Great Glen Way

The Great Glen Way travels from Fort William, the largest town in the West Highlands, to Inverness, capital of the Highlands.  It is a way marked walk of around 75 miles.   The route follows the natural fault of the Great Glen which divides Scotland in half.  Most of the route is at low level alongside the water and is a good first walk for those new to long distance walking in the Highlands.  There are also higher sections between Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit which have dramatic views and steep climbs. The Great Glen Way  runs alongside Loch Linnhe, Loch Oich and through the forests above Loch Ness. There is a section along the towpath of the Caledonian Canal which links these lochs to make a navigable sea route from the West Coast of Scotland to the Moray Firth.

Caledonian Canal on the Great Glen Way
Caledonian Canal on the Great Glen Way

The Great Glen Way is often walked in 4 or 5 days by those undertaking an average distance of 13 miles a day.  However it  can be completed in 3 days if a mileage of around 20 miles a day is undertaken on two days.  There are Independent Hostels in Fort William, Loch Ness and Inverness  and along the Great Glen Way that cater specifically for long distance walkers and mountain bikers on the trail.

Most people walking the Great Glen Way start in Fort William, which has the train station on the West Highland Line and plenty of coach and bus links.    There is a choice of great Independent Hostels in Fort William all an easy walk from the town centre.   BANK STREET LODGE and FORT WILLIAM BACKPACKERS  offer good value accommodation in the town centre.

The first day’s walk from Fort William to Laggan Locks is 23 miles on flat loch side terrain.   This day can be split in half with a night at Gairlochy if required. GREAT GLEN HOSTEL at Laggan is just a few minutes’ walk off the Great Glen Way and provides good value accommodation and meals ideal for walkers of the Great Glen Way.

Great Glen Hostel at Laggan on the Great Glen Way
Great Glen Hostel at Laggan on the Great Glen Way

The second day’s walk (or third day if an overnight was taken at Gairlochy) is  from Laggan to Fort Augustus.  This is a beautiful walk, in places the path is sandwiched between the  Caledonian Canal and the side of Loch Oich covered with  natural woodlands. This is a shorter day’s walk totalling around 11 miles.   MORAGS LODGE LOCH NESS at Fort Augustus provides great facilities,  meals, a bar  and an efficient welcome for walkers on the Great Glen Way.

Morags Lodge at Fort Augusts on the Great Glen Way
Morags Lodge at Fort Augusts on the Great Glen Way

The third (or fouth) day’s walk from Fort Augutstus to Dumnadrockit is 22 miles.   This involves some steep climbs up foreststry tracks and specualalr views as you climb the paths up the loch side   Again this walk can be split into two parts witha  night at Invermoriston.   LOCH NESS BACKPACKERS LODGE  provides a welcoming nights rest in the village for Drumnadrockt.

Loch Ness Backpackers at Drumnadrochit on the Great Glen Way
Loch Ness Backpackers at Drumnadrochit on the Great Glen Way

The last day’s walk from Drumnadrochit to Inverness is  18 miles of easy walking through farmland and forestry.  There are some nice views over Loch Ness to the  mountains to the north.  There is hostel accommodation available at INVERNESS STUDENT HOTEL and good public transport links including  a train station to find your way home.

Inverness Student Hostel at Inverness, the end of the Great Glen Way
Inverness Student Hostel at Inverness, the end of the Great Glen Way
You can see a map showing all the hostels and bunkhouses around the Great Glen Way.  Owen Peters, one of our travel writers, has walked the Great Glen Way in reverse, starting at Inveness and finishing at Fort William.   He did the route in 3.5 days.  The tale of his adventures has been published on this blog  in the four installments shown on the links below.

Inverness to Drumnadrochit –  ‘Pigs and non believers‘.

Drumnadrochit to Fort Augustus – ‘Yep, that;s steep‘.

Fort Augustus to Laggan – ‘Or so it should have been‘.  

Finishing at Fort William -‘ Walking in Reverse