Fort William to Gairlochy is the first part of The Great Glen Way. Close to Fort William high street on the eastern side of the dual carriageway is the official start to the Great Glen Way Walk. From the roundabout you will have found the marker which indicates the start point. Today you will be walking 10.5 miles (17 km) over the course of around 4.5 hours.
Despite the urban setting of the beginning of this walk it will not take long before you are facing one of Britain’s finest natural sights, as you will soon be standing in the shadow of Ben Nevis.
Your first foot forward on the path to Gairlochy will be towards the Morrison’s supermarket and following the signposted path past the McDonald’s restaurant and beyond a small sports pitch which is used for the game of shinty. You will be following the signposts marked with “Great Glen Way” or the symbol of a blue thistle which will be periodically laid out throughout the entire route.
After following the path past a fairly new row of houses, turn left and cross a bridge which links the paths either side of the River Nevis. Now turning left again you will reach a wooded area. When there has been heavy rainfall this area is liable to flood. When it does flood, diversionary signs will be placed to navigate around the excess water.
Following the river you will soon come to a minor road which will lead under the railway line and up onto the “Soldier’s Bridge” which will offer views of the once proud Inverlochy Castle, that has since been left to ruin. Shortly after this point you will get your first glimpses of Ben Nevis reaching skywards noticeably further than the surrounding, and in their own right impressive mountains.
Continue along this path and you will come to a housing estate. Once this has been passed, you will shortly be faced with a stunning view of Loch Linnhe. After following the shore line of the Loch the path crosses a bridge and leads up to the Caledonian Canal. Keep following the path and you will pass under another railway close to the canal and then join a bigger path which once again meets the canal.
Now on the canal path, follow it up the staircase of locks and stay on the path until you reach a gate. Pass through the gate and you will now be beyond the residential areas and into open country side. Continue following the same path which will remain adjacent to the River Lochy for the rest of the days walking.
After crossing an aqueduct with three distinctive arches continue once again alongside the river. After passing the Moy Swing Bridge which was constructed in 1821 you will be only a short distance away from the end of day 1.
Follow the path and you will soon find yourself at your first checkpoint with the days walking completed. There is no shop in this village but there is a campsite and a B&B in the area which can be taken advantage of to recuperate ready for day 2.