The Great Glen is an amazing geographical fault line that splits Scotland in two, forming dramatic lochs and glens and one of the most famous bodies of water in the world; Loch Ness. Biking along the banks of loch after loch, travelling from coast to coast is an amazing experience that immerses you in the iconic scenery of the Great Glen. From relaxing canal-side riding to flying down neat single track, the Great Glen Cycleway is a beautiful, challenging way to spend a couple of days.
Your trip begins in the shadow of Ben Nevis, at Fort William. From there you ease into the journey by following the Caledonian Canal, passing the man-made phenomenon of Neptune’s Staircase. You will soon be cycling on single track and fire road alongside the first of a series of lochs, Loch Lochy then Loch Oich. Reach Fort Augustus, the gateway to Loch Ness which dominates the rest of your trip. With challenging climbs to reveal magnificent views and stunning, high speed downhills, the trip really does have a little bit of everything. Stay at hand-picked B&B’s, guesthouses and small country hotels, and enjoy the convenience of daily baggage transfer on this wonderful mountain biking holiday in Scotland.
Day 1 - Arrive Starting Point - Fort William
Fort William is the outdoor capital of Scotland and sits in the shadow of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. It is a vibrant town, bursting with life and will cater for any cycling or outdoors equipment that you may need before you head off on your trip.
Day 2 - Fort William to Invergarry - 26 miles
The first section of your trip is mostly easy, following the traffic-free towpath alongside the Caledonian Canal. Cycling beside the water will present you with a close view of Neptune’s Staircase, the longest series of canal locks in the UK.
Stay on the towpath until you reach the little village of Gairlochy where you continue on single track. You then turn inland and climb up above the loch on fire road through amazing, ancient forest up to Laggan before you skirt the main road on your way to Invergarry for the night.
Day 3 - Invergarry to Drumnadrochit - 30 miles
The morning begins by tackling your first really steep hill on a climb up behind Invergarry. Once at the top a lovely stretch of single track through the forest eventually brings you down to Aberchalder. You are back on the smooth canal towpath until Fort Augustus, giving your legs a wee break. There is a short stretch of cycling on the busy A82 before you are on hilly forest trails. After glimpsing Loch Ness through the trees there's a thrilling descent into Invermoriston. A more challenging forest path undulates for the next 15 miles, but it is worth it for the view from the top and the inevitable decent.
Your hard day's cycle finishes in Drumnadrochit, home to two Loch Ness Monster displays as well as a host of pubs and restaurants.
Day 4 - Drumnadrochit to Inverness—24 miles
Today provides a different take on the Great Glen as you climb sharply out of Drumnadrochit and away from the lochs that you have so faithfully followed. Today you will be cycling through more remote scenery. Most of the cycling today is on minor roads as you ride deeper into the hills and fields that surround the Great Glen.
You cycle down past the charming Loch Laide before heading past the Caiplich Prehistoric Settlement, which is worth checking out even if only for the view. Then you are back amongst the hills before a long decent into the capital of the Highlands, Inverness.
Day 5 - Onward Travel
Inverness is incredibly well-placed for onward travel. There are rail and bus links to all major towns and cities in Scotland and air links to airports throughout the UK.
One of the highlights of this tour is the high standard of the accommodation. You will stay in carefully selected 3 or 4 star B&B’s, guesthouses, country pubs and small hotels. A delicious breakfast is always included. You can see a list of some of the accommodations that we use for the trip by scrolling down the page.
If you require single rooms within your party we will always try and accommodate you subject to availability. A single supplement is payable.
A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included. Most of your accommodation will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or at nearby pubs or restaurants.
Guisachan House - Fort William
A warm welcome awaits you at Guisachan House, a family run private hotel offering bed and breakfast in Fort William.
Berkeley House - Fort William
Berkeley House was constructed in the late 1800's. Following a total refurbishment in 1998, this traditional Scottish Guest House has kept much of the original characteristics, whilst adding many modern facilities.
Glen Albyn Lodge - Laggan
Glen Albyn Lodge is traditional on the outside and modern and eco-friendly on the inside. Dennis and Helen provide legendary hospitality and home cooking at their highly rated B&B.
Kilmore Farmhouse - Drumnadrochit
Situated in the village of Drumnadrochit on the shores of Loch Ness, this peaceful haven gives you all the relaxation you need on your hiking holiday. With five individually designed bedrooms and one of the best locations in the highlands, you are sure to enjoy your stay.
