Beautiful scenery and great accommodation. Thank you Scotland and thank you Macs for making this a thoroughly enjoyable walking holiday.
The East Highland Way traverses the dramatic landscapes of the Highlands of Scotland. On this epic trip you have the chance to absorb the rich history and wildlife of an area less travelled. From Pictish Forts, through the Highland Clearances to World War II memorials there is a real sense of intimacy with the history of the area as you walk this tranquil trail.
Starting in the Outdoor Capital of the Highlands, Fort William you start your walk in the shadow of Ben Nevis until reaching Spean Bridge for your first night. From there you delve deep into the Highlands. Dappled light though broadleaf forests, crystal clear Highland lochs and the powerful scent of the Caledonian Pine forest will guide you through to Aviemore. Once there you can relax in this charming town with a great sense of accomplishment and tranquillity.
The East Highland Way features hand-picked overnight accommodation in high quality B&B’s, country inns, and guesthouses at each overnight stop. Each is unique and offers the highest levels of welcome, atmosphere and outstanding local cuisine. We also include daily door to door baggage transfers, a guide book and pre-departure information pack as well as emergency support, should you need it.
A relatively flat, easy start to the walk means that you have a little time to explore Fort William before heading off to Spean Bridge. You will find the paths well made and solid on this first day.
Starting off on the same forest paths you will soon get into the walking, following the River Spean. A great quiet day of forest walking will eventually lead you to Inverlair where we have arranged for you to be collected and taken back to Spean Bridge for your overnight stop.
You will be dropped back off at Inverlair this morning to begin the longest days walking. Though the distance is long, the walking is pretty easy after a bit of uphill walking in the morning. You will skirt the edge of Loch Moy before walking along the banks of the stunning Loch Laggan. Ending up in Feagour, we have again arranged for you to be collected and transferred to your overnight accommodation in nearby Laggan.
After your transfer back down to Feagor, you start the walking day with an ascent up to the Pictish Fort of Dun da lamh. The amazing views here provide a stunning start to the day. From there the walk levels off until Cluny Castle when it starts to ascend again. Another great feeling of wilderness today as you walk along the banks of the River Calder before descending into the town of Newtonmore for the night.
Level walking for most of today makes for a lovely walk. You will take in the Ruthven Barracks and cross over the powerful River Tromie today as well as spending a bit of time in the RSPB reserve on the Insh Marshes. Joining up with the shorter Badenoch Way will eventually lead you back down to Kincraig for your penultimate evening.
The final section of the East Highland Way is one of the most spectacular. You start off by walking up to the Frank Bruce Sculpture Park which is well worth spending some time at. From there you climb up through the Cairngorm National park through ancient bog forest. Your decent towards Aviemore is broken by the eerie beauty of the Castle of Loch an Eilein, where you should try shouting to the ghost of the Wolf of Badenoch who still haunts the ruin. Listen carefully for the strange echo that comes back. Aviemore is a delightful wee town to finish in and toast a wonderful trip.
One of the highlights of this walking holiday is the high standard of the accommodation you will enjoy. The hotels, inns, guesthouses and B&B’s we use are hand-picked to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. All offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We do recommend that you book this trip early as the area is always popular and the hotels and inns do fill up early, especially in high season. You will find descriptions, photos and weblinks to a selection of the accommodation below.
This independent walking holiday is not available to solo walker, however should you require single rooms within your party we will of course try to accommodate your request subject to availability.There is a single supplement payable to cover the additional costs we incur.
Breakfast is included each morning while lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Your accommodation will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival, alternatively your guidebook also includes details of local shops and convenient lunch and water stops on the way. There are some quite remote sections so it is advisable to bring and refill a large water bottle before setting off each day. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants and your info pack will of course have recommendations.
The western highlands are so spectacular that many of our clients decide to take an extra night along the way to spend some time enjoying the area. You might like to consider adding extra nights in Fort William to climb Ben Nevis, Newtonmore for the amazing Highland Folk Museum or Aviemore for the abundance of post trip activities.
Guisachan House sits above Fort William overlooking Loch Linnhe and the surrounding hills. Close to the centre of town, Matthew and Edith will make sure that your last night on the West Highland Way is a comfortable and relaxing one.
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.
Peter & Lesley McIntosh welcome you to their Highland Guest House in the village of Spean Bridge. Distant Hills has a peaceful setting amidst some of the most spectacular scenery in the Highlands of Scotland with uninterrupted mountain views.
The Rumblie experience is about good food and service in a relaxed highland home. Their focus is on good locally produced produce and on many occasions this would be Rumblie grown.
This privately owned, luxury five star Guest House in the heart of the Highlands is a hidden treasure. Approached by a winding driveway flanked by mature trees, you will feel you are leaving the real world behind.
A grand Victorian house on the banks of the River Spey in a peaceful location with views across the River Spey to the Cairngorm mountains. All rooms are furnished to a high standard and have great views of the mountains. They have a lovely guest lounge where you can relax in the evening with a wee dram by the roaring log fire.
Beautifully decorated throughout and offering a warm welcome with Highland hospitality, Ravenscraig provides the perfect location for enjoying the wealth of outdoor pursuits in the area.
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.
The East Highland Way is graded Moderate overall, which we define as perfect for regular walkers. Some days will be more challenging than others and the terrain will be varied with some rough and rugged footpaths. There will be reasonable ascent and descent involved so a good level of fitness is required. The distances per day on the 6 walking day itinerary are between 11-20 miles (17.5-32 km). The terrain features a mix of paths, forest tracks and some minor road walking all covering undulating ground.
If it has been raining, extra care is required when crossing streams and muddy sections. This is most notable between Laggan and Newtonmore when passing through Glen Banchor.
