The Great Glen Way

tours / Other

The Great Glen Way information and booking

  • Duration
    8 days
  • Group size
  • Difficulty
    introductory - moderate
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Schedule Details

  • 7 nights hotel/guesthouse


  • Walking in the Heart of Scotland
  • Hiking Through the Scottish Highlands
  • Canal and Loch-Side Footpaths
  • Views of Ben Nevis

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

Three hundred and eighty million years ago, northwest Scotland was joined to parts of Greenland and Northern Norway. Plate tectonics has changed all that and in the process the Great Glen Fault was created. Powerful glaciers up until about 8000 years ago scoured the line of the fault, leaving a line splitting the highlands and leading to open water at either end (Loch Linnhe in the south west and the Moray Firth in the north east). Central to this is Loch Ness, 23 miles long and the second deepest Loch in Scotland –depths of up to 750 feet. During the late 1700s, ideas were floated about building a canal to run through the fault, following Lochs Lochy, Oich and Ness, after all, they would only have to create 22 miles of man made canal as nature had already done most of the work. It began finally in 1803 by two brilliant engineers: William Jessop and Thomas Telford and was opened in 1822. It is the earliest example of nationalized transport in Britain, because the government wanted to create jobs in the Highlands after all the Jacobite wars – perhaps they thought it would keep their minds off politics! Along the canal you will find plenty of examples of elegant bridges and locks which reflect the early period of the Industrial Revolution. The Great Glen Way basically follows the fault line, stretching for 73 miles and was opened on 30th April 2002 by HRH Prince Andrew. The tour starts at Fort William, near the foot of Ben Nevis (Britain's highest peak, which can be readily ascended if you choose to spend an extra day), follows the shores of the famous Loch Ness, and finishes at Inverness, Scotland’s north-most city and the “capital of the highlands”. Most of the walking is straightforward, along canal towpaths and forest tracks, but there are some more challenging sections on the last couple of days.

What's included

  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 nights accommodation in small guesthouses on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available
  • One piece of luggage per person transferred from inn to inn
  • Information pack including route notes & maps
  • Emergency hotline
  • Taxi transfer on day 7 to loch laide


Day 1 Arrival in Fort William
There are only traces left of the original fort built to keep the dreaded Highlanders at bay. Today the town is the “Chamonix” of Scotland with a proliferation of outdoor shops, cafes, bookshops and bars to entertain you if you get in early enough. If you have an extra night here and you are an experienced hill walker, you could go and climb Ben Nevis, or you could take a boat trip to “Seal Island” to see the grey seals loitering around. Accommodation: We use a selection of bed & breakfast/guesthouses in Fort William all offering ensuite facilities. This town can and does get busy hence the reason for a need to use different accommodation. There are plenty of places to eat in Fort William.
Day 2 Fort William to Gairlochy 10.5 miles/17km
Today’s walk is very easy and is only 10.5 miles/17km, which will give you the opportunity to do several side trips. The first one being Old Inverlochy Castle, which is one of Scotland’s earliest stone castles, built in 1260. Continue on with your walk before taking a short diversion to Corpach sea loch, with its lock-keepers’ cottages and pepper-pot lighthouse. You then head up to the tow path of the Caledonian Canal following it past “Neptune’s staircase” (a flight of 8 locks) to the small village of Gairlochy 10.5 miles/17 km. It is likely that you will be staying at Spean Bridge, which is another 3.5 miles hilly walk. If this is the case, normally the guesthouse will be able to collect and transfer you if you don’t want to walk, if you give them some notice of your arrival. Accommodation: We stay overnight in a 4* family run guesthouse, set in its own spacious grounds, and located on the outskirts of the picturesque Highland village of Spean Bridge.
Day 3 Gairlochy to South Laggan 11 miles/17.5km
A mainly easy walk today, but it does have some short steep ascents. You will be walking on a mixture of tarmac, forest paths and tracks, mostly shared with the Great Glen Cycle Route. Two miles after the start of your walk, you could take a side trip to Clan Cameron Museum and Cia-aig waterfall before rejoining the Way at Clunes (an extra mile/1.6km or so) but note that the museum is only open in the afternoons. From Clunes all the way to Kilfinnan, you walk on forest tracks, you will get splendid views of Loch Lochy with the mountains behind. Accommodation: Our 3* guesthouse tonight offers all home comforts and is surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
Day 4 South Laggan to Fort Augustus 12.5 miles/20km
An easy walk today. The terrain is a mixture of tarmac, railway track bed, old military road, then a canal towpath. You enter the Leiterfearn nature reserve, enjoying the wonderful ash, birch, elm and hazel woodland. If you have time you could walk up Meall a’Cholumain from Fort Augustus, which is a great viewpoint. Fort Augustus was largely built in 1729 as the hub of General Wade’s military road building programme to calm the highlanders after Culloden and there are 5 locks at the center of town on the Caledonian Canal and several museums. There are some great restaurants here and you might get in with enough time for a short cruise on Loch Ness. Accommodation: Tonight our guesthouse will be one of the many Victorian establishments in the attractive small town of Fort Augustus.
Day 5 Fort Augustus to Invermoriston 8 miles/13km
A harder day today with steeper ascents. You will climb through a forest of birch and pine, beside a stream and uphill to a forest track. You should get some dramatic views of Loch Ness at intervals through the woods. Walk through the village of Invermoriston with its little bridge built by Thomas Telford. The Invermoriston Hotel is a great place to eat and has several species of malt whisky. They also have great beer from The Skye Brewery. There are nice leafy walks down by the river. Accommodation: Our guesthouse was purpose built in 1995 to provide a family home and bed & breakfast accommodation. Each bedroom is well furnished and has a spacious ensuite bathroom or shower room with toilet and wash hand basin. You can relax in the evening in a large lounge with open fire and TV. The breakfast room enjoys great views of Sron Na Muic.
Day 6 Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit 14 miles/22km
A moderate day of walking today with some steep sections. There is quite a bit of undulation today, but hopefully you’ll be used to the walking now! For strong walkers in good weather you could ascend Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh from where you may get views from Ben Nevis all the way to Inverness. You can take excursions to Urquhart Castle approx (£8.00 entry) with commanding views over Lochness, café and an interpretational centre. You end up at Drumnadrochit, an attractive ‘Green Village’, which has a Loch Ness Monster visitor’s center…or two! Accommodation: We use a mixture of B&B's in the busy town of Drumnadrochit.
Day 7 Drumnadrochit to Inverness 14 miles/21km
Today would normally be a long day: 18 mile/29km, which maybe too much, especially if you want to see something of Inverness. So the tour is shortened by an optional taxi transfer taking you from the town to near to Loch Laide, famous for its very clean water. Descend then to Blackford and the Great Glen once again meeting the Caledonian Canal before reaching Inverness, a beautiful city of past and modern, although mostly Victorian. If the taxi option is taken then this is a 14 mile walk. Accommodation: We use a number of different guesthouses in this busy city of Inverness.
Day 8 End of tour
After breakfast depart from Inverness. Or why not spend a day here visiting the Neo Gothic St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the Castle, the museum and art galleries at this Scotland’s Northern Capital. We would recommend that you visit Fort George, the Clava Stones and the newly rebuilt Culloden center, which are all nearby, and with the exception of the Clava Stones, on local bus routes.