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Great Glen Way: An epic coast-to-coast across the Highlands

Hugh

Great Glen Way: An epic coast-to-coast across the Highlands

Hiking Collection by Alex Foxfield

6-11

days

3-5 h

/ day

80.9 mi

6,250 ft

6,250 ft

The Great Glen Way is an epic coast-to-coast journey across the Scottish Highlands and along the country's greatest geological fault; past world-famous sights, historic remains, and through some of Britain's finest scenery.

Starting from Fort William, in the shadow of Ben Nevis, the Way travels 79 miles (127 km) along the Great Glen to Inverness on the Moray Firth.

The trail travels along the lengths of Loch Lochy and Loch Oich and then climbs above Loch Ness for enchanting views over the most famous loch in the Glen.

You can see plenty of wildlife along the Way, including the incredibly rare red squirrel, big birds like buzzard and osprey, three species of deer, as well as salmon leaping upstream to breed in October and November.

The Way affords low-level walking for the most part and paths are well-signposted, well-designed, and maintained to a high standard. As such, it is a good choice for anyone new to long-distance hiking.

There are a couple of parts where you can opt for a high route or a low route. As you might expect, high routes are more challenging but much more rewarding.

In this Collection, we split the Great Glen Way into five stages from southwest to northeast, though the opposite way is of equal merit. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple, in isolation.

Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby. However, places to stay are not always abundant so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly.

If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Glasgow railway station, which is served by direct trains from London, Manchester, and Birmingham, and has connecting services around the UK. From Glasgow, you can catch a direct train to Fort William.

To get home, you can catch a train from Inverness, which has direct trains to Glasgow and Edinburgh and has connecting services around the UK.

If you are planning to arrive by car, your best bet is to negotiate with a hotel or B&B a rate to stay for a night either side of your hike in Fort William. Alternatively, you could find long stay parking in Glasgow. Public transport links are good between Glasgow, Fort William and Inverness. To get back, you can catch a train from Inverness to Fort William, usually with transfer at Glasgow.

For more information about the Great Glen Way, visit: highland.gov.uk/greatglenway.

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Great Glen Way

74.0 mi

5,800 ft

5,750 ft

Last updated: June 20, 2022

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Fort William to Gairlochy – Great Glen Way

    Difficult
    05:12
    12.7 mi
    2.4 mph
    225 ft
    150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You begin this epic journey along the Great Glen in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain.

    

    From Fort William, the trail passes the Jacobite Steam Train station, made famous in the Harry Potter films as the Hogwarts Express, and onto Inverlochy Castle, which was founded in the 13th century

    by Alex Foxfield

    View
  • Difficult
    07:54
    18.5 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,000 ft
    900 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage takes you along the length of Loch Lochy, one of three major lochs in the Great Glen.

    

    From Gairlochy, you follow the road around the southwestern end of the loch before descending to the lochside.

    

    You rejoin the road near Achnacarry, where you find St Ciaran's, a serene church nestled amidst

    by Alex Foxfield

    View
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  • Difficult
    07:22
    16.5 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,500 ft
    1,575 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Taking you from smallest loch in the Great Glen, Loch Oich, to the most famous, Loch Ness, the Way’s character really begins to shine on this stage.

    

    From Invergarry, you continue above Loch Oich for its remaining length and then descend to the Caledonian Canal at the Aberchalder Swing Bridge.

    

    You then

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    06:38
    14.1 mi
    2.1 mph
    2,000 ft
    2,075 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You are faced with another choice of high or low route at the beginning of this stage.

    

    The high route from Invermoriston involves around 625 feet (191 m) of extra ascent, but is worth it as you are treated to some of the best Loch Ness views going.

    

    It is a sharp and winding climb out of Invermoriston to

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    08:27
    19.2 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,525 ft
    1,575 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage provides the biggest challenge of the entire trail and will push your fitness and stamina to the max.

    

    With 19 miles (31 km) to cover and 1,475 feet (450 m) of ascent to contend with, this stage will be a real test of your mettle. For details on how to split the route, see below.

    

    From Drumnadrochit

    by Alex Foxfield

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    5
  • Distance
    80.9 mi
  • Duration
    35:32 h
  • Elevation
    6,250 ft6,250 ft

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