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Self Guided – The Great Glen Way

  • Traverse Scotland from coast to coast on a rewarding journey through deep glens and past dramatic mountain ranges.
  • Take in the sweeping views across Loch Ness, perhaps catching a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster!
  • Enjoy moderate hiking on good trails as you hike from village to village through this spectacular geological fault line.
  • 7 nights’ accommodation on a Bed and Breakfast basis in Guest Houses, Bed and Breakfasts, Small Hotels and Inns on the route, based on two people sharing a twin or double room
  • Luggage transfer for 1 bag per person for the duration of the trip, meaning you will only have to carry a day rucksack
  • Route notes which include a map and full directions to your accommodation.
  • The services of the Wilderness Scotland Team prior to & during your trip.

Blue Graded Self Guided Holidays 4-6

Self guided Blue graded walking holidays are suitable for fit and experienced hikers. Walking at a good pace you can expect to be out for 6-8 hours a day. You will be following a trail but should understand how to follow a hiking map with at least basic navigation skills. Daily distances will vary – typically up to 20km but may be longer occasionally, or often on the more challenging trips in the grade. Daily hike details are available in the itinerary.

Trail conditions will vary from well laid and maintained sections of gravel track to rough and rocky sections including muddy and wet areas. Short sections may be on tarmac.

ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS

At each stage of your trek we will arrange accommodation for you to stay that night. The accommodations range from small guesthouses, Highland inns, small hotels and bed and breakfast establishments which will be of a 3 or 4 star standard. Our accommodation partners are carefully chosen according to a number of factors – charming locations, very good facilities and a reputation for providing Highland hospitality. We do not use accommodations we have not personally visited.

If you choose the upgraded accommodation option we will reserve the best available accommodation option in each location for you. However, in some areas, accommodation is very limited so the choice is restricted. Where this is the case we will book the best quality room available for you. If you wish to choose upgraded accommodation please call us to book – this is not available online.

Accommodation will be reserved on a Bed & Breakfast basis – lunches and evening meals are not included. Local shops sell sandwiches and snacks for the day ahead. Many guest houses will also be able to provide a packed lunch for you if you ask them the night before. In the evenings, meals can be taken in local restaurants, hotels or bars.

Customer Kudos

Every client receives a feedback survey when they return from their guided, self guided or tailor made holiday with us.

Once completed the review is published on our website just as soon as our database updates. The little touches and details are important to us and where issues are raised we make positive changes to our trips to improve your experience.

That's why we read each of our client's reviews and although we don't respond to all of them, if it's glowing feedback then we get the satisfaction of helping to make your holidays truly memorable.

5 star 56

4 star 5

3 star 1

2 star 0

1 star 0

by Edna Colville 08/10/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Breath taking scenery
Physical challenge
Excellent B and B accommodations
Transfer of luggage was seamless
Itinerary details and instructions were great
Walking times listed for each day were quite accurate
The number of days walking was manageable.
Trip Comments
We had lovely conversations with our B and B hosts. Many of them have done the Great Glen Way or portions of it so their insights were invaluable. The scenery at the summit overlooking Loch Ness was breathtaking. We discussed whether or not to take the high road on both days and we are so glad that we did take the more challenging route.
Accommodation and Food
The B and B accommodations seemed to get nicer each evening. I think because we were walking a little later in the season we were often able to get into our rooms ahead of four o'clock which was nice. We both would have loved more fruit available at breakfast and by the last few days we were a but tired of the Scottish breakfast options. There was always the option of toast and eggs, Etc.
Your Guide
Self guided
The Bottom Line
The entire experience surpassed our expectations. It was well organized and the accommodations were great. We would suggest that more trail markers are along the trail. This woukd make it a bit easier to navigate and also a confirmation that you are indeed on the designated route. Sometimes it would be nice to have a distance marker as well,so you know how much farther your walk will be to your final destination each day. We do acknowledge that this may not be in your power.

by George Pickavet 26/09/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Enjoyed the US 800 number. My only concern is the way the final payment was worded that it was up to me to remember to send it. A reminder would be nice.
Trip Comments
The views and luggage support were perfect. The lodgings were all great, and only one host was terrible. The rest were all very accommodating in every way.
Accommodation and Food
You are doing excellent. Our only ill stay was in Fort Agustus. She was very rude and condescending. Our crime was we missed the front door and walked around the house. Maybe she was just having a bad day, but to be so rude is uncalled for.

