Arrive Fort William
Lying in the shadow of Ben Nevis at the head of Loch Linnhe sits Scotland’s outdoor capital - Fort William.
Glasgow and Inverness are the closest airports to Fort William and regular trains and buses connect to Fort William.
Overnight: Nevis Bank Inn****, Fort William
The modern 4-star Nevis Bank Inn is the perfect place to spend your first night in the Highlands. Situated on the banks of the River Ness, you can enjoy a meal in the excellent 'Browns' restaurant or relax in the bar. Fort William is just a 10 mins walk away.
Walk to Gairlochy
You start on the outskirts of Fort William following the River Lochy with a short detour to Old Inverlochy Castle. Ben Nevis Distillery, which runs tastings and tours is also just off the route. After briefly following the banks of Loch Linnhe you reach Corpach where the Caledonian Canal meets the Atlantic.
Here you turn northeast and follow the towpath to Banavie and Neptune’s staircase, a series of lochs which raise the canal 80 feet in 400.
Leaving Banavie behind you follow the canal towpath as it winds its way through stunning countryside above the River Lochy with great views of Ben Nevis and the Grey Corries. On arrival in Gairlochy we will transfer you to your accommodation in Spean Bridge.
Walk: 10.5 miles / 17 km
Overnight: Smiddy House****, Spean Bridge
Once the village Smithy this 4-star ‘Restaurant With Rooms’ offers first class Scottish hospitality.
Rooms are individually designed but it is its cuisine for which Smiddy House is known. Highland game, beef and lamb, scallops from the Isle of Mull, Arisaig prawns and salmon from Wester Ross all feature frequently on the menu.
Walk to Laggan
From Gairlochy you follow the shore of Loch Lochy on forest tracks through land owned by the Cameron Clan. The Clan Cameron Museum at Achnacarry is well worth the short detour. Achnacarry was also home to one of the toughest commando training camps in the world.
If you do decide to visit the museum we would strongly recommend taking the detour (on the minor road) past Loch Arkaig to then re-join the path again at Clunes as this is a wonderful walk. After Clunes the road continues on fire tracks above Loch Lochy all the way to South Laggan.
Walk: 12 miles / 19 km
Overnight: Glengarry Castle Hotel***
Glengarry Castle sits on the shores of Loch Oich, between Loch Ness and Loch Lochy in a beautiful woodland setting. You will be greeted with the aroma of the wood smoke from the burning log fires. Rooms are individually styled in traditional highland style and staying in a castle is always special, especially when you can look forward to a fine meal in the castle restaurant with fine views of Loch Oich.
Please note that Glengarry Hotel are unable to accommodate group bookings of 9 people and above. If you wish to book a group this size, please phone our office and we can discuss alternative options.
Walk to Fort Augustus
Your day starts at Laggan Bridge, which is the highpoint of the Caledonian Canal at 106ft above sea level. Initially you follow the Eastern shore of Loch Oich, through one of Scotland’s most beautiful pristine natural woodlands, which is teeming with bird and wildlife. Once you reach the end of Loch Oich at Oich Bridge you follow the canal for a few miles along to Fort Augustus.
This is a lovely section of canal and Kytra Lock is one of the highlights of the entire walk.
Fort Augustus is centred on a series of lochs which are always a hive of activity. It is a great spot to spend afternoon or evening.
Walk: 10.5 miles / 17 km
Overnight: The Lovat Hotel***, Fort Augustus
The Lovat is a beautiful, eco-friendly hotel located in the village of Fort Augustus on the southern tip of Loch Ness. Rooms are contemporary yet traditional with the majority enjoying views of mountains, the Canal or Loch Ness.
Meals can be taken in the main restaurant, offering a finer dining experience or in the Brassiere. Both provide diverse menus cooked from some of the finest ingredients found in Scotland.
Day 5 Walk to Invermoriston
At Fort Augustus you leave the canal and begin your journey on the banks of Loch Ness. This section has some steep climbs and is mainly on fire roads and some good tracks. You have great views of Loch Ness throughout so make sure you keep those eyes peeled for the monster.
Walk: 8 miles / 13 km
Overnight: Glen Moriston Arms, Invermoriston
Invermoriston is a small but charming village not far from Loch Ness. Stay in a superior, superking or four-poster bed room at this friendly and welcoming hotel, which boasts a relaxed guest lounge with open fire, bar, and a restaurant serving such delights as pan-seared wood pigeon or Highland venison stroganoff. Why not treat yourself to a relaxing massage in the hotel’s treatment room (pre-booking essential).
