Duration: 7 night(s) From £725
Trip created by Rachael Gavan
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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.
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.
Extra Nights and Accommodation Upgrades
You also have the option to choose the following upgrades and extra nights:
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!
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/10.5 miles Ascent: 40m
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/11.5 miles Ascent: 85m
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/10.5 miles Ascent: 10m
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/7.5 miles Ascent: 120m (low level option) / 480m (high level option)
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/14.5 miles Ascent: 500m (low level option) / 740m (high level option)
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/18 miles Ascent: 480m
*Day 7 can be split into 2 shorter days with an extra night’s accommodation in Drumnadrochit.
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.
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.
Rachael is a true gem and we regularly receive feedback thanking her for designing inspiring itineraries and for being such a pleasure to chat to. In many cases the people Rachael designs tailor made trips for, actually become friends and she’s had more than one invite to far off lands as a result. Rachael believes in only the highest levels of customer experience and service.
- Rachael GavanAsk Rachael a Question
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.
Rated 4.88 out of 5 based on 78 review(s) of Self Guided – The Great Glen Way
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.
Reviewed on 04/07/2019
Age: 30 - 40
Trip Date: 17/06/2019
Trips Taken: 1
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Reviewed on 29/06/2019
Age: 60 - 70
Trip Date: 07/06/2019
Trips Taken: 1
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
The route as as scenic as promised, and not at all crowded in mid-June. We like the hotels, especially their restaurants.
We were satisfied, and in some cases more than satisfied. The rooms at the Inch and Loch Ness Inn were quite basic, but the food and service were very good. The owners of the Spean Lodge could not have been more helpful, and we would have liked to spend more time chatting with them. The Inverlochy Castle was a real treat. We ate before we got there because of the dress code described in the information packet, but it turned out they could have lent me a jacket. It would have been helpful for you to provide instructions on how to reach the GGW from the hotel, since the hotel staff did not have any. We decided to walk 2 miles to Old Inverlochy Castle and join the trail there, which worked out very well. We also liked the Glenmoriston Arms and Glengarry Castle a lot.
On our self-guided trip the notes were very helpful, if sometimes a bit vague on directions to hotels. I would not recommend walking from Gairlochy to Spean Bridge after the first day's walk, since it is 3.5 miles, including a 2-mile steady uphill on a narrow winding road with little room to avoid passing cars (there were not many). In a couple of cases the notes suggested reserving a pick-up the day before we needed it, but the transportation companies did not suggest that, except in the case of Blackfold, where phone service is poor. The maps provided were excellent, and we appreciated the detail in the Rucksack Reader WILDERNESS RESPONSE Thank you for your feedback, we'll pass this on. It sounds like you had a wonderful time enjoying the scenery, accommodations and food along the way.
A well-organized trip on a scenic and pleasant route.
Reviewed on 12/06/2019
Age: 70 - 80
Trip Date: 27/05/2019
Trips Taken: 1
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Pre-trip interaction was excellent. Especially appreciated receiving a phone call prior to our departure. Chantal was great.
All good. A few suggestions will follow on a separate page.
All accommodations were very good. Old Pines was a bit wobbly -- small room with very thin walls (but the food was good). Loch Ness Inn in Drumnadrocht was a bit dicey and would be the place we would look to replace if you wanted to change anything.
Route notes were generally good except for the following. 1. There is no red telephone booth anymore at South Laggan. These directions were therefore incorrect. The company that picked us up were very good, but the directions were inaccurate. 2. Getting through Fort Augustus was not easy. This description needs to be worked on more. We didn't have a good idea where the Inch Hotel was and so following the Great Glen Way seemed illogical until we came to realize that the hotel was on the outskirts of town. We used Google Maps to eventually locate the Hotel. 3. The last leg from Drumnadrocht to Inverness was difficult and a little more heads-up on the option of splitting this into two would have been wise. It was mentioned, but almost in passing. An option to suggest would be to book a taxi to take hikers up the hill and cut about five miles off the route (we couldn't do this because the cab was fully booked for the morning). Walking along the highway to start was a drag, also. WILDERNESS SCOTLAND RESPONSE I'm glad that you found the route notes useful in finding your way. Thank you for the feedback - we'll look into this. Completing this hike is a great achievement and it's wonderful that you enjoyed it so much.
Great trip through wonderful land and waterscapes that was made very pleasant by the superior planning and execution of Wilderness Scotland.
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