TEAM WILDERNESS RESPONSE:
It's great to hear that you had an excellent trip overall and that everything ran smoothly. A shame to hear that one of the hosts was not so welcoming - we will follow up with them to see what happened.
Your Guide
Notes were excellent. We never were lost.
The Bottom Line
We had an excellent trip, and Wilderness Scotland was a key part of this. Thank you for making our trip awesome.

by Rachel Ben Shmuel 24/09/2017

4Pre-Trip Service

2Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

3The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
I would have liked to been notified of when the final payment was due. Otherwise, great communication.
Trip Comments
First, the good parts: the places we stayed were all terrific. Clean, comfortable, nice hosts. Baggage transfer was very smooth.
I didn't like The Great Glen Way. The first two days were hard on the feet and unvarying. It improved after that. I would recommend to anyone to skip the first two days.

But I had described us as experienced walkers who wanted to walk through a remote and challenging area, and The Great Glen Way was suggested. I feel like I didn't do enough research, or would have seen that it wasn't a challenging walk, but it was a poor choice to offer us.

TEAM WILDERNESS RESPONSE:

Thank you for providing this feedback. We are very glad to hear that you enjoyed the accommodations and that the logistics of the trip ran as smoothly as planned.

I am sorry to hear you found this trip easier than hoped; it was recommended based on your asking for a route walking around 10-12 miles per day and a similar level of remoteness to England's Coast to Coast hike which passes mostly through rural countryside rather than wilderness areas. Of the routes we offer this trip best fit those criteria. In our trip dossier we do make available as much information about the route as possible to help inform your choice about which trip is best for you and we welcome any questions or discussion about the routes.

If you do choose to return to Scotland for another hike in future I would suggest the West Highland Way now we know you would like something more challenging and wilder.
Accommodation and Food
Great hosts, lovely places to stay.
Your Guide
Self guided. Notes were fine.
The Bottom Line

by Carol Boyd 19/09/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
We liked the "personal touch" (e.g., a phone call before the trip).
Trip Comments
Accommodation and Food
The B & Bs were wonderful; our host/hostess's could not have been more helpful. Rooms were lovely. It was perfect.
Your Guide
very helpful (one thing that would have made it better: it would have been good to have information about how far a walk it was from the GGW to our B & B.)
The Bottom Line
Fabulous!

by Conrad Stack 18/09/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

4Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

4The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
Trip Comments
Accommodation and Food
Your Guide
The Bottom Line

by Roger Palfree 16/09/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
I always felt a responsive, concerned, personal conversation with Chantal, and later Julie, on any trip-related matter. It was only that before hearing that the bookings had all been lined up at last, the suspense was building and I felt a bit in the dark as to how it might be progressing.
Trip Comments
Too many to list. We took the high routes where there was a choice and enjoyed the changes of terrain and scenery. Meeting a few other hikers and walking a few miles with them, and bumping into some again another day or at the B&B. The fabled midges were encountered just a couple of times briefly, so the Smidge was seldom used. Weather was perfect: changeable! It was cool enough for hiking, cloudy enough for some dramatic skies to complement the land and water, with a few drops of rain once in a while so we felt justified being prepared for it, and sufficient sun to feel on top of the world. Transport service was great. We even had a busking piper piping us into Inverness Castle grounds. Perfect.
Accommodation and Food
B&Bs were excellent. We walked into Spean Bridge, but were kindly taken down to the locks in the morning. We were quite tickled to stay over at the Bank of Scotland in Fort Augustus. We were especially well treated at Kilmore Farmhouse where breakfast included home made bircher and packed lunch included home-baked treats. You have a good line up of B&Bs, or perhaps everyone along the way is marvellous to travellers.
Your Guide
Ours was a self-guided walk. We were especially delighted with the clear descriptions in the dossier and in the route information. I carried the map and Susan carried the route description. We paused for a reading from it periodically, so that we had read it all by the end of the trail. It was a valuable addition to the experience.
The Bottom Line
The Great Glen Way is clearly very well served by all communities along it. Very friendly, helpful, and apparently enjoying living in and sharing one of the the best places on earth for having just the right mix of civilization, amenities, nature and "wilderness" (not quite.like our Canadian wilderness, but more welcoming for the difference).