Walk to Drumnadrochit
Rejoin the Great Glen Way as it climbs steeply out of Invermoriston. The path climbs steeply until you are high above Loch Ness, it then descends again to the Lochside after three miles and climbs again, so yes, a tougher day of walking today. Most of the section is spent on woodland paths and tracks on the steep sides of the Glen.
A great day's walk ends in Drumnadrochit, famous for its Loch Ness Monster experiences.
Walk: 14.5 miles / 23 km
Overnight: Loch Ness Inn, Drumnadrochit
The Loch Ness Inn is found in the heart of the small town, run by a friendly team who have won numerous Scottish hotel awards. Most of the restaurant’s fish is sourced from Mallaig, with seafood from Applecross Bay. There is also Highland farmed beef, lamb and venison.
Walk to Loch Laide
Today you will walk the section of the Great Glen Way from Drumnadrochit to Loch Laide.
This morning you’ll be transferred further north, so that you can start your day’s walking and appreciate the easier descent and views of Loch Ness as you walk back to your hotel. Returning to Drumnadrochit, if you have time, pay a visit to Urquhart Castle which is nestled on a rocky promontory on the loch, within easy walking distance of the town. With over a thousand years of history, a visit to this picturesque castle is well worthwhile.
Walk: 7 miles / 11 km
Overnight: Loch Ness Inn, Drumnadrochit
Walk to Inverness
Take a short transfer back to where you started your walk yesterday (this is a remote part of the Great Glen Way). You follow woodland trails to climb and rejoin the Great Glen Way at Loch Laide. Here you follow a minor road across the heather moors for a few miles and then at Blackfold you branch off through the forest before beginning your descent down towards Inverness and the Moray Firth.
Following the Caledonian Canal and River Ness you soon walk into the centre of Inverness and Inverness Castle, which marks the end of your walk on the Great Glen Way.
Walk: 12.5 miles / 20 km
Overnight: Rocpool Hotel*****, Inverness
The Rocpool hotel is a boutique hotel providing modern elegance and outstanding service. The bedrooms are classically chic and come with all the amenities you would expect from a 5-star hotel. Unwind in the R bar overlooking the river and enjoy an evening drink. The Chez Roux restaurant is overseen by the multi award-winning chef Albert Roux OBE. A fitting highpoint on which to end your trip.
Your trip ends after breakfast. Inverness has good rail, bus and air links to destinations throughout Scotland the UK.
The High Route
In Summer 2014, through a £1 million project, the Forestry Commission Scotland created over 10 miles (16km) of waymarked Great Glen ‘High Route’ above Loch Ness. These new options take you above the treeline and offer fantastic views than the traditional route, with some challenging gradients and a new summit at 422m (1385ft) on Creag Dhearg.
Getting to/from Fort William
By Air: Inverness and Glasgow Airports are the most convenient. From Inverness Airport catch the bus (2 hours) or arrange a private transfer to Fort William. From Glasgow Airport take the shuttle bus into Glasgow city centre and then the train (4 hours) or bus (3 hours) to Fort William.
By Train: Between 3 and 4 trains run daily from Glasgow to Fort William and the journey takes around 4 hours. Widely regarded as one of the world’s great rail journeys this is a great way to start your trip.
Visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for timetables and tickets.
By Bus: Scottish Citylink operates 9 buses per day from Glasgow (3 hours) and 8 buses per day from Inverness (2 hours) to Inverness.
Visit www. citylink.co.uk for timetables and tickets.
By Car: Fort William is 100 miles (3 hours) north of Glasgow on the A82. Parking (not secure) is available in Fort William. You can leave your car at some accommodation we use in Fort William but please request this at the time of booking.
Private Transfers: We can arrange private transfers from Glasgow, Inverness or Edinburgh. Just ask us for a quote. Often is spectacular and a great way to begin your adventure.
Journey Planning: If travelling by public transport the website www.travelinescotland.com has an excellent journey planner.
Getting from Inverness
Inverness has excellent transport links by road, rail and air to destinations throughout Scotland and the UK. Use the websites listed above for timetables and tickets.
We are often asked the following questions, and I hope that you will find the answers useful.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us or perhaps visit our walking forum for more advice from our clients and team.
How fit do I need to be?
The Great Glen Way is a relatively easy walking trail, and if you are a regular walker or lead an active lifestyle, you will enjoy the trail. If you currently don’t enjoy that level of fitness, regular walking supplemented by cardiovascular exercise for at least six months before your walk is recommended. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.
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 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.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc.
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.
When is the best time of year?
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. Although having walked the way in every summer month, I believe any time between late March and October offers a wonderful experience.
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.
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.
Am I able to take my dog?
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 farmland.
What happens if I can't walk a stage?
You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.