Self-Guided Walking Tours & Biking Tours


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Best of the Great Glen Way self-guided hiking trip
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Highlights

  • Wander the purple heather-clad landscape of Scotland’s renowned Great Glen
  • Stay in Edinburgh’s old town just minutes from the capital’s iconic castle
  • Unravel the stories of the legendry monster of Loch Ness—“Nessie” and 13th century Urquhart Castle
  • Feast on delicious Scottish cuisine and sample a local ale or two
  • Delight in “ceud mìle fàilte” (a hundred thousand welcomes) at our hand-selected accommodations

On this self-guided walking tour immerse yourself in the best of Scotland’s Great Glen Way on a shortened trip itinerary. Explore Scotland’s Highland landscape brimming with deep lochs and glens between the quaint village of Fort Augustus and Inverness, Scotland's most northerly city. End the trip in true Scottish style by spending a night in heart of Edinburgh’s old town just minutes from the city’s castle.

Begin the trip with one of Scotland’s most scenic rail journeys—wind your way north from Glasgow through seemingly infinite glens to reach Fort William at the base of Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. By day relish tranquil hiking as you roam a landscape strewn with ruined castles and remote villages nestled among impressive mountains. At night retire to our hand-selected accommodations and settle down with a dram to reflect on a day well spent . Round off the trip with a night in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital.


Day 1 - Train to Fort Willam and transfer to Glengarry

The West Highland Line from Glasgow to Fort William is said to be Scotland’s most scenic train line; take your seat for the journey north (3 hr 45 min) through mountain ranges and around sea lochs. 


As the outdoor capital of the west coast, active enthusiasts of all kinds gather in Fort William to make the most the surrounding landscape. A private transfer will meet you at Fort William train station for the scenic drive (40 min) to Glengarry Castle Hotel situated in an idyllic lochside spot along the Great Glen. As you leave Fort William keep an eye out for Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain!


Dinner & overnight: Glengarry Castle Hotel



Day 2 - Walk to Fort Augustus


From the tranquil, lochside location of Glengarry stroll through the little village of Invergarry, complete with castle ruins. Walk a more remote section of the Great Glen Way with wonderful views over little Loch Oich through rich woodlands. Follow the canal and river that link Loch Oich to the iconic Loch Ness, Scotland’s deepest loch. 


Soon you’ll reach Fort Augustus—here the canal passes directly through the heart of the village—on the shores of Loch ness. Why not sample delicious local cuisine in The Brasserie restaurant at the Lovat Hotel before a relaxing evening in your accommodation? Perched on the southern end of Loch Ness among dramatic peaks this secluded location is a fabulous setting for a good night’s sleep.


Walk: 9 miles / 14.5 km


Overnight: Fort Augustus



Day 3 - Walk to Drumnadrochit


After being dropped off in the little village of Invermoriston on the banks of Loch Ness you’re presented with a choice of walks—a high and low variation of the Great Glen Way. The low route hugs the shores of Loch Ness initially and soon joins the high route. Alternatively, the more challenging, but firm favourite among our guests, is the high route—a little extra ascent and rugged terrain is rewarded by some of the best views of the glen! The routes join again and you’ll ascend to be greeted by stunning views over the 13-16th century ruins of Urqhuart Castle that was once a stronghold of Robert the Bruce. Descend into Drumnadrochit village, the hub for all things Loch Ness. 


The quaint Loch Ness Inn offers a relaxed atmosphere for walkers and travellers. Unwind in the cosy restaurant serving home-cooked dishes made with local ingredients.


Walk: High Route 14 miles / 22 km (1900 ft ascent / 1950 ft descent) or Low Route 15 miles / 23.5 km (1700 ft ascent / 1770ft descent)


Overnight: Drumnadrochit



Day 4 - Walk to Inverness


Take a private transfer to Loch Laide (15 mins) for the final day of hiking on the itinerary.  Savour the peace and tranquility of the dramatic highland landscape as you follow the Caledonian Canal past quaint cottages, and along lush river paths into the bustling city of Inverness.


The River Ness passes through the heart of the city; lined with historic townhouses and punctuated by the imposing hilltop castle. The canal now heads out to sea on Scotland’s east coast marking the end of the Great Glen Way. 


Dine at one of the many eateries alongside the river and enjoy the best of locally sourced Highland cuisine. The staff at your hand-selected accommodation will have some great restaurant recommendations for you.  