Acorn House - Inverness
The ambiance throughout Acorn House is one of comfort and relaxation - from the moment you walk through the entrance you will discover a warmth and friendliness unrivaled in Inverness.
This trip is available to start on any day, from April through to October.
Please note that at the moment Scottish Water and Scottish Canals are carrying out essential works and some sections of the trail around Fort Augustus are affected. We expect the works to be finished without affecting the season however we currently recommend getting in touch with our Destination Specialists at the office before making a booking online if you plan to travel this spring.
Grade & Terrain
The route is on canal path, singletrack, forestry road and minor road. It does involve some steep ascents and descents and is graded moderate to strenuous due to the tough climbs involved.
Navigation, Route Notes & Maps
The Great Glen Cycleway is very well waymarked, with pale blue posts marked with a thistle guiding your way. You'll receive maps and a guidebook to ensure you find your way easily.
Daily door to door baggage transfer is included in the cost of your holiday. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 18kg per person.
Gents, ladies, unisex
15, 17, 19, 21 in
Luggage rack Rear/Front
Handle bar Bag/ map holder
Bottle holder/Water bottle
Front gear set
Back gear set
Puncture repair kit
Spare inner tubes/ how many
Great Glen Way - Undiscovered Scotland
Great Glen Way official page
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
Getting to Fort William
Fort William is easily accessed from Glasgow. There are several daily trains that run which you can check on the Scotrail website. Alternatively there are several buses that you can book on the Citylink website.
Should you wish to drive, there are a couple of B&B’s that will allow you to leave your car with them while you cycle to Inverness.
From Glasgow there are frequent departures from either Queen Street Rail Station or Buchanan Bus Station. You can find further details for this section of the journey by going to City Link for buses or Scotrail for trains.
Getting from Inverness
Again Inverness is well serviced by Scotrail and Citylink and both can be booked via their websites. Inverness also hosts an international airport with flights to many places in the UK.
If you are returning to Fort William to collect your car this is easily done by travelling on a Citylink bus which takes around 2 hours.
- 4 nights B&B in 3* or 4* guesthouses and small hotels.
- Door to door baggage transfer.
- A detailed information pack, route notes and map.
- Emergency telephone support from our office in the event of a problem.
- Travel to or from the Great Glen Cycleway.
- Lunches, dinners, snacks or drinks.
- Travel insurance.
- Personal equipment.
- Bike hire.
- Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage.
- Additional nights
- Mountain bike hire
We are often asked the following questions, and I hope that you will find the answers useful. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more advice from our clients and team.
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the Great Glen is extremely popular and most departures fill up several months before departure. You will find up to date availability on our website, and please give us a shout if you have a query.
How fit do I need to be?
The Great Glen Cycleway is a fairly tough trip because you are riding continuously day after day, but it is far from an endurance marathon. The itinerary is designed to be enjoyable for a regular rider. If you currently don’t enjoy that level of fitness, then regular mountain biking supplemented by cardiovascular exercise for at least six months before your trip is recommended. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.
How do the baggage transfers work?
Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved on to your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 18kg per person.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need a good quality mountain bike and your normal mountain biking gear for a day ride with perhaps some extra warm layers if the weather is cold. You can download a full equipment list from our website downloads page.
What type of mountain bike is suitable?
Bikes of a certain price range are usually a good way to tell if your bike is going to last the pace. Anything from around £600 and up would generally do, but front suspension and hydraulic brakes are other good indicators. You will get away with a slightly less expensive bike as long as you have front suspension and it is well maintained. More expensive full suspension XC bikes are also perfect, but you should avoid downhill or "all mountain" bikes which tend to be a bit heavy and have too much travel.
How do we get to and from the trail?
Fort William is the gateway to the Highlands and is serviced by local train and bus services! With these services, you can connect easily to the start of the Great Glen Way trail with direct trains running from Glasgow city centre to Fort William (approx.. 4 hours). Getting back from Inverness is also easy and there are again train and bus services onwards to Glasgow and Edinburgh city centres. Please check our local journey planner Traveline Scotland for more information.
When is the best time of year?
The summer months are best as the weather tend to be better and the daylight hours are longer.
What are the midges like?
Midges are small biting insects (much like North American gnats) which are prevalent in the summer months. They are particularly bad on still, overcast days but do not bother you if you are moving, the wind is blowing, the sun is shining, it’s raining, or you are inside. As long as you carry repellent for the odd occasion you may need it they shouldn’t have any impact on your experience.
What happens if I can't cycle a stage?
You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.