The 79 mile Great Glen Way follows a route across Scotland from Fort William to Inverness. The Great Glen is Scotland’s longest glen and was formed by the Great Glen fault, which divides the Northwest Highlands from the Grampian Mountains. From Fort William to Inverness the Great Glen Way takes you through beautiful landscapes and past historic buildings.
The trail follows the segments of the brilliantly engineered Caledonian Canal, which link the sea loch at Fort William to Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, the mysterious Loch Ness, and sea water once again at the Moray Firth, where Inverness Castle marks the end of the Great Glen Way.
When it was opened in 2002 the Great Glen Way became Scotland’s fourth long distance path. The trail is mainly lowland walking following tow paths alongside the Caledonian Canal and woodland tracks along the banks of the lochs, though there are some challenging sections. The Great Glen Way is an excellent extension to a weeks walking on the West Highland Way.
Each night on the trail you stay in a different location in prebooked selected accommodation, with breakfast provided. Your luggage is collected daily and moved to your next accommodation.
Book with Northwestwalks and you can be confident of a personal, professional and well organised service. You can be assured we select quality walker friendly accommodation and provide a reliable daily luggage transfer service, plus a holiday pack which includes route information, accommodation details, route map, guidebook and the reassurance we can always be contacted should you need assistance.
This walking holiday is available from April to October. You can book your holiday to start on any date of your choice.
Start of route
End of route
Direction of walk
From South to North
Grade of walk
Generally this is generally an easy to moderate route with some strenuous walking in the final section of the route.
The terrain varies from tow paths, good woodland footpaths and rolling hills.
The route is sensibly waymarked and generally easy to follow with the aid of a map and guidebook.
Carefully selected walker friendly accommodation.
Breakfast each day.
Luggage transfer between overnight accommodation.
Route information and itinerary.
Detailed instructions to find your accommodation.
Guidebook and route map.
Not included in the price of your holiday
Evening meals, packed lunches, drinks and snacks, travel insurance, travel to Fort William and from Inverness, souvenirs, laundry services, etc.
Accommodation is provided in carefully selected walker friendly B&Bs, Guest Houses, small Hotels and Inns. We aim to book rooms with ensuite or private facilities every night, however in one village ensuite accommodation is limited and we may have to book a room with shared facilities for one night of your holiday.
We provide detailed instructions to find you accommodation.
Breakfast is included.
Packed lunches can be readily purchased from your overnight accommodation or local shop.
Evening meals can be purchased in local village pubs or overnight accommodation when a pub is not available.
For the duration of the holiday your luggage is transferred from accommodation to accommodation by a luggage transfer agent. Luggage allowance is 1 bag/person weighing not more than 18kg (40lbs).
Guidebooks and Maps
A guidebook and route map are included.
We can be contacted 24 hours a day if required.
The weather in the Scotland is varied. You should be prepared for all possibilities as weather, particularly in the hills, can change quickly. Weather statistics are available from the Met Office at www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/climate
Good outdoor clothing and waterproofs are essential, please see equipmement list for further details.
Comfortable walking boots which provide good grip on multiple terrain and ankle support are recommended.
Please see equipmement list for further details
Some accommodation owners provide a laundry service for a small fee.
The 79 mile Great Glen Way follows a route across Scotland from Fort William to Inverness. The Great Glen is Scotland’s longest glen and was formed by the Great Glen fault, which divides the Northwest Highlands from the Grampian Mountains. From Fort William to Inverness the Great Glen Way takes you through beautiful landscapes and past historic buildings. The following is intended to provide further information about the route. Please note that all distances and heights in this document are approximate and along with all the other information are provided as an aid to describe the route.
Fort William (height above sea level 10m) to Gairlochy (30m).
The Great Glen Way starts at Fort William, a town on the shore of Loch Linnhe. The route out of Fort William takes you past the ruins of the 13th century Inverlochy Castle and onto the embankment of the Caledonian Canal. You follow the canal to the spectacular Neptune's Staircase, a tightly packed series of eight locks that raise the canal 64ft/20m. There are wonderful views of Ben Nevis. The route continues on a good path alongside the canal to Gairlochy.
Gairlochy (30m) to Laggan (30m).
The Caledonian Canal meets Loch Lochy and you follow clear paths and forest tracks close to the shore of Loch Lochy. The Loch is said to be inhabited by a monster known as ‘Lizzie’. This is Clan Cameron territory and it is possible to take a detour to the Clan Cameron museum at Achnacarry. The route follows the Loch for approximately 10 miles to the next section of the Caledonian Canal at Laggan Locks.
Laggan (30m) to Fort Augustus (20m).
The route follows a short section of canal which links Loch Lochy to Loch Oich. The 4 mile route alongside the Loch follows the course of an old railway line and stretches of General Wade’s military road. You arrive at the next section of the Caledonian Canal and the Great Glen Way follows the canal side path to the locks at Fort Augustus. Fort Augustus lies at the southern end of Loch Ness, home of the legendary Loch Ness Monster, ‘Nessie’.
Fort Augustus (20m) to Invermoriston (30m).
