Duration: 7 night(s) From £870
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 4.89 out of 5 based on 84 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 31/10/2019
Age: 60 - 70
Country: United States
Trip Date: 18/10/2019
Trips Taken: 1
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Chantal was extremely helpful in answering my questions prior to the trip, and the U.S. 800 number made contacting you straightforward.
The walk was filled with varied types of scenery, each of which was enjoyable in its own way. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, with only one day of serious rain during our walk on the high road to Invermoriston, but the views were spectacular and made up for any discomfort. I would like to share a discovery I made on that leg of the hike, however, which is that apparently "waterproof" jackets need to be re-treated with a DWR spray after several years of wear, or else they lose their ability to repel water: I got soaked. The views on the second high road hike to Drumnadrochit were also amazing, probably my favorite day of the trip. The countryside was lovely throughout, with an amazing assortment of heather, ferns, trees, bushes, etc. Lots of sheep, but didn't get to see any highland cattle (or Nessie) unfortunately. I used a pair of support insoles (Superfeet, Trailblazers) inside my hiking shoes, which helped greatly during some of the hikes across astonishingly hard path surfaces (e.g., the towpath leading into S. Laggan ... what was that made of?). A small detail one might wish to know is that the 3 miles from Gairlochy to Spean Bridge (after the 10.5 miles from Fort William) has an ascent of maybe 100 meters on a less-than-pleasant road, so in retrospect the option of being picked up and transported by car for that section might have been preferable. Overall, this was a beautiful and exhilarating hike which became more interesting day by day as we approached Inverness.
We stayed at seven establishments during our hike, and three of them were exceptional. Our favorite was the Kilmore Farmhouse in Drumnadrochit, where Angie was our amazing, thoughtful hostess and the facilities were excellent. Similarly superb hospitality and services were provided at the Forest Lodge Guest House (S. Laggan) and the Bracarina House (Invermoriston), both of which we enjoyed immensely. The start and finish of our journey we stayed at perfectly acceptable establishments (Nevis Bank Inn and Eskdale Guest House), where the facilities were good but not exceptional. I would have liked to credit Coire Glas in Spean Bridge more highly, and certainly the potential is there, but our experience was marred by some problem with their electrical system that caused us to lose power (and lighting) in the bathroom. Shaving and showering by flashlight (which we fortunately had brought along) was frustrating to say the least. WiFi did not extend to our room, the bathroom door jammed against the floor when you tried to open it, resulting in some seriously stubbed toes, and the toilet did not flush properly. If these problems could be straightened out, their establishment would have been more toward the top of our list. Finally, in Ft. Augustus we stayed at Sonas, which is in serious need of an update. The hosts mean well I believe, but a significant investment in improving their accommodations needs to take place. WILDERNESS RESPONSE We really value your detailed feedback and we've followed up on this to benefit future travellers.
We did not have a guide, so can't comment on that. The route notes were adequate, but we supplemented them with a number of selections from the recommended reading list, and these proved to be more useful.
Everything proceeded smoothly through all aspects of our trip, no surprises, which is exactly what one would desire. The luggage transfers were handled perfectly, and the car transfer by Caroline from/to Blackfold occurred exactly as expected. I would not hesitate to use Wilderness Scotland again to plan another hike. WILDERNESS RESPONSE Thanks for your enthusiastic feedback - we're really delighted you guys had such a good time and we hope you'll come and visit Scotland with us again some day!
Reviewed on 21/10/2019
Age: 70 - 80
Country: United Kingdom
Trip Date: 30/09/2019
Trips Taken: 1
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Reviewed on 11/10/2019
Age: 50 - 60
Trip Date: 29/09/2019
Trips Taken: 1
Accommodation & Food
The Bottom Line
Chantal was extremely helpful