A Guide to Walking the Great Glen Way in Scotland (With Map)!

Walking the Great Glen Way was one of my favourite experiences in Scotland to date. Although not the most famous of the country’s long-distance trails, the scenery is breathtaking and the path is much quieter than on its more popular brother, the West Highland Way. 

If you’re planning on walking the Great Glen Way, this article will tell you everything you need to know, from suggested itineraries to the best time to walk the trail. Lace up your walking boots, we’re going on an adventure!

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  • Camping on the Great Glen Way
  • Accommodation on the Great Glen Way
  • Great Glen Way vs West Highland Way

Walking the Great Glen Way: Everything You Need to Know

The Great Glen Way Route Map

Great Glen Way Itinerary

The Great Glen Way travels the length of the Great Glen, beginning in Fort William and ending at Inverness Castle. It stretches 73 miles (118.5km) and can be cycled, walked or canoed. For the purposes of this article, I’ll be talking about walking the Great Glen Way. 

6-Day Great Glen Way Itinerary 

Day 1: Fort William to Gairlochy (10.5 miles)

  • Difficulty: Easy (made harder by monotonous terrain)
  • Highlights: Views of Ben Nevis, Neptune’s Staircase and Moy Swing Bridge.
  • Facilities: Accommodation at Fort William, Spean Bridge and Gairlochy. A campsite is located in Torness and wild camping is readily available. Toilets (key holders only) at canal locks. 
  • Suggested accommodation: Myrtle Bank Guesthouse (Fort William), Dreamweavers B&B (Gairlochy). 

Day 2: Gairlochy to Laggan (11.75 miles)

  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Highlights: Loch Lochy, Eas Chia-aig Waterfall.
  • Facilities: Accommodation available at Invergarry and Laggan. Budget-friendly floating gastropub at Laggan Locks which should not be missed! 
  • Suggested accommodation: Invergarry Hotel (Invergarry) and Great Glen Hostel (Laggan).
Gastropub
Is there anything more welcome than a pint in the sun after a day of hiking?

Day 3: Laggan to Fort Augustus (10.5 miles)

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Views of Loch Lochy Munros, Laggan swing bridge, Aberchalder Swing Bridge, Fort Augustus. Refreshments are available at Fort Augustus. 
  • Facilities: Accommodation, shops, restaurants and public toilets at Fort Augustus. 
  • Suggested accommodation: Lorien House and White House B&B (Fort Augustus). 

Day 4: Fort Augustus to Invermoriston (8 miles)

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Allt na Criche forestry walk, Loch Ness, Invermoriston Falls. 
  • Facilities: Accommodation and cafes in Invermoriston. There is no shop or public toilets in Invermoriston. 
  • Suggested accommodation: Glenmoriston Arms Hostel (Invermoriston). 

Important: There is a choice of routes to take from Fort Augustus to Invermoriston. Both the high route and the low route span the same distance but the latter is easier. Around November, the low route is often closed for timber harvesting. In this instance, the high route must be used as the alternative. 

Day 5: Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit (13.75 miles)

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Highlights: Views over Loch Ness, stone cave, potential to spot birds of prey as you enter Drumnadrochit. 
  • Facilities: Limited accommodation alongside Loch Ness. Hotels and B&B’s are plentiful in Drumnadrochit. Public toilets in Drumnadrochit as well as shops and restaurants. 
  • Suggested accommodation: Lochside Hostel (Loch Ness) and Woodlands Bed & Breakfast (Drumnadrochit).
Lochside Hostel
The beautiful Lochside Hostel.

Note: There is both a low route and a high route out of Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit. 

Day 6: Drumnadrochit to Inverness (19 miles)

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Highlights: Urquhart Castle, Abriachan Forest, views of the Cairngorms and eventually, Inverness. The route goes through Ness Islands before ending at Inverness Castle. 
  • Facilities: Toilets at Abriachan Forest. Wild camping is notoriously difficult in this area. Campsite and cafe at Tomachoin. Accommodation available in Inverness, along with shops and restaurants. 
  • Suggested accommodation: Bazpackers Hostel and Bluebell House (Inverness). 