by Tinsley Webster 10/09/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
David Russell was our adventure consultant, and he was so very helpful. His emails and our phone conversations were always cordial and informative. We also worked with others on the Wilderness Scotland team in advance of our trip. The materials they sent--maps, detailed itineraries--arrived promptly and took all the guesswork out of our travel preparations. A high bar has been set: any vacation-planning company we work with in the future will either be Wilderness Scotland or have to live up to the standard set by Wilderness Scotland. Neither my husband nor I are great planners, but working with Wilderness Scotland meant we didn't have to be! Holidays should always be this effortless!
Trip Comments
After ten years of marriage, my husband and I had resigned ourselves to the fact that we don't travel well together. Normally, we get along swimmingly and are so in sync that we sometimes joke about having the same brain. But add an international flight, a few nights in a hotel, the odd tourist attraction, and we are reduced to miserable wretches. After careful analysis, we've decided the reason: we don't want the same things in a holiday. I like a slow pace, he runs at full throttle; I'm a cautious eater, he'd eat insects off of sticks--the differences abound. This year, we decided to give a shared holiday one final go. Both of us have always wanted to see Scotland, and since we love to hike, I thought it might be fun to try a walking holiday. Neither of us is much good at planning complicated trips, so I was delighted to discover Wilderness Scotland while Googling. Here's a company that arranges everything, from start to finish, and all we'd need to do is get ourselves to Scotland and be sure to pack everything on the handy list we were sent. (A list! It was a propitious start!)

The first night, we stayed in a castle. A *castle.* They gave us complimentary slippers and a million-course meal that was so delicious, I was compelled to abandon my general rule against eating duck. That first night we began a joyous ritual: taking photographs of ourselves in front of windows, atop hill summits, along the shores of lochs, always with the same expression--something between adoration and bafflement. As if we were saying, "Are you kidding me with all this green, Scotland?!" There's a series of shots that show us pointing to every waterfall we saw on the way from Gairlochy to Laggan, and it's clear that we're thinking, "How can there be *this* many waterfalls, Scotland?!" We have several snaps of shaggy Highland cows, surely the greatest animals that ever roamed, and we made up a song in their honor, set to the tune of the Ballad of Paladin. ("Shaggy cow, shaggy cow, where do you graze...")

We ranked our meals at each hotel and B&B and debated which offered the tastiest scones and tea. We ate so much, we worried we wouldn't be able to wear our hiking pants by the time we got to Inverness. We picnicked in our rain gear and outsmarted the midges. We outlined the novel we'll write one day, about a lock-keeper who solves Highland mysteries, and wondered why we never learned to play the bagpipes. We got blisters and didn't care because we were too busy hunting for the elusive pine marten.

This was more than a holiday; it was a revelation. My husband and I discovered that not only can we travel together, we can also have the best holiday of our lives together. I can't help but conclude that Scotland--its vistas, culture, hospitable hosts, feasts, even it's cows--has some kind of bewitching power that can turn the hearts of fractious travelers, so they want nothing more than to love everything and everyone. We were so filled with joy and bonhomie, that by the time we boarded the plane, we wished we were Scots and could stay forever. Since that's unlikely, we're grateful to have our photographs...and about 50 pounds-worth of Highland cow souvenirs...to keep us happy. Thank you, Wilderness Scotland.
Accommodation and Food
I gained five pounds. I was walking 10 miles a day, and I still gained five pounds. There really can't be any improvement on the food. And the produce...I didn't realize that I'd never truly tasted strawberries until I went to Scotland. Is there any way we could have meals shipped overseas to us from Old Pines? Does the Lovat Hotel in Fort Augustus have a scone-of-the-month club? Does Wilderness Scotland offer teleportation from the US to the Rocpool Restaurant in Inverness? I'm gaining weight just remembering all the glorious food.
Your Guide
We didn't have a guide--except the Rucksack Reader and printed instructions on our itinerary, which were both wonderful. Once we figured out that the blue signs denoted the Great Glen Way, we didn't even need instructions on the trail. The only day we wondered if we were on the right path was when we arrived in Fort Augustus. We couldn't quite figure out where the hotel was (The Lovat) from our printed instructions. But I attribute that to feeling famished more than anything else, and besides, it meant we got to sightsee in Fort Augustus. No complaints there. On the whole, the instructions were excellent.
The Bottom Line
We've already told everyone we know to plan their vacation with Wilderness Scotland. Our only disappointment is that we can't hire a Wilderness Scotland adventure consultant to plan our lives for us--we've never been as organized or prepared as we were for this holiday. And we've never experienced such a joyful holiday; we did nothing but walk through the most magnificent countryside, eat the most scrumptious meals, and stay at the most comfortable hotels. Every aspect of the trip was carefully, and thoughtfully arranged. No hitches, no guesswork, no worry. Just sheer delight. As for the Great Glen Way, if we could move into one of the cottages we saw along the way, and never have to worry about immigration laws or leaving our families behind, we would do it. Somewhere on the path overlooking Loch Ness, just outside of Fort Augustus, we decided that Scotland is unequivocally the most beautiful place in all the world. It's highly probable that we may never vacation anywhere else. What would be the point?

