Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Great Glen Way Self Guided Walking Holiday
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Highlights

  • Following a classic walking trail through highland scenery; Fort William to Inverness.
  • Discovering the Caledonian Canal with its very impressive series of locks.
  • Visiting Urquhart Castle and its superb setting on Loch Ness; watch out for the monster!
  • The Great Glen Way offers some of the finest views of impressive Ben Nevis.
  • A real sense of achievement of having completed the Great Glen Way.

The Great Glen Way is a 79-mile walk through Scotland’s most famous Glen; crossing on foot from Fort William, via the famed shores of Loch Ness, to Inverness. The Great Glen Way takes you through beautiful forests, past peaceful working canals and alongside brooding lochs. Macs Adventure offers a variety of durations for the walk, dependent on how much time you have and how far you'd like to hike each day.

You start your adventure in Fort William, at the base of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. You then follow the Caledonian Canal via Neptune’s Staircase to Gairlochy, before continuing up Loch Lochy to South Laggan, and on to Fort Augustus via Loch Oich and Kytra Lock. The Great Glen Way then follows the western shore of Loch Ness passing the highland towns of Invermoriston and Drumnadrochit until you reach the historic town of Inverness. Nessie hunters can even take a cruise on Britain's largest loch (by volume of water), whilst Urquhart Castle is another must-see, with its commanding view of Loch Ness, as is Inverness Castle at the walk’s end.

Section 1: Fort William to Gairlochy, 10.5 miles, 17 km / 4 - 5 hours

Fort William is a bustling town and very popular among climbers and walkers as it sits at the base of Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest peak. Follow the river Lochy with short detours possible to Old Inverlochy Castle or Ben Nevis Distillery. After briefly following the banks of Loch Linnie, you reach Corpach where the Caledonian Canal meets the Atlantic (make sure you dip your feet!).


Follow the towpath northeast to Banavie and Neptune’s Staircase, a series of locks which raise the canal 80 feet in just 400. Continue along the canal towpath as it winds its way through stunning countryside above the River Lochy. Your overnight stop in Gairlochy* appears all too soon.


*There is very limited accommodation in Gairlochy and you may be staying in Spean Bridge, a pleasant 3-mile walk further up the valley (we will inform you if this is the case).


Section 2: Gairlochy to Laggan, 12 miles, 19 km / 5 - 6 hours

From Gairlochy you follow the shore of Loch Lochy on forest tracks through land owned by the Cameron clan. Achnacarry was also home to one of the toughest commando training camps, and the nearby museum highlights the remarkable conditions they endured. After Clunes, the road continues on fire tracks above Loch Lochy all the way to South Laggan and the locks.


There is a wonderful pub and seafood restaurant on a moored barge at Laggan Locks called the Eagle Inn; great for an afternoon pint or a fantastic evening meal. Your accommodation is generally a mile or so from the locks.


Section 3: Laggan to Fort Augustus, 10.5 miles, 17 km / 4 - 5 hours

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, one of Scotland’s most beautiful and 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 a busy little town and is centred on a series of locks which are always a hive of activity. It is a great spot to spend a relaxed afternoon or evening.


Section 4: Fort Augustus to Invermoriston, 8 miles, 13 km / 4 - 5 hours

At Fort Augustus you leave the canal and begin our 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 - you might be lucky. Invermoriston is your overnight stop and a very pretty little village.


Section 5: Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit, 14.5 miles, 23 km / 7 - 8 hours

As you leave Invermoriston the path climbs steeply until you are high above Loch Ness, it then descends again to the loch side after three miles and climbs again, so you should expect 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 proximity to Urquhart Castle and the popular Loch Ness Monster Experience. You should have enough time to explore at least one of these attractions.


Section 6: Drumnadrochit to Loch Laide, 7 miles, 11 km / 3 - 4 hours

From Drumnadrochit you endure a section on the busy A82 before climbing steadily through woodland and forestry. Eventually, the climbing comes to an end and you wave goodbye to Loch Ness. If you are splitting the walk to Inverness into two sections you will have a return transfer organised (detailed below) as there is no overnight accommodation at Loch Laide.


Transfer Info: If you are walking the trail over seven days or longer then we have arranged a morning transfer from Drumnadrochit to Loch Laide (you will walk this section in reverse from Loch Laide to Drumnadrochit). You will be transferred back to Loch Laide the following morning to continue your walk to Inverness.


Section 7: Loch Laide to Inverness, 12.5 miles, 20 km / 5 - 6 hours

Initially you follow a minor road 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. A mile before the end of the Great Glen Way you once again meet the Caledonian Canal and it is possible to walk all the way to the end if you wish.


