- Walking the length of Glen Affric, “Scotland’s most beautiful glen”
- Leaving Inverness Castle on the banks of the River Ness at the start of a great adventure
- Plentiful opportunities to see Scottish wildlife - from otters to red deer
- Enjoying the tranquillity of the remote Glen Affric eco-hostel, a nature lover’s paradise
- Reaching Loch Duich on the west coast amongst the towering peaks of Kintail
- Enjoying a fireside dram at the end of an unforgettable day of highland walking
The Glen Affric Trail across Scotland begins in Inverness, the capital of the highlands, before heading west along Loch Ness to Drumnadrochit. Here you leave the Great Glen as you walk to Cannich and then on into Glen Affric. Often called the most beautiful glen in Scotland Glen Affric is a National Scenic Area and National Nature Reserve. You walk through Caledonian pine and beech forests as you traverse the length of Glen Affric.
At the head of the glen you spend a night in the Glen Affric youth hostel, a remote eco-hostel four hours walk from the nearest road. A nature lover’s paradise, the hostel is surrounded by brooding peaks and great views. You won’t want to leave the next morning, when you continue west between the hulking mass of Bheinn Fhada and the Five Sisters of Kintail to reach the sea at Shiel Bridge. The final section of your walk across Scotland takes you on Drovers’ roads, across the Glenelg Peninsula, past iron age brochs, to Glenelg, where your adventure ends.
The changing landscapes and wonderful walking combine to make the Glen Affric Trail across Scotland a classic long distance walk. But this is only half the story; on your journey from coast to coast you will also discover the secret corners of Scotland and her people that make the highlands so special.
Day 1 - Arrive Inverness
Inverness, the capital of the Highlands is divided by the salmon filled waters of the River Ness on the shore of the Moray Firth. There is plenty to explore including Inverness Castle, nearby Culloden battlefield or perhaps take a cruise on Loch Ness.
Day 2 - Inverness to Drumnadrochit
As this is a coast to coast walk make sure you collect a pebble from the banks of the Moray Firth before setting off for Drumnadrochit. The first day of your walk follows the route of the Great Glen Way along the River Ness, the Caledonian Canal and then up through Dochgarroch Woods to the high ground above Loch Ness. Finally you drop down to Drumnadrochit with great views of Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.
Drumnadrochit is at the heart of the Loch Ness Monster industry and this pretty little lochside town is home to all things Nessie.
Walk: 20 miles
Day 3 - Drumnadrochit to Cannich
At Drumnadrochit you part company with the Great Glen and your day’s walk begins with a steep ascent to the ruins of a Pictish fort overlooking Urquhart Castle. This area has always been a crossroads and as the walk contours through woodland and forest you pass forts, hut circles and chambered cairns.
The final few miles of the walk are along the road to Cannich, which has wide verges and is fairly quiet. Cannich is a small village lying at the head of two huge remote glens, Glen Affric and Glen Cannich. The main employer are the hydroelectric schemes nearby.
Walk: 13 miles
Day 4 - Cannich to Affric Lodge
As you leave Cannich the scenery steps up several notches. You are entering the wonderful world of Glen Affric. This area is a conservation success story. Since sheep and deer where excluded the natural beech and Caledonian pine forests have made a remarkable comeback. Brimming with native wildlife and birds you should enjoy numerous sightings if you walk quietly.
There is no accommodation at the end of the day’s walk at Affric Lodge so we will transfer you back to Cannich for your overnight accommodation.
Walk: 13 miles
Day 5 - Affric Lodge to Alltbeithe
After the short transfer back to Affric Lodge you follow a footpath on the North Shore of Loch Affric to the Cnoc Fada at the head of Loch Fada. The route then continues west to the remote Alltbeithe Youth Hostel. Today you will have the privilege of walking through some of the highland’s finest landscapes. Enjoy!
Glen Affric Youth Hostel (Alltbeithe) is a unique and remote hostel situated 8 miles from the nearest road. A former stalking bothy it is comfortably furnished and fully equipped. Glen Affric Youth Hostel offers budget multi-share accommodation but also offers two private rooms. The Youth Hostel has a well equipped kitchen and friendly welcoming staff. You must remember to bring your own food and drink supplies, also a 2 or 3 tog rating sleeping bag. There is no shop or mobile phone coverage at the hostel.
Walk: 9 miles
Overnight: Glen Affric (Alltbeithe) Youth Hostel
Day 6 - Alltbeithe to Morvich/Shiel Bridge
You head west from Alltbeithe through the wonderfully named Fionngleann, soon crossing the watershed at Cnoc Biodag, before following Gleann Licht to Morvich and then Shiel Bridge.
Whilst officially you are now on the west coast you have one more superb day of walking to Glenelg to look forward to.
Walk: 13 miles
Overnight: Shiel Bridge
Day 7 - Shiel Bridge to Glenelg
Glenelg, your final destination, has long been an important connection to the Isle of Skye. Cattle drovers swam their cattle across the narrow, but fast flowing, straights of Kylerhea on their way to the markets in central Scotland.
Leaving Shiel Bridge you climb steadily to 500m and are rewarded with wonderful views of the Five Sisters of Kintail. The descent to Glenelg takes you through Gleann Beag, where you will find several well preserved iron age brochs.