7-Day Great Glen Way Itinerary 

The 7-day Great Glen Way itinerary follows the first five stages of the 6-day itinerary exactly. Things only alter when you come to days 6 and 7. 

Day 6: Drumnadrochit to Loch Laide (8 miles)

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Highlights: Urquhart Castle, Abriachan Forest and views of the Cairngorms.
  • Facilities: Toilets at Abriachan Forest. Wild camping is notoriously difficult in this area. Campsite in Wester Laide. 
  • Suggested accommodation: Abriachan Campsite (Wester Laide). 

Day 7: Loch Laide to Inverness (11 miles)

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Highlights: Ness Islands, finish point at Inverness Castle. 
  • Facilities: Campsite and cafe at Tomachoin. Accommodation available in Inverness, along with shops and restaurants.
  • Suggested accommodation: Bazpackers Hostel and Bluebell House (Inverness). 
Couple at Inverness Castle
Arriving at the finish point of the Great Glen Way.

Practical Information for Walking the Great Glen Way 

When is the best time to hike the Great Glen Way? 

Spring and autumn are touted to be the best times of year to walk the Great Glen Way. Scotland’s famous midges are fewer during these seasons and the trail is less crowded. It is also wonderful to see the changing colours of the leaves during autumn. 

It is possible to walk the Great Glen Way during winter, however, the low route between Fort Augustus and Invermoriston is closed for 11 weeks from the start of November. As the route is mostly at a low level, it is more suited for winter walking than the West Highland Way

How difficult is the Great Glen Way?

The Great Glen Way is a great long-distance trail for beginners. It is pretty easy as Scottish trails go and it is only the latter couple of days that involve steep ascent or descent. Generally, the path is undulating and shouldn’t pose too many challenges for most walkers. 

The main difficulty with walking the Great Glen Way is the monotonous nature of the canal walking for the first few days. The trail is maintained to serve cyclists too, meaning concrete paths are a frequent feature of the route. These can be very hard on the soles of the feet and the joints. 

Where can I camp on the Great Glen Way?

The Caledonian Canal is considered to be a ‘Scheduled Monument‘, meaning that wild camping is prohibited along its length. As the GGW follows the canal for a huge part of its journey, designated ‘wild’ camp spots have been allocated for use. These operate on a first-come-first-served basis. 

Camping on the Great Glen Way
There are plenty of places to camp en route.

Outside of the Caledonian Canal, you can wild camp pretty much anywhere. As always, be mindful of leave no trace policies. Organised campsites are also available along the route. For more information, see camping on the Great Glen Way. 

Can I stay in hotels along the Great Glen Way?

There are a number of hotel and hostel options along the Great Glen Way which offer accommodation for walkers. These cater for most budgets too, offering backpacker-friendly digs and more luxurious hotels. If you don’t want to camp, you can do the entirety of the hike staying in hotels and guesthouses. 

Are there toilets along the Great Glen Way? 

Toilets are available along the Great Glen Way but there are parts of the trail where there are none. Public toilets are available in most of the towns, especially the more touristy places such as Fort Augustus and Fort William. Look out for composting toilets in the forested areas. 

It is well worth renting a toilet key from the Scottish Canals Association before you start the hike as this will give you access to their toilet and shower facilities en route. A key costs £10 per person and must be returned at the end of the trail. If you forget to return your key before you head home, you can send it back to the Canal office by post. 

Getting to and from the Great Glen Way 

Generally, the Great Glen Way is walked from Fort William to Inverness. In Fort William, it is possible to leave your car in West End Car Park using a long-stay permit for just £10. These can be reserved in advance online. Buses run to Inverness from Fort William in case you want to walk the route in reverse. 

Have you walked the Great Glen Way? Let me know how your hike went in the comments!

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