This relatively easy section can be combined with the stretch from Laggan to Fort Augustus to create a ‘full day’s walk’. The route leads through Fort Augustus and a short climb brings you to a forest track. You follow paths and forest tracks above the shore of Loch Ness to Invermoriston. There is also an alternative high level route which climbs above the forest and offers more expansive views.
Invermoriston (30m) to Drumnadrochit (30m).
The Great Glen Way continues to follow mainly forest tracks alongside Loch Ness from Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit. For the last section the route drifts away from Loch Ness and picks up the path of a minor road. As you approach Drumnadrochit you can detour to visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle, on the shore of Loch Ness. The 13th century castle was once one of the largest castles in Scotland. There is also a high level optional route from Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit.
Drumnadrochit (30m) to Inverness (10m).
This is the longest and hardest section along the Great Glen Way. You have the option to complete this section in one day or split this section into two days. There is no accommodation along the route so return transfers from/to Blackfold and Drumnadrochit are included in the 8 night’s accommodation/7 days walking itinerary. You leave Drumnadrochit along the road and join the tracks through the forest. The tracks leave Loch Ness and climb to the highest point on route, 380M, in Abriachan Forest. You follow the course of an old drove road passing Blackfold. The route descends back into the Glen on the outskirts of Inverness. You cross the Caledonian Canal and then follow a path alongside the Rover Ness to finish at Inverness Castle.
Your starting point in the UK will probably determine the best transport option for you. Although there is a train station in Fort William it is sometimes quicker and more cost effective to take the train to Inverness or fly to Inverness airport, and then bus to Fort William.
Train timetables can be viewed and tickets purchased online at www.thetrainline.com
Reduced price ‘Advanced tickets’ can be purchased approx 12 weeks prior to departure. Prices can vary greatly and the cheaper tickets sometimes only become available approx 6 weeks prior to travel.
To Fort William
On weekdays a few trains a day depart Glasgow Queen Street for Fort William
Approximate journey times – From Glasgow Queen Street 4 hours. To London 9.5 hours (overnight service 12 hours)
Alternatively travel by train to Inverness and then bus (2 hours) to Fort William
Journeys can be planned online at www.traveline.info
There is a train station in Inverness.
Bus timetables are available to view online at www.traveline.info
Inverness Airport is a short bus ride from the centre of Inverness, and approx. 2 hours from Fort William. There are regular flights from several UK airports, for domestic and international connecting flights. Further information is available at
Please remember to
1. Keep the weight of your day pack and walking/hiking equipment to a comfortable weight for you to carry
2. Keep your suitcase/luggage under the maximum transfer weight (Maximum: 18kg (40lbs)).
The following checklist is an aid to help you with your packing
Walking/Hiking boots (worn in before your holiday)
Technical walking socks e.g. liner and thick outer socks
Trekking trousers (not jeans/denim)
Waterproof over trousers
Baselayer T-shirts and/or casual shirts
Fleece or warm jumper
Spare warm layer (to carry in your rucksack)
Rucksack (25 to 35 litres) and waterproof cover
Rucksack liner e.g. large plastic bag
Water bottles 1 litre (x2)
Basic First Aid Kit and personal medication
Torch / flashlight
Thermos flask for hot drinks
Antibacterial hand wash/wipes
Camera, film, batteries
Dear Dean, I just wanted to let you know we had a wonderful holiday in Scotland. All the accommodation that you booked for us was great. Everyone looked after us so well...Thank you for looking after us so well again. You run a tight ship, and it is much appreciated.
Best wishes, Sue, UK, Great Glen Way Self-Guided, 2016
Hi Dean, All went well on my second long distance walk. All the accommodation hosts were very friendly and the rooms were lovely. The weather could have been better but I was prepared ... and it is the Highlands after all. Directions to all the B&Bs were excellent ... at the end of a long day, the last thing I wanted was to have difficulty finding my bed!! Thanks for the opportunity to use your services.
Barbara Wilson, Canada, Great Glen Way Self-Guided, 2016
Hi, Thanks for organising a wonderful trip. We hope that you will appreciate some feedback. Overall, the B&B’s met, or exceeded, expectations. Thanks again for what, overall, was a most enjoyable trip.
Richard & Anne, UK, Great Glen Way Self-Guided, 2014
We greatly enjoyed our walk up the Great Glen. Thank you for organising it so efficiently. Everything went smoothly, including the weather which was fantastic - no rain and no midges! All the B&Bs were very welcoming and comfortable, and some were of an exceptionally high standard. There were unexpected little touches. The highlights were a pine martin feeding outside our bedroom window at Fort William, and a small decanter of sherry and fresh baked shortbread by our bedside at Drumnadrochit. Others were an uninterrupted view of Ben Nevis from the breakfast table at Gairlochy and banana bread straight from the oven on our arrival at Invermoriston. It was a very memorable holiday. Thank you.
Hugh and Margaret, UK, Great Glen Way Self-Guided, 2013
Many thanks for providing another well organised and enjoyable walking holiday. All the B&B's were very good, and the route well signed so no problems.
Paul, UK, Great Glen Way Self-Guided, 2012
Just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful service when I did the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way. I had a great time…I have recommended you to a few people…I look forward to booking another walk with you next year.
Chris, UK, West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way Self-Guided, 2011