by Sue McDermott 29/08/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

5Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
David did a great job on the initial coordination. Chantal was prompt answering questions as the time came closer.
Trip Comments
Accommodation and Food
Great B&B choices!!
Your Guide
Route notes were great. We still managed to take some wrong turns but that was our fault...
The Bottom Line
Loved the trip! We are already planning the next one. We definitely would take a couple of extra days on any route planned.

by Joseph Rayball 29/08/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

5Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

4Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
I think your company displays outstanding customer service skills. There were no issues for us to deal with and everything went smoothly. You provided a lot of information that was valuable to us on our trip.
Trip Comments
We liked The Westhighland Way and the Great Glen Way that we are now planning to return and enjoy your Spayside Way hike.
Accommodation and Food
Some hosts are fantastic hosts. They made us feel welcomed. The food was great because you can't have a bad meal when you are hiking all day. Each breakfast was presented a little differently and that was fun to experience.
Your Guide
Guide note distances did not seem to be accurate. We always added to the estimate because that is what we experienced. There were only two legs that we reached our destination in shorter time than anticipated. Adding street names to the directions to the B&Bs would be helpful.
The Bottom Line
Wilderness Scotland is an outstanding company that reflects the warm and friendly people of Scotland. We are looking forward to a future hiking trip and tailoring it to our itinerary and time frame.

by Elizabeth Bransky 15/08/2017

5Pre-Trip Service

4Trip Comments

5Accommodation and Food

4Your Guide

5The Bottom Line

Pre-Trip Service
David and Julie were great. We had changes as we added a hiker after original arrangements were made and they rose to the occasion. The BnBs were lovely with welcoming hosts all around.
Trip Comments
Very good. Some instructions were a little confusing and would have appreciated notes on mileage left to get to some accommodations. Overall all was good and we had a grand time. Slept well, ate well and very helpful hosts at BnBs.
Accommodation and Food
Very knowledgeable hosts and just lovely accommodations. Food was good all around.
Your Guide
As I stated previously. Some of the end of day notes were a little confusing. More detailed info regarding distances to accommodations were needed in some places. In Drumnadochit we didn't realize we needed to contact ride to and from Blackfold until night before but we got Mr Simpson and he did get things set up for us. Very nice gentleman and his wife picked us up at Blackfold. She was great.
The Bottom Line
We would absolutely recommend Wilderness Scotland to others. We had a great adventure through truly magnificent countryside. We will be carrying these memories with us forever.

Trip Details

The Great Glen Way traverses Scotland from west to east, following the Great Glen fault line which almost splits Scotland in two.

Hiking past some of our most beautiful lochs, including Loch Ness, at 117km the Great Glen Way route is one of Scotland’s finest long distance trails.

The trail begins in Fort William beneath the slopes of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. You will then trek north-east through spectacular scenery and past lochs Lochy, Oich and, of course, Loch Ness. The hike becomes more challenging in its second half as the path takes to the hillsides above the loch, but by then you are well warmed up to the hike. You finish the route in the capital of the Highlands, Inverness.

