Great