Great Glen Way

Background Information

The 76-mile long Great Glen Way opened in 2002 as Scotland's fourth Long Distance Route. It follows the massive fault of the Great Glen from Fort William in the southwest to Inverness in the northeast, passing three major lochs on the way.

It is a walk of two halves; the southern half between Fort William and Fort Augustus is generally flat and follows the towpath of the Caledonian Canal alongside the River Lochy. It then follows forest tracks alongside Loch Lochy and Loch Oich, before a final stretch of canal leads to a staircase of locks that leads down into Fort Augustus.

The second half of the trail runs from Fort Augustus to Inverness. This is very different in character and involves some significant climbs through the wooded hillsides on the northern side of Loch Ness, with dips down to reach the villages of Invermoriston and Drumnadrochit. A final climb and descent leads down to Inverness, meeting the Caledonian Canal once more before reaching the end of the trail in the grounds of Inverness Castle.

Unusually this trail has an ally in the form of a kayaking route called the Great Glen Canoe Trail, which allows people to use the Caledonian Canal and the lochs to paddle between the two towns.

A flooded footbridge.

Map of the trail

Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please send me have comments you may have on what you think of this new format.

List of legs

LegDistance (miles)Ascent (feet)Descent (feet)Difficulty
Fort William to Gairlochy10.6394299easy
Gairlochy to Clunes4.3358305easy
Clunes to Laggan Locks7.6778817easy
Laggan Locks to Oich Bridge6692696easy
Oich Bridge to Fort Augustus4.93979easy
Fort Augustus to Invermoriston9.517451677medium
Invermoriston to Grotaig9.628182333medium
Grotaig to Drumnadrochit5.3331860easy
Drumnadrochit to Caiplich81841948hard
Caiplich to Leachkin7.9302981easy
Leachkin to Inverness Castle3.382351easy

Further information (books)

The following books detail the Great Glen Way.

Further information (websites)

The following websites detail the trail:


Walkers along the Great Glen Way are blessed by the fact that the Great Glen carries the A82(T), the main link between the western and eastern highlands. As such it has frequent and useful bus services.

Citylink offers several coach services (917, 918 & 919) a day between Fort William and Inverness, which calls at the villages on the A82(T) on the way. This is the service that will probably be of most use people.

The only problem occurs at the northern end of the trail between Drumnadrochit and Inverness, where the trail heads through the hills away from the road.

Map information

1:25,000 maps

Explorer 399 (Loch Akraig, Fort William and Corpach)  Explorer 400 (Loch Lochy and Glen Roy)  Explorer 416 (Inverness, Loch Ness & Culloden)  Explorer 431 (Glen Urquhart & Strathglass)  

1:50,000 maps

Landranger 41 (Ben Nevis, Fort William & Glen Coe)  Landranger 34 (Fort Augustus, Glen Albyn & Glen Roy)  Landranger 26 (Inverness & Loch Ness)  

Suggested schedules

The following schedules are advisory. They indicate various ways that the trail can be split up into walks of several lengths, with convenient end-points for each day's walk.

Naturally, you may want to alter this according to whether you are staying in B&B's, hostels, camping or are doing the walk in sections and are relying on public transport. Your own walk will probably vary from the itineraries shown below.

Night   Leisurely   Good   Fast
PlaceDistance (m)PlaceDistance (m)PlaceDistance (m)
0Fort William Fort William Fort William 
1Gairlochy10.6Clunes14.9Laggan Locks22.5
2Laggan Locks11.9Oich Bridge13.6Invermoriston20.4
3Fort Augustus10.9Invermoriston14.4Drumnadrochit14.9
4Invermoriston9.5Drumnadrochit14.9Inverness Castle19.2
5Grotaig9.6Inverness Castle19.2
7Inverness Castle11.2

The Great Glen Way is far from being a hard trail; despite this it is a very rewarding walk that can reward both a quick sprint and a leisurely stroll. Unusually for a Scottish trail, the transport links are also rather good, making it easy to complete in day walks.

Tourist Information

There are four tourist information offices on or near the Great Glen Way:

  • Fort William. Cameron Centre, Cameron Square, Fort William, PH33 6AJ. Telephone 01397 703781
  • Fort Augustus. Canalside, Fort Augustus, Inverness-shire, PH32 4DD. Telephone 01320 366367
  • Drumnadrochit / Loch Ness. The village car park, Drumnadrochit, IV63 6TX. Telephone 01456 459086
  • Inverness. Castle Wynd, Inverness, IV2 3BJ. Telephone 01463 252401

When to walk

The Great Glen Way is a relatively low-level trail that, with one exception, does not climb particularly high. It should therefore be able to be walked through most of the year However it should be noted that much accommodation is shut during the winter months. Most people appear to walk the trail between April and September.