Extra Nights and Accommodation Upgrades
You also have the option to choose the following upgrades and extra nights:

  • Upgraded accommodation package – we will reserve the best rooms available along the route – £1165 per person
  • Split Day 7 and walk the route over 8 days. The additional charge is £65 per person, £90 per person if using upgraded accommodation
  • Upgraded package plus luxury nights at 5 star Inverlochy Castle and Rocpool Reserve – £1465 per person

Trip Itinerary – Great Glen Way

Day 1 – Arrival in Fort William

Today you’ll make your own way to Fort William where you’ll spend the night at your first guesthouse of the trip. Tomorrow morning the hike begins!

Day 2 – Past Ben Nevis to Gairlochy

The route starts in Fort William and takes you close to Inverlochy Castle, built in the 1200s, then continues to the start of the Caledonian Canal. From here the journey along Scotland’s longest glen and greatest geological fault begins. Following the canal towpath, you travel up Neptune’s Staircase, a ladder of eight locks which give some of the best views of Ben Nevis, and continue along to Gairloch.

Distance: 17km Ascent: 40m

Day 3 – Gairlochy to South Laggan

The second day’s walk sticks fairly closely to the west shore of Loch Lochy. It follows mainly quiet, forest tracks with high mountains rising up 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.

Distance: 19km Ascent: 85m

Day 4 – South Laggan to Fort Augustus

You 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.

Distance: 17km Ascent: 10m

Day 5 – Fort Augustus to Invermoriston

Today you will walk along the west side of the world famous Loch Ness. There are two route options – a high and lower level route. Both are the same overall length but the higher one obviously adds more ascent. It also provides some of the best views of the trip above the forest and the loch, gazing for mile on mile. The higher route is therefore usually preferred, but if you want an easier day you can stay lower down.

Distance: 12km Ascent: 120m (low level option) / 480m (high level option)

Day 6 – Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit

Today you again have the choice of a high or low level route, however this only affects the first part of the day. Either way, there is still a fair amount of ascent today. The high level option climbs a hill beside Drumnadrochit, offering superb views again before descending gradually through forest to rejoin the original route. The low option skirts past this hill through forestry. After the paths rejoin you will pass the tiny hamlet of Bunloit – this marks half way along Loch Ness. From here there is a section along a quiet road before a steep trail descends to Drumnadrochit and day’s end.

Distance: 23km Ascent: 500m (low level option) / 740m (high level option)

Day 7 – Drumnadrochit to Inverness

The final day is a long trek but with straightforward walking on decent trails and a short section of quiet road. After about 4km the route leaves Loch Ness and heads inland, climbing up onto open hillside where you are rewarded with more views down Loch Ness and the Great Glen. You descend gradually through forest as you walk north and meet the River Ness at the edge of Inverness. The last few miles follow the river bank, finishing in the city centre with views across the river to Inverness Castle.

On reaching Inverness, you will have traversed Scotland from coast to coast along its most natural route, the Great Glen Way. On arrival in Inverness, settle into your accommodation then decide whether you need an early night, or if it is time to celebrate your success!

Distance: 29km Ascent: 480m

Day 7 can be split into 2 shorter days with an extra night’s accommodation in Drumnadrochit.

Day 8 – Depart Inverness

After breakfast this morning you can start your journey homeward, though if you have time or wish to add an extra night to your itinerary you may enjoy a look around Inverness before departing. On the way home you’ll have time to look back and reflect on a memorable hike across Scotland.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Total daily distances are given for each stage but will vary slightly as you also need to walk to your accommodation each day which will usually add a short distance.

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Price from: £695

Duration: 7 night(s)

No. of Travellers:   Date:

Location: Multi-Location

Comfort: Classic

Difficulty: 4

62 review(s)

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Trip reviews

Customer Kudos
The entire experience surpassed our expectations. It was well organized and the accommodations were great. We would suggest that more trail markers are along the trail. This woukd make it a bit easier to navigate and also a confirmation that you are indeed on the designated route. Sometimes it would be nice to have a distance marker as well,so you know how much farther your walk will be to your final destination each day. We do acknowledge that this may not be in your power.

Edna Colville
08/10/2017

5

We had an excellent trip, and Wilderness Scotland was a key part of this. Thank you for making our trip awesome.

George Pickavet
26/09/2017

5

Rated 4.89 out of 5 based on 62 review(s) of Self Guided – The Great Glen Way

5 star 56

4 star 5

3 star 1

2 star 0

1 star 0

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