The way turns right instead and follows the River Ness into the centre of Inverness and Inverness Castle, which marks the end of your wonderful journey across Scotland. If you have walked all the way from Drumnadrochit you will be very pleased to reach the end of the day's walk!


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, with some challenging gradients and a new summit at 422m (1385ft) on Creag Dhearg.

Accommodation

Overnight in B&B’s, small hotels and guesthouses, specifically chosen to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers and traditional hospitality.


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

The Great Glen Way is available and well suited to solo walkers as the route is popular and well marked. Single rooms are available but a single supplement is payable.


Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants and your guide book will have details.



 

 

 



Guisachan House - Fort William



Guisachan House - Fort William

A warm welcome awaits you at Guisachan House, a family run private hotel offering bed and breakfast in Fort William. Situated in an elevated position only 10 minutes walk from Fort William town centre, railway station, bus stance, and tourist information centre.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Dalcomera B&B - Gairlochy

Overlooking Ben Nevis and the River Lochy Dalcomera makes for the perfect first nights stop on the Great Glen Way.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Distant Hills - Spean Bridge



Distant Hills - Spean Bridge

Peter and Lesley McIntosh extend a warm welcome to you from their family run guest house. Distant Hills is a family run guest house, set in extensive grounds and located at the edge of a quiet Highland village.


 

 

 


 

 

 




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.


 

 


 

 

 



The Bank House - Fort Augustus



The Bank House - Fort Augustus

The Bank House B&B sits in a beautiful position overlooking the Caledonian Canal in the centre of Fort Augustus. You are assured a warm welcome at this lovely property and you are also within walking distance of Pubs, Restaurants and shops.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Bracarina House - Invermoriston

Located in the centre of Invermoriston and a stones throw from the pub Bracarina is a beautiful guesthouse with little extras such as a sauna to revive tired legs.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Craik na Dav - Invermoriston

Sisters Lindsey and Manda would like to offer you a very warm welcome to their home in Invermoriston. A footspa and foot massager are available and they offer homemade cake with tea / coffee / herbal tea / fruit tea on arrival.


 

 

 


 

 

 




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



Acorn House - Inverness

The ambiance throughout Acorn House is one of comfort and relaxation - you will discover a warmth and friendliness unrivaled in Inverness. Dugie and Fiona will look after you well in this award winning Guesthouse.


 

 

 

Important Diversion Note

Scottish Water are carrying out essential pipe laying works for the Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston water supplies. The works are expected to continue into June 2019. During this time the only route between Fort Augustus and Invermoriston will be on the Great Glen Way High Route as the Low Route will be closed due to the works. The High Route gives excellent views over the canal and surrounding hills - this diversion will be signposted but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us. If you would prefer to skip this section please speak to the team who can help you with arranging a transfer.


Availability

You can start your walk on the Great Glen Way on any day between March and October, subject to availability. The Great Glen Way is very popular so it is best to book as far in advance as you are able to.


Grade & Terrain

This holiday is graded easy to moderate overall, with the 7 and 8 day tours graded moderate, due to a couple of longer days. Daily walking distances very between 8 - 20
miles. Some days will be more challenging than others and the terrain
will be varied with some rough and rugged footpaths. There are ascents
and descents involved, so a good level of fitness will be required. For fitter walkers the High Route will appeal, which affords particularly spectacular views from the Great Glen Way.


Navigation

The route is well way marked and easy to follow. We supply a detailed map and guidebook so you will easily manage to find your way.


Baggage Transfer

Your bags will be collected from your accommodation each day and moved onto your overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 18kg per person.


Travel Insurance

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.


General Information

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.

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 Scotrail's website for timetables and tickets.


By Bus: Scottish Citylink operates up to 8 departures per day from Glasgow to Fortwilliam (3 hours) and up to 8 buses per day from Inverness (2 hours) to Fort William. Visit Scottish Citylink's website for timetables and tickets.


By Car: Fort William is 100 miles (approx. 3 hours) north of Glasgow on the A82. Parking (not secure) is available in Fort William. You can sometimes leave your car at the properties 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 to the start/end of your walk; just ask us for a quote. This is often the smoothest way to begin or conclude 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.

Included

  • Hand picked bed and breakfast accommodation in en-suite rooms wherever possible.
  • Door to door baggage transfer.
  • A detailed info pack, guidebook and map for the group leader.
  • 24/7 telephone support from our UK office

Excluded

  • Travel to the start or from the finish of the walk.
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Personal Equipment.
  • Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage.

