Walking Scotland’s Great Glen Way to Loch Ness - Fauna Travel

Walking Scotland’s Great Glen Way to Loch Ness

Great Glen Way Near Fort Augustus / Eamonn Wang / Unsplash

8 Days

The UK is famous for long paths crisscrossing the countryside, enabling you to walk from inn to inn while you explore quaint towns and gorgeous landscapes. Because of the lower elevation, most of these trails aren’t as difficult as tackling North America’s famous trails. However, they do require enough endurance to walk many miles a day for a week or more. We love making epic adventure accessible to everyone, so we created this abbreviated walking itinerary along one of Scotland’s most famous routes.

We love making epic adventure accessible to everyone, so we created this abbreviated walking itinerary along one of Scotland’s most famous routes.

The Great Glen Way follows the rift valley for 73 miles between Fort William and Inverness along the shores of canals and lochs through the Scottish Highlands. This itinerary includes three days of walking on the most accessible part of the trail, which follows the Caledonian Canal. The elevation change is extremely low, making it suitable for people who can do long but easy walks. If you are an adventurer, it is even navigable by an all-terrain wheelchair or jogging stroller. Because the second half of the Great Glen Way is the most difficult, we’ve replaced it with an exciting boat ride across Loch Ness.

The best time of year to do this trip is between April and October. However, the weather in Scotland is famously unpredictable. Even in high of summer, you should be prepared for rain.

Day 2: Fort William

Hotel: Inverlochy Castle

Arrive in the UK at London, Edinburgh, or Glasgow International Airport. Depending on your arrival time, you may want to stay overnight in the city or continue to Fort William. Fort William, located in western Scotland, is a picturesque town renowned for its natural beauty and is known as the “Outdoor Capitol of the UK.” Nestled at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak, the town is the primary gateway for hikers exploring the Highlands.

Inverlochy Castle Hotel / Courtesy of Inverlochy Castle Hotel
Inverlochy Castle Hotel / Courtesy of Inverlochy Castle Hotel

We suggest a dramatic first night of your trip at Inverlochy Castle Hotel north of town. The Victorian Castle has luxurious accommodations on a large estate so that you can recover from your long journey. We suggest two nights here if you’d like to explore the town, play golf, or go fishing. Otherwise, you can rest up for a day of walking ahead.

Day 3: Start the Great Glen Way

Hotel: Local Bed and Breakfast

Neptune's Staircase, Caledonian Canal / Frank / Unsplash
Neptune’s Staircase, Caledonian Canal / Frank / Unsplash

After breakfast, a drive will drop you at Fort William, near the other Inverlochy Castle, constructed in the 13th century, and where you will walk to the start of the Caledonian Canal. This marks the beginning of an adventure through Scotland’s longest glen and most significant geological fault. Traveling along the canal towpath, you will ascend Neptune’s Staircase, an impressive series of eight locks providing spectacular views of Ben Nevis, before continuing to Gairlochy. Stay at a local inn or bed and breakfast for the night.

Walk Details: 10.5 miles | 132ft elevation

Day 4: Gairlochy to South Laggan

Hotel: Local Bed and Breakfast

Loch Lochy / Eric Veiga / Unsplash
Loch Lochy / Eric Veiga / Unsplash

The second day’s walk sticks fairly closely to the west shore of Loch Lochy. It follows mainly quiet forest tracks with high mountains on both sides of the loch, offering fine views. By the time you reach your accommodation, you will have hiked the length of Loch Lochy. Again, stay at a local inn or bed and breakfast for the night.

Walk Details: 11.5 miles | 280ft elevation

Day 5: South Laggan to Fort Augustus

Hotel: Local Bed and Breakfast

Hike along the east shore of Loch Oich, joining the famous Caledonian Canal at the north end of the Loch. This is one of the easier days on the trail, so take your time and enjoy the scenery. After leaving Loch Oich behind, you follow the canal to Fort Augustus at the southern end of Loch Ness, which stretches into the distance in front of you. Settle in at a local bed and breakfast for the night.

Walk Details: 10.5 miles | 33ft elevation

Day 6: Loch Ness to Inverness

Hotel: The Balmoral

The Great Glen Way stretches another 40 miles and three days walking along the shore of Loch Ness. We can coordinate the remainder of the hike, but the terrain becomes more difficult from here. In the name of accessibility and timing, we’ve found an alternate way to finish this trip. After breakfast, a speed boat will pick you up at the Fort Augustus harbor to ferry you across the famous loch to Inverness. You’ll get a great view of the water on your hour-long trip.

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness / Ramon Loon / Unsplash
Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness / Ramon Loon / Unsplash

Upon arrival in Inverness, you can relax for the afternoon and explore churches and castles or catch the afternoon train to Edinburgh. The luxurious Balmoral would make a fitting place to relax after your long adventure.

Day 7: Edinburgh

The Balmoral / Courtesy of The Balmoral
The Balmoral / Courtesy of The Balmoral

Spend your last day exploring Edinburgh. You can visit the historic Edinburgh Castle, perched atop Castle Rock, with panoramic views of the city, and stroll along the Royal Mile, lined with charming shops, restaurants, and local landmarks.

Day 8: Departure

Fly out of Edinburgh or travel elsewhere in the UK for further adventures. We love to spend a couple of days dining, shopping, and visiting museums in London.

Contact us to start planning your journey into the wild.

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