The way is not waymarked, however
the guidebook has been written very comprehensively with detailed route
notes. Marking off the route notes as
you pass them is a good way to keep on track and should you think that you are
lost, retrace your steps back to the last landmark and continue onwards.
If you are walking the East Highland Way at the end or start of the walking season, please note there is the possibility if snow and cold weather. Please prepare by bringing some cold weather clothing.
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.
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 15kg per person.
Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers do not accept pets.
Fort William is well serviced by public transport. The train from Glasgow takes approximately 4 hours and takes in the West Highland Way and a small part of the East Highland Way. The bus from Glasgow takes approximately 3 hours.
You can book these respectively on the Scotrail or Citylink websites.
Again Aviemore is well service by public transport being on the main train and bus route from Glasgow/Edinburgh to Inverness. The bus and train take approximately 3-4 hours.
Planning a trip on the East Highland Way can be daunting, especially if this is your first long distance walking holiday. We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.
At 80 Miles the East Highland Way is a fair distance and the higher your level of fitness the more you will enjoy the experience. The trip involves between 5 and 8 hours walking daily so you should be comfortable walking on good tracks and paths over undulating terrain for at least 6 to 7 hours. If you currently don’t enjoy that level of fitness regular walking in hilly terrain supplemented by cardio vascular exercise for at least 6 months prior to your walk is recommended. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the East Highland Way is extremely popular especially over April/May and July/August. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans.
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. Our info packs have a list of all equipement to bring on your walk.
Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better and the midges have not yet appeared.
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, sun is shining, it’s raining, or you are inside so as long as you carry repellent for the odd occasion you may need it they shouldn’t have any impact on your experience.
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets and several sections of the way are closed to dogs as they are permissive paths through farm land.
You can use public transport, local taxis or our baggage van may be able to move you to the next overnight stop. Full details are included in your info pack.
Beautiful scenery and great accommodation. Thank you Scotland and thank you Macs for making this a thoroughly enjoyable walking holiday.
My daughter and I walked the East Highland Way in mid-May and enjoyed the entire trip. It was well organized and the B&B's were excellent. Excluding the towns we walked through, we probably saw about 4 - 8 people per day on the trail. We enjoyed the feeling of seclusion and having to puzzle out the occasional time when we weren't completely sure which way to go. Following the recommendations of Mac's we were well-prepared for the trip. My advice to anyone considering this would be to invest in a good quality back-pack. I did this ($129 CAD for 20 L Osprey backpack) and found it was worth every penny. Also, my knees are a bit sensitive so I tried walking poles for the first time. These also were a worthwhile investment and helped a lot on the up and down hills. Without exception, every person in Scotland that we interacted with was wonderful! The food was great and we both enjoyed the variety in terrain and the scenery.
Having lived in Scotland I was disappointed by the route. Too much was on hard tracks through forests, which limits the views. Being collected by taxis on 2 days as there isn't accommodation where it is needed, means that you are walking to an external timetable. On one of these days with the taxi collection you have to do around 20 miles . I wouldn't recommend this route if you aren't prepared to camp.
Great B&Bs no problems with luggage or lifts.
Much less traveled than the West Highland Way, the East Highland Way is the journey for peace and quiet and a real taste of the Scottish countryside and people. It's also more of an adventure, as the path, only occasionally way marked, requires one to find it to walk it!
Danbury, Connecticut USA
All our luggage arrived at accommodation before us. The guest houses were first class and I would definitely recommend them
* Great variety in the walking sections - you get to try it all: Hills, moor, forest, streams * The choice of accommodation is always fantastic - Mac's really have an eye for the B&B gems in Scotland * Organisation was excellent!
Overall, we enjoyed the stunning scenery and carefully selected accomodations during our east highland walk. It is a pity, however, that no maps were provided to accompany the guidebook, which turned out to contain several mistakes or omissions that resulted in significant detours. Also, we noted several 'east highland way' signs underway which did not concur with the guidebook's description. Later, we learned that we were provided with the first edition of the guide, whereas a second and even a third edition are now available. We regret that we were provided with an outdated guide, and consider that maps remain essential and should be provided with any non waymarked long distance walk.
Except a part in the bog, good tracks all over the Way and good information in the guide. It would be totally perfect with a few way markers like the West Highland Way.
This walk exceeded our expectations in numerous ways. Aside from the accomodation which was on the whole excellent the walk itself was a mixture of different terrains including woodland, lochside,mountainsides and glens. The route was litter free and totally unspoiled. For someone looking for a new challenge that is virtually untroden with a little bit of navigation this is the route for you. The guide provided is good however it is usful to also plan your route using conventional mapping. This was a wonderful challenging walk that should be on everybodys bucket list. Glen Banchor was stunning true wild Scotland at its best. There is also the fun factor in navigating your way across boulder strewn swollen streams. Monessie Bridge over the River Spean provided stunning views of the gorge and a wonderful picnic area on the bank. The Pictish Fort is well worth the ascent to the top for the views of three glens. Loch Laggan was a mixture of stunning scenary and lochside walking affording long views of the Cairngorm Mountains. From Laggan to Newtonmore crossing Glen Banchor we were amazed to see large herds of Deer led by a magnificent stag. From Newtonmore along the Badenoch Way was a delight with Deer, Red Squirrel, Peregrine Falcons and Ospreys. Loch Insh was difficult to leave because its beautiful sandy beach was so unexpected. Ruthven Barracks is a must to explore with all its historical implications. Overall a fantastic experience which gets a massive thumbs up. A special thank you to Macs for brilliant service as usual, Kevin the founder of this wonderful route and also to Distant Hills at Spean Bridge and The Rumblie at Laggan for being such delightful places to stay. You should also consider carrying on and extending this walk to include the Speyside Way as we did a Scottish Coast to Coast covering 150 miles of walking bliss.
Leza & John Maloney