Great Glen Way
The Great Glen Way National Trail follows the route of the Caledonian Canal which links the large lochs along the Great Glen to form a navigable passage between Fort William on the west coast and Inverness on the east coast.
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Moderate
- Tracing the course of the Caledonian Canal through spectacular forests.
- Discovering the spectacular castles on route, including Urquhart Castle and Ardverikie Castle.
- The sense of achievement as you complete your walk in the capital of the highlands, Inverness.
- The Great Glen Way cuts diagonally across the Highlands of Scotland from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea through some of the finest scenery in Scotland.
The Great Glen Way National Trail follows the route of the Caledonian Canal which links the large lochs along the Great Glen to form a navigable passage between Fort William on the west coast and Inverness on the east coast. On its way it passes the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain; follows tree-lined towpaths of the Caledonian Canal; goes along the shores of beautiful Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness beneath towering heather-clad hills; crosses open moorland with glorious views across the Glen, and passes castles and forts that have witnessed some of the most bloody scenes of Scotland’s turbulent history.
- 7 nights accommodation in ensuite rooms with private bathrooms (where available) in selected guesthouses, inns, hotels and B&Bs
- Breakfast each day
- Door to door luggage transfer
- Maps with the route marked on and a guidebook describing the trail
- A detailed itinerary providing detailed instructions on how to find your accommodation, town plans, information about facilities and places of interest along the trail and a packing list
- Detailed travel instructions on how to get to the start of the holiday and back from the end of it
- Emergency assistance
Total distance: 73 miles (117km)
Duration: 8 days/7 nights, 6 days walking
Minimum/maximum daily distances: 8 miles (13km)/18 miles (29km)
Waymarking: The Great Glen Way is clearly marked and is very easy to follow.
Season: Start on any Saturday from March 23 to October 5 (other days of the week on request)
Tour Starts: Ft William.
Tour Ends: Inverness.
Nearest Available Airport: Glasgow airport.
Arrive in Fort William
Travel to Fort William where your first nights accommodation has been booked.
Fort William to Gairlochy. 10.5 miles (17km).
The route begins at the at Old Fort in Fort William in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. From here it skirts the shores of Loch Linnhe to join the historic Caledonian Canal at Corpach. From Corpach, the journey along Scotland’s longest Glen and greatest geological fault begins. The canal towpath is followed to Gairlochy, passing several interesting canal features such as Neptune’s Staircase and the awesome aqueducts.
Gairlochy to South Laggan. 12 miles (19km).
Today’s route, mainly on forest tracks, hugs the peaceful western shores of Loch Lochy. There are splendid views as you pass below towering mountains, two of which are ’Munros’. The Canal comes back into sight and you rejoin the towpath at Laggan Locks, where you are close to the site of the Clan Battle of the Shirts in 1544. From here the route leads you into Laggan Avenue, a lovely canalside path through a fine variety of tall trees established by Thomas Telford.
South Laggan to Fort Augustus. 10.5 miles (17km)
Today takes you to find the secluded eastern shores of Loch Oich. Following first the old railway line, abandoned in 1946, and then a section of General Wade’s Military Road, you follow the tranquil shores of the loch through beautiful mixed woodland where wildlife abounds. Coming to the Aberchalder swing bridge where you once again join the canal towpath for a scenic walk to Fort Augustus passing the delightful Kytra and Cullochy Locks. In historic Fort Augustus you may catch sight of the grand and imposing Abbey, which until recently housed Benedictine monks.
Fort Augustus to Invermoriston. 8 miles (13km).
From Fort Augustus you start the first real climb, but the reward is a series of breathtaking views back over the village and across Loch Ness as you follow high forest tracks to Invermoriston. As you come into the tiny village and cross the mighty river Moriston, have a look at the splendid old bridge – another Telford design.
Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit. 14 miles (22km)
Another steep climb and yet more dramatic views are in store as you leave the village and continue mainly along forest tracks to emerge at the crofting community of Grotaig. A quiet minor road is followed through crofting land, high above Loch Ness, until you turn off and descend through woodland to the River Coiltie and on to Drumnadrochit.
Drumnadrochit to Inverness. 18 miles (29km)
Leaving the roadside, your route today climbs steadily through farmland offering unforgettable views back over Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle before entering the woodland and winding its way up, with occasional glimpses of the Loch and far away the east coast of Scotland comes in to sight. Here the route enters the Craig Leach forest, emerging at the reservoir where you get a dramatic view of your destination, Inverness, with the Moray Firth stretching out behind it. Winding downhill, you pass close to Leachkin chambered cairn, and approach the city.
Pleasant canal side and riverside paths lead you through the city to Inverness Castle in the heart of the Highland capital.
Depart Inverness after breakfast.
Maybe spend an extra night in Inverness, the heart of the Higland capital.
7 nights accommodation in en-suite rooms with private bathrooms (where available) in selected guesthouses, inns and hotels and B&B’s.
Singles: Add $62 per night for a single room; solo traveler add $72 per night
Extra rest days: Can be added at any of the overnight stops. Add $114 per person per night, based on 2 people sharing a double room.
- An extra night gives you a chance to explore some of the villages and old market towns along the trail, catch up with writing postcards or just relaxing and giving those weary legs a rest.
- Many folks have an extra night in Fort William before starting the trail to visit Glen Coe or Glen Nevis or climb Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain.
- Fort Augustus is a pleasant little village. Both the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre and the Clansmen’s Centre are worth visiting.
- If you prefer somewhere peaceful consider Invermoriston. It is an attractive little village and there are some lovely walks nearby along woodland trails to waterfalls.
- If you want to spend time looking for the Loch Ness Monster then Drumnadrochit is a good choice.
- There is a lot to see and do in Inverness. The castle, cathedral, the Inverness Museum and Balnain House, with its fascinating exhibition of Highland music are all worth a visit. Culloden Battlefield, which also has an informative visitor center is a short bus journey from the town.
Arrival to Fort William.
Most convenient major city and International airport: Glasgow Airport. Train to Glasgow Central, then a short walk (10 minutes) or bus to Glasgow Queen Street for trains to Fort William (3 hours 50 minutes).
Outward journey from London to Fort William: Train from London Euston to Glasgow Central (5½ hours), then a short walk (10 minutes) or bus to Glasgow Queen Street for trains to Fort William (3 hours 50 minutes).
Return journey to Glasgow airport at the end of the holiday: Train to Glasgow Queen Street (3 hours 40 minutes), then train to Glasgow Airport.
Return journey to London at the end of the holiday: Train to Glasgow Queen Street (3 hours 40 minutes). Walk or bus to Glasgow Central for trains to London Euston or Kings Cross (5 hours).