Walk: 16 miles
Day 8 - Onward Travel
Unless you are taking the ferry across to Skye you will need to take a taxi to Shiel Bridge or Kyle of Lochalsh where you can connect with the frequent buses that run to Inverness (1h 40), Fort William (1h 30) and Glasgow (5h 00).
You may wish to extend your time on the walk and we can add extra nights at any point before, during or after the walk. Drumnadrochit and Glenelg are both great options for additional nights, as is Alltbeithe if you wish to tackle some of the surrounding munros.
Included in your trip are 7 nights in carefully selected accommodation. 6 Nights are in 3 star B&B’s and Inn's and 1 night will be in the Glen Affric Youth Hostel in a private room (if available).
Glen Affric Youth Hostel is a remote eco-hostel with no shop or food so you will need to carry your food and drinks that you will need for dinner, breakfast and lunch the following day. You will also need to carry a sleeping bag and overnight clothes. Your main bag will be waiting for you in Shiel Bridge.Some of the accommodation we regularly use includes:
- Acorn House Guest House, Inverness
- Kilmore Farmhouse, Drumnadrochit
- Westward B&B, Cannich
- Glen Affric (Alltbeithe) Youth Hostel
- Kintail Lodge Hotel, Shiel Bridge
- Glenelg Inn, Glenelg
Solo Walkers & Single Rooms
This holiday is not available to solo walkers due to the remote nature of the terrain. However if you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to
accommodate your request, although it is not generally possible to
secure more than three single rooms in a party.
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. You will need to carry food for the night you are staying at the Glen Affric Youth Hostel.
This trip is available to start any day of the week, between April and September, although the best time to walk (for finer weather) is usually between May and September.
Solo Walkers & Single Rooms
This trip is not available to solo walkers due to the remote nature of the terrain. However if you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate your request, although it is not generally possible to secure more than three single rooms in a party.
Grade & Terrain
This walk is graded moderate to strenuous, the route comprises of hill and mountain tracks, riverside trails, minor roads and highland paths, some of which can be indistinct and boggy. Some of the ascents and descents are steep and can be exposed so require a good head for heights and sure-footedness in places. At the beginning /end of each day you may have some walking on tarmac/pavements (unfortunately unavoidable) as you exit/enter villages (the exception being Day 5). You should have a good level of walking fitness to get the most from this tour.
This route is not way marked and a couple of sections follow very indistinct trails across boggy, rough and remote ground. You should be a competent navigator with map and compass.
Daily door to door baggage transfers are included in the price of your trip. We ask you to limit your luggage to a maximum of 1 bag of up to 20kg per person. Except on day 5 to Glen Affric Youth Hostel, where you will need to carry an overnight bag and your main luggage will be moved to Shiel Bridge.
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.
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 and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for the summer along with a day pack.
Getting to Inverness
By Air: Inverness Airport is served by flights from throughout Scotland and the UK as well as several European destinations. For international travellers Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports are are the most convenient.
By Train: Inverness is easily accessible by rail from Glasgow (3h20) or Edinburgh (3h30) and from connecting destinations throughout the UK.
Visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for timetables and tickets.
By Coach: Scottish Citylink operates several services daily from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Inverness. Visit www.citylink.co.uk for timetables and tickets.
By Car: Inverness is 170miles (3 hours) north of Glasgow on the A9. Parking (not secure) is available in Inverness. You can leave your car at some accommodation we use in Inverness but please request this at the time of booking.
Journey Planning: If travelling by public transport the website www.travelinescotland.com has an excellent journey planner.
Onward from Glenelg: Unless you are taking the ferry across to Skye you will need to take a taxi to Shiel Bridge or Kyle of Lochalsh where you can connect with the frequent buses that run to Inverness(1h40), Fort William (1h30) and Glasgow (5h00).
It is a requirement of booking a with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance.
- Accommodation in carefully selected B&B's, Guest Houses and Country Inn's.
- 1 Night in Glen Affric Youth Hostel. (Private twin room if available—otherwise dorm).
- Breakfast each morning.
- Door to door baggage transfer.
- A detailed pre-departure information pack, guide book and map per party.
- Emergency telephone support from our office in the event of a problem.
- Travel to the start or from the finish of the walk
- Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks.
- Breakfast at Glen Affric Youth Hostel
- Travel Insurance.
- Personal Equipment.
ExtrasSingle Room Supplement(s) Extra night(s)
We are often asked the following questions and we hope that you will find the answers useful. Please contact us if you have any further queries.
How fit do I need to be?
The daily distances are up to 20 miles and the trip is graded moderate to strenuous so you should have a good level of walking fitness as you will be walking for up to 8 hours each day. 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.
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as you know your plans as the Highlands are very popular especially throughout the summer.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a day pack and hats/gloves etc. You will need a sleeping bag for Glen Affric Youth Hostel.
When is the best time of year?
Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year for walking in Scotland because the theory goes that the weather is better and the midges have not yet appeared. Although having walked in the highlands extensively we believe that any time from April to October offers a wonderful experience.
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, 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.
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 farm land.
What happens if I can’t walk a stage?
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.