Walk: 9 miles / 14km


Overnight: Inverness



Day 5 - Train to Edinburgh


Hop on the train to Edinburgh (3hr 40mins) and gaze out of the window as the rugged landscape of the Cairngorm National Park and the agricultural wealth of Perthshire fly past. Keep a look out for the iconic Edinburgh Castle—perched atop an ancient volcanic dome that provided an ideal defensive position for the castle’s inhabitants throughout history. 


Stop by your hotel to drop off your luggage before heading out to explore Scotland’s capital. Stroll among the narrow cobbled streets and wind your way up the Royal Mile towards Edinburgh Castle. Linger here simply to soak in this singular city-scape from above—the view is rivaled only by those from Carlton Hill and Arthur’s Seat.


Come evening take your pick of the city’s many delightful eateries—up-scale, charming or traditional—the sheer variety is evidence of Edinburgh’s diverse foodie scene!


Overnight: Edinburgh



Day 6 - Onward travel


End your trip after a delicious breakfast and make your onward journey from this internationally connected city.

Accommodation

One of the highlights of this tour is the standard of accommodations. We have hand-selected the hotels to make sure you love every minute of your stay. All offer a warm Scottish welcome to walkers.


Please note that in August, due to the very popular Fringe Festival, accommodation availability in Edinburgh is limited and costs tend to be higher so a supplement may be applicable. We will confirm any potential supplement with you before finalising your trip. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask our specialists.


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

We will be happy to accommodate your party with single rooms if requested—a single supplement applies. This trip is also available to solo walkers, and a supplement is again payable (as some costs are not shared). Please note that depending on availability single rooms may not always be of the same standard as twins/doubles.


Meals

A Scottish cooked breakfast is served each morning. These typically range from eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, cheese, yoghurt and coffee/tea with traditional Scottish favorites such as black pudding and smoked fish. Lunch, snacks and some dinners are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. A 3-course evening meal at the secluded Glengarry Castle Hotel is included in the trip cost.


Most of your accommodations will be able to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively, you can buy lunch at local shops or stop in a café if available.


Accommodations

We usually use the following hotels but occasionally may use well-loved alternatives if these are not available. You can also choose to upgrade your final nights’ accommodation in Edinburgh if you wish.



 

 

 




Glengarry Castle Hotel

Situated in a tranquil location on the banks of Loch Oich, Glengarry Castle Hotel is a delightful retreat from the trappings of everyday modern living. Relax and unwind in this historic country hotel with unrivaled views of the loch, which make up for the simplicity of tonight’s lodging. Here we include a 3 course dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.


 

 

 


 

 

 




The Lovat

In the quaint canal-side village of Fort Augustus the Lovat Hotel enjoys all the modern comforts and attention to detail of a recently refurbished Highland hotel with a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. Tonight we include a delicious dinner in the hotel restaurant using the best locally-sourced produce where possible.


 

 

 


 

 

 




The Loch Ness Inn

The lochside village of Drumndrochit abounds with all things Nessie and Loch Ness, and it’s here you’ll find your accommodation for the night—the casual Loch Ness Inn. Savor typical Highland pub grub at the hotel bar or head out and explore the village.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Kingsmills Hotel

An oasis of modernity in the coastal city of Inverness the large 4 star Kingsmills Hotel is situated in a quiet area of the town. The rooms are individually decorated in a contemporary style, and you’ll have access to the indoor pool and spa amenities—the perfect place to unwind after a few days on the trail. There are a couple of dining options; the sophisticated Inglis Restaurant or the more relaxed Conservatory Restaurant.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Du Vin

Located on a historic street just minutes from Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, the National Museum and Edinburgh Castle this relaxed 4 star hotel is a great base from where to explore all of the city’s unmissable attractions. Built in 1743 Hotel du Vin is brimming with character and traditional features tempered with a modern touch. Venture into the city for your evening meal or simply relax and dine in at the hotel’s bistro.


 

 

 


Meals


A Scottish cooked breakfast is served each morning. These typically range from eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, cheese, yoghurt and coffee/tea with traditional Scottish favorites such as black pudding and smoked fish. Lunch, snacks and some dinners are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. A 3-course evening meal at the secluded Glengarry Castle Hotel is included in the trip cost. Most of your accommodations will be able to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively, you can buy lunch at local shops or stop in a café if available.




Luggage Transfer



Your luggage will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 40lbs/18kg per person, and on the rail journeys that you bring your luggage with you.




