into the hillside a little further up the cliff from the cairn.

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June 27, 2019

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