The Great Glen Way Starts in Fort William, and is only a short distance from the end of the West Highland Way, this 79 mile (127 km) walk to Inverness is one of Scotland’s most popular. This path to Inverness will take you on a journey through the sensational sites of the highlands, from the great Ben Nevis, past numerous picturesque lochs, alongside the Caledonian canal, through dense woodland, and past the world famous Loch Ness before reaching Inverness itself.
The route is typically completed over 5 to 6 days and is a relatively flat and steady walk with the exception of the last 18 miles (29 km) which does contain some steep slopes. However, on the whole the route is easily accessible and its completion is considered to be achievable by almost any standard of walker.
The Great Glen Way is normally taken on from Fort William to Inverness (West to East) to allow walkers to travel with the wind, which virtually always blows in this direction. However, there is nothing to stop anyone from doing the walk from east to west should that be more convenient or desirable.
From its beginning at Loch Linnhe, which opens out to join the Atlantic Ocean, the path follows the Great Glen Fault and shadows the path of the Caledonian Canal all the way to within 2 miles of the North Sea. This helps add more appeal to the walk in its capacity as a coast to coast trek.
Great Glen Way Way 6 Day Plan
|EST TIME||4.5 hours||5 hours||4.5 hours||3 hours||6 hours||7.5 hours|
|DISTANCE||10.5 miles/ |
|12 miles/ |
|10.5 miles/ |
|7.5 miles/ |
|14.6 miles/ |
|18 miles/ |
The Great Glen Way is well served at both the beginning and the end by bus, rail and ample car parking.
By Car- To get to Inverness from Glasgow or Edinburgh will take approximately 3 hours by car. To Fort William it will take around 3 hours from Edinburgh, and 2½ hours from Glasgow.
Both Fort William and Inverness are well geared up for tourists and there are plenty of parking spaces available. It is worth noting that many of these will involve a charge although it is possible to find free parking sites. It is normal for car parks to charge a small fee during peak season and be free for the rest of the year.
By Train or bus- Both modes of transport regularly visit both ends of the walk from the major towns and cities of Scotland. Buses can often be much cheaper than trains and some great deals can be found from Glasgow or Edinburgh to Inverness and vice versa. The Great Glen Way also runs along the route of the A82 which has regular bus services running in both directions.
Cycling- The Great Glen Way can be cycled which typically takes around 2-3 days. However, for a more extreme method of getting to the start of this walk. Glasgow to Fort William can be cycled in around 13-14 hours, although this would certainly not be for the faint hearted.
Walking- Although this could seem like a joke, some people do opt for walking to Fort William and the start of the Great Glen Way. This generally involves a 7-8 day walk from the Glasgow area via the West Highland Way. However, tackling both walks back to back will require a strong physical ability and plenty of endurance. The decision should not be taken lightly and it could be wise to plan in a couple of days of rest between walks.
The final stage of the walk from Drumnadrochit to Inverness has some steep climbs which can be challenging when coupled with the relatively long distance covered on the final section of the 6 day plan. Other than this, the entire route is very well signposted, relatively flat and over a well maintained path from start to finish.
This walk will be well within the capabilities of the vast majority of walkers, with only the final section causing any kind of obstacle. This ensures that the Great Glen Way’s travellers will be able to spend the duration of the journey enjoying the incredible surroundings which adorn this part of the world.
If this does not seem like enough of a challenge, then the difficulty level can be easily increased. By reducing the timescale from 6 to 3 days the average distance required to be travelled each day will jump from 13 miles (21 km) to 26.3 miles (42 km), which means travelling almost the distance of a marathon each day. Again this should not be undertaken without careful consideration. To highlight the difficulty of finishing the walk in this timescale, many cyclists will only attempt to complete this route in 3 days.
Owing to the Great Glen Way’s popularity, accommodation in various forms is easily found throughout the 79 mile length of this route. Fort William is a popular tourist attraction itself and has a very good variety of accommodation and Inverness is “the capital of the highlands”, with the range and quality of accommodation you would expect to be associated with such a title.
Where you will be resting your head each night should be a major consideration when planning your trip.
If you intend to camp each night there are a number of factors to consider, such as:
- Will you be booking into campsites in advance, or camping wild at the end of your days walk?
- Both have pro’s and con’s with campsites offering better facilities but wild camping offering the flexibility of changing the days planned distances as required.
- It is worth considering the extra weight of a tent and sleeping bag, and the effect that could have as the day’s move on.
- Accommodation costs will be kept low.
- Time of year, how cold will it be outside? Is your comfort likely to be affected?
For a B&B or hotel there are also pro’s and con’s to take into account:
- Daily accommodation costs will be relatively high.
- In areas establishments might be sparse. This will limit your choices and could impact your plans. For example, you may need to walk longer, or less in a given day than you wanted to, in order to reach your planned accommodation.
- A night in a bed, joined with a shower or bath and a cooked dinner and breakfast can work wonders on aching joints and beating the cold.
- Setting up and then dismantling a temporary home each day will not be required.
- Day pack weight will be significantly reduced when compared to a camper.
The main factors which dictate accommodation choice are normally cost and the weather. However, each individual will have their own preferences and reasons for opting for one or the other.
The highlands are renowned for their very changeable and often poor weather conditions. Bags should be packed accordingly and include waterproof clothing and spare clothes with clean, dry socks being a priority.
This path which offers natural beauty from start to finish has rightly become a favourite amongst the many wonderful walks on offer throughout Scotland. Along this route there are many iconic sites to see with some highlights being; Ben Nevis, Loch Ness and the bright lights of Inverness.