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The Great Glen is the result of a tectonic collision that raised the Scottish Highlands and created a giant crack across the entire country from coast to coast. The Great Glen Way is the trail travels the entire length of the Great Glen stretching for 117.5km (73 miles).
Starting at Fort William the route passes Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, Loch Ness and follows much of the Caledonian Canal, before finishing in Inverness.
Surrounded by some of the UK’s highest mountains the route offers some incredible vantage points, as well as majestic woodland, other unique wilderness and throws in some Highland heritage and history for good measure.
The Great Glen Way kicks off in unspectacular fashion, starting at the roundabout at the end of Fort William High Street. However, things thankfully pick up from here.
The route goes through suburban paths sitting in the shadow of the awe-inspiring Ben Nevis and continues along the Caledonian Canal for a mostly flat walk that offers fantastic views of the surrounding mountains as well as passing several interesting landmarks such as the ruins of Inverlochy Castle, Loch Linnhe, and Neptunes Staircase.
View the starting point from Fort William here.
The majority of the route on day 2 passes alongside the great expanse of Loch Lochy. Leaving Gairlochy the trail meanders alongside the Loch in stunning woodland surroundings close to the water’s edge.
After a short stretch of road walking it passes the entrance of Achnacarry, the ancestral home (and now museum) of Clan Cameron, until it crosses a bridge over the River Arkaig and reaches a forestry car park. From here there is the option to go 2km (each way) to see Eas Chia-aig a small but picturesque waterfall, and a very worthwhile detour.
The route continues through more lush woodland where, if you’re very lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the Pine Martens who inhabit the area. Finally reaching the head of Loch Lochy and passing in the shadow of two munros (Meall na Teanga and Sron a’ Choire Ghairbh) as it leads into Laggan.
View the starting pointing in Gairlochy here.
The trail on day 3 includes two stretches along the Caledonian Canal which sandwich a trail through the wild (and magnificent) woodland on the banks of Loch Oich, and finally arrives at Fort Augustus – a picturesque village on the banks of Loch Ness with shops, facilities and plenty of accommodation options.
The day is full of stunning nature and scenery and offers up plenty of highlights such as the impressive Loch Lochy Munros, lovely vantage points down the Caledonian Canal, the Letterfeirn Nature Reserve, and views of Invergarry Castle ruins.
During day 3 we also recommend you visit The Eagle Barge Inn, a floating pub on a Dutch barge for some delicious nourishment, and taking a small detour after Loch Oich to go see Oich Bridge, a beautiful old bridge which is maintained by Historic Scotland.
View the starting pointing in Laggan here.
Day 4 is a short day but offers plenty. There are two options – the low route and the high route. We recommend the high route as it provides amazing scenery and since it’s a short day there’s plenty of rest time.
The route begins in forest trails and leads up to open moorland beyond the tree line and high above Loch Ness with some stunning views over the giant body of water, as well as of Fort Augustus and the Caledonian Canal back down the Great Glen.
Along the way there are also views of Cherry Island, a small island with a few spruce trees which is in fact a crannog – a man made fortified dwelling dating back 2,500 years.
Finally the trails descends quite steeply to Invermoriston – which has a hotel, shops, toilets and B&B accommodation.
View the starting pointing in Fort Augustus here.
Day 5 also offers the option of a high and low route. We recommend the high route again, purely for the stunning vantage points it offers.
There are some steep climbs and paths through stunning woodland, including the forested Glen of the Allt Saigh, and it leads around the south flank of Creag Dhearg before heading down to meet up with the low route once again.
Finally the trail crosses moorland (which can be a great place to spot birds of prey) before a steep descent down to Drumnadrochit.
View the starting pointing in Invermoristion here.
Day 6 of the Great Glen Way is fairly easy walking through a mix of farmland and forestry. However, it does offer some great views over Loch Ness and the Cairngorms.
Leaving Drumnadrochit the trail leads alongside the shore of Loch Ness with some good views of Urquhart Castle and leads up to the highest point of the Great Glen Way which is marked by a post.
When the trail comes to a signpost for Abriachan Forest walkers have the choice to make a scenic detour to pass a reconstructed iron age fort which is worth the extra 0.5km.
Finally the trail heads down to Inverness, past Great Glen House (HQ of Scottish National Heritage), crosses the lovely Ness Islands and the route leads on the centre of Inverness and Inverness Castle on the banks of the River Ness which is the official end of the Great Glen Way.
View the starting pointing in Drumnadrochit here.
We’ve gone and made it easy for you and with a free downloadable multi-day hiking packing checklist. To get it, chuck your email address into the form below.
Plan your route properly so you know where you’ll be stopping each night. Book well in advance, especially for high season, as beds get booked up fast. You can book lodgings using the websites below:
Wild camping is permitted in Scotland, including along much of the Great Glen Way route.
Always be sure that you’re not camping on private property. Get permission from the landowner first.
Also, please always stick to the leave no trace policy to ensure nature is preserved. See Outdoor Access Scotland for more details.
If you want to ease the strain on your back and body you can utilise one of the baggage transfer services. The way it works is someone will drive your extra gear to pre-arranged stop off points every day. Leaving you with a small backpack to carry everything you need for that day.
Trust us, walking without a big pack full of plenty of kgs makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. Plus it’s very affordable. Below are all the services you can use:
There’s plenty of transport options going to and from Milngavie and various other points on the route. So whether you’re doing the walk from the start or from one the later points you shouldn’t have too many problems getting to that location.
73 miles taking you from Fort William cutting right through the heart of Scotland up to Inverness.
Passing iconic and beautiful Scottish landscapes and landmarks such as Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. Ending in Inverness, you’ll pass nearby Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the United Kingdom.
This remarkable trail offers everything from stunning glens, lochs, and forests to mountain top views.
Obviously the weather will be different depending on what time of year you do the walk. However, since it’s Scotland, it’s safe to assume it will rain at some point so definitely bring your waterproofs.
Between April to October you’ll likely fin a mix of sunny, overcast, rainy and windy days. Sometimes all of that in one day. It can get quite windy in Scotland so be prepared for that, especially on more exposed parts of the walk.
Be prepared: The weather in Scotland can change really quickly. That’s all part of the challenge and fun though.
There are plenty of amazing and interesting creatures that you might happen to come across in the Scottish Highlands. Some much harder to find than others:
Special mentions for a couple of little blighters here: Midges and Ticks.
Midges are a tiny flying insects that typically form swarms near water or marshy areas. They are plentiful from late spring to late summer and can be a bit of a nuisance. If you do the hike during that time you will very likely meet them. Wear full coverage clothing and use insect spray to repel them.
Ticks are little bugs that feed on human and animal blood. When you’re hiking through foliage they will try and latch on to you. They’re bites are usually harmless but left untreated can cause Lyme’s disease. Always check yourself for them at some point during the day.