Extras

  • Single room supplement.
  • Hotel and castle accommodation upgrade.
  • Extra nights before, during or after your walk.
  • Private transfer from Inverness to Fort William.

We are often asked the following questions and 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 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.

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 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 good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc.

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, we 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.

Five stars for the walk, two stars for the weather

4

The Great Glen Way is a lovely trail - stunning scenery and a little bit easier going and much quieter than the West Highland Way. Some fantastic accommodation along the way (particular mentions for Forest Lodge in Laggan, Bracarina in Invermoriston and Kilmore Farmhouse in Drumnadrochit) and good food available locally (the Abriachan eco-cafe is a must for a tea and cake stop!). Unfortunately we weren't lucky with the weather and ended up soaked to the skin despite waterproofs on two of the six days, but overall still a fantastic experience.

Sadie

Oxford

true

Great Times in the Great Glen

5

This was our 4th hike in Scotland (others include the West Highland Way), and this was up there with the best of them. Each day is different. The first is almost entirely along the canal, which some may find dull, but we found to be a highlight - very calm, with the occasional boat going past. Day 2 (Gairlochy to Laggan) is mostly a bit of a slog through commercial forest, but I suppose there has to be one day where you're just going from A to B! Apart from that, this is a great walk. I'd definitely recommend the high route either side of Invermoriston. Great views of Loch Ness on the first part, and good country walking on the second. Accommodation was very good throughout. All hosts took care of our wet clothes (it rained heavily 4 days out of 6!) without us asking. Most accommodation was more or less on the trail, with the exception of the first day - our accommodation was in Spean Bridge (3 miles from Gairlochy). If you do have this booked for you, definitely take the host up on the offer of a lift from Gairlochy. It's a long 3 or 4 miles walk on the road. Finally, on the last day (20 miles, but after a couple of miles climbing it's a long slow descent to the end), you must visit the Abriachan Eco-Cafe half-way along. It's not cheap (£9 or so for coffee and cake), but just one of the coolest places ever, with a lovely hostess - go for it! Had a great time. Well done as usual to Macs!

William and Joyce

Perth

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A relatively easy hike with fewr than expected midges

4

The trail was very well sign posted and gradually got harder as we approached Inverness. At times some of the Caledonain canal walking became monotonous and the recommended view points on the hilly bits were sometimes obscured by tree growth. Dont let this put you off from a good walk though.

Bag Carrier

Stourbridge

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Yes

5

A wonderful experience, all people we met were so friendly.

Yukon Glenn

Yukon Canada

true

Awesome Adventure

5

This was an awesome adventure. The folks at Macs Adventure were a pleasure to deal with. The trip was well planned and organized. The daily hikes were challenging yet manageable. The scenery was absolutely incredible. Accommodations were conveniently located to the trail. All were well-run establishments with clean, comfortable rooms and nice breakfasts. The proprietors were all very friendly and accommodating. We are already planning our next trip...

DGF

Massachusetts

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The Tranquil Beauty of Scotland

5

The directions and the Ap were great. The trail is well marked with lavender sign posts. It follows canals and lochs. The purple heather was starting to bloom and the magenta foxgloves were finishing. Everything is green. Aside from the flora, the area is rich in history, both tragic and heroic. My luggage was always there.

Walking Warrior

Carmel

true

Fabulous trip

5

My friend and I had an absolutely fabulous time. We are so happy to have used your service. All the B&B's you selected for us were perfect. The ones that are a bit off the beaten path after a long day of hiking offered to pick us up with a phone call. The accommodations were all very clean with en-suite and full Scottish breakfast if desired. It was fun to meet all the B&B owners and run into familiar groups also hiking the GGW in each village - whether it was at our B&B or a restaurant. It's also great that we could split that last day of 20 miles into two days with transport each day. We found time in every village to explore upon arrival. Your company is very professional, very accommodating. Our bags were delivered with any problems. It was great. Thank you very much. Looking into one of your trips to Norway next summer.

Adventure buddies

VT

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I would book again with Macs Adventure

4

The Great Glen Way will be a memorable adventure

The gazelle

Norfolk

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Such a great adventure!

5

We planned a 5 day walk across the Great Glen Way in Scotland. Setting it up with Macs Adventure was easy and went really soon. Loved not having to drag our bags and them just showing up at the next night accommodations. Each nights stay was lovely and unique. And we were well prepared with maps and knowing what was happening.

Rachel

Las Vegas

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People make the Glen

5

Walking the high road with only a handful of travelers, discovering coffee amongst forest regeneration, Bnb hosts with pine martins scurrying in the garden at breakfast and making new friends.

Yogi RM

Australia

true

Great Glen Way

4.6 172

98.2

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