Grade & Terrain



We have created this “best of” itinerary to showcase the best walks and create the perfect balance of walking and sightseeing to fit into a shorter timescale than our longer 9 day & 8 night Best of the Great Glen Way and Edinburgh itinerary. While the walks are less challenging than if you were to walk the entire Great Glen Way, they offer magnificent views and you will really get a sense of Scotland’s dramatic Highland scenery. Any limited road walking tends to be scenic and mostly along quiet lanes, however from time to time there are some busier stretches where you will need to look out for traffic.


This itinerary is rated easy to moderate. On most days you will be walking on well-waymarked terrain that may include forest tracks, rocky trails, and occasionally back country roads. On the whole most days have minimal ascent/descent as you’ll be following the Caledonian Canal most of the way. The most challenging walk from Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit includes up to 1700-1900 ft /520-580 m (depending on whether you choose the high or low route option) of ascent so if you’re not a frequent hiker we suggest you do a little training so you find this day as enjoyable as possible.




Navigation



This route is well way-marked and follows the internationally recognised Great Glen Way making navigation straightforward. We recommend you navigate using our Macs Adventure smartphone app—simply download your daily routes for offline use and follow the GPS tracks of the trail with the assurance that you will not get lost.




Equipment



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.




Travel Insurance



Travel insurance helps protect your travel investment, your belongings and most importantly you, from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip. For more information, please visit our travel insurance page by clicking this link" Link: https://www.macsadventure.com/us/about-us/contact-booking/travel-insurance/


 


Getting to Glasgow

The trip begins at Glasgow Queen Street train station. Glasgow is easily accessible from the UK via rail and motorway links. If you’re travelling from Europe, North America or further afield we recommend flying into Glasgow Airport just a short taxi journey from the city centre (20 mins).


The airport has plenty of European links and if flying from North America there are direct flights available from New York, Orlando, Toronto and Halifax. Otherwise, you can easily connect from other North American airports via Iceland, London or Amsterdam using British Airways, KLM, or a multitude of low budget airlines such as Ryanair or Easyjet.  



Returning from Edinburgh


Your hotel in Edinburgh is located within a short walk of Waverley Train Station, from where it’s less than an hour on the train to Glasgow (check the Scotrail website for timetables and tickets) for your return flight or onward travel. 


Alternatively, if you are extending your travels in Europe via Edinburgh airport it’s a 30 min taxi from the city centre to the airport, which is also easily reachable using the tram or Citylink bus networks. 


 

Included

  • 5 Nights in hand-selected accommodations
  • 5 Breakfasts
  • 1 Dinner
  • Luggage transfers
  • Transfers to walks as listed
  • Trains from Glasgow to Fort William & Inverness to Edinburgh
  • Information pack, GPX tracks and access to the Macs Adventure smartphone app
  • 24/7 telephone support from our UK office

Excluded

  • Travel insurance
  • Travel to and from Glasgow/Edinburgh Airports
  • Lunches and 4 dinners
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage
  • Personal equipment

Extras

  • Additional nights accommodation in Glasgow
  • Additional nights before, during or after the walk
  • Single room and solo supplement
  • Upgraded accommodation in Edinburgh

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 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 luggage transfers work?

Your luggage 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 40lbs / 18kg per person and to bring your bags with you on rail journeys.

When is the best time of year?

This walking tour is best enjoyed between April and the beginning of October. Scotland’s weather is changeable so no matter what month you decide to travel you could experience spring, summer and fall all in one day!

April is a wonderful time to travel in Scotland, the daffodils in the villages are blooming and the countryside is alive with wildlife. May is particularly popular among walkers as it tends to be the driest month of the year. However, for slightly warmer weather (just an average of 65°F) we recommend travelling in July or August. For cooler temperatures, and to experience the beautiful autumnal colours on the trees September is a also a great month for walking.

You can start on any date that suits your travel plans and you will find availability on our website. The Great Glen Way is popular so it’s best to book as far in advance as you are able.

How do we get to and from the trail?

The trip begins in Glasgow—easily accessible from the UK via rail and motorway links. If you’re travelling from Europe, North America or further afield we recommend flying into Glasgow Airport just ahort taxi journey from the city centre (20 mins).

The airport has plenty of European links and if flying from North America there are direct flights available from New York, Orlando, Toronto and Halifax. Otherwise, you can easily connect from other North American airports via Iceland, London or Amsterdam using British Airways, KLM, or a multitude of low budget airlines such as Ryanair or Easyjet.  

What happens if I can't walk a stage?

You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.

 

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