Stretching 73 miles from Inverness in the east to Fort William in the west, the Great Glen Way cuts through the heart of the Highlands. It offers visitors one of the finest and most dramatic walks in the country. Sweeping through valleys, around lochs and -should you wish it – up munros, it offers a fantastic introduction the long distance walking and the Scottish countryside.
Walking the Great Glen Way
If you are looking to start long-distance walking, then the Great Glen Way is one of the best introductions to it. Suitable for beginners, it can take between 4-7 days to walk. Even for more experienced walkers, it’s a great trail because you can add in excursions up munros should you wish. Of all the Highland walking routes, this one is suitable for all.
The Great Glen Way follows the Great Glen. This is a geological fault line that cuts diagonally through Scotland. Don’t worry – there won’t be any earthquakes to ruin your trip! The route was opened in 2002, and has seen hundreds of thousands of people use it since then. Most people walk along sections of it, but a significant proportion take up the challenge of walking the whole route.
Most of the route traces the path of the Caledonian Canal, and you can visit all 29 locks and 10 swing bridges. The length also includes some of the most beautiful bodies of water in the UK – Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, Loch Dochfour and Loch Ness. Cycling he Great Glen Way is also possible, and a popular thing to do for hundreds of people each year.
Some of the route takes you up into Scottish woodland, meaning the variety of wildlife along the trail can be huge. From red squirrels to otters, ospreys to golden eagles – if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of some of Scotland’s most legendary wildlife.
Highlights of the walk
Walking the Highlands means you will get to see many fascinating spots. If you are planning on walking the route to or from Fort William, you will come across Neptune’s Staircase. This marvel of engineering raises the canal 19 metres over a quarter of a mile. There are eight locks altogether, and it takes a canal boat an hour and a half to traverse them all. This is a brilliant place to stop a while and take it all in.
Invergarry Castle, on the shore of Loch Oich, is another great place to visit thanks to its tumultuous history. Initially the seat of the Chiefs of the Clan MacDonell of Glengarry, it was burned down in 1654 by Oliver Cromwell’s troops during the Civil War. It was also twce visited by Bonnie Prince Charlie. The castle now stands as a ruin and scheduled monument in the grounds of Glencarry Castle Hotel.
Close to Inverness, make sure you visit Urquhart Castle too. It’s one of the most visited spots by the loch, and quite rightly too. It also makes for a great lookout spot for Nessie!
Enjoying the Great Glen Way
If walking isn’t your thing but water is, then the Great Glen canoe trail might be what you are after. It is an opportunity to see the route from a different perspective, and enjoy some relaxing time on the canal. However you enjoy the Great Glen Way, make sure you take your camera and let us see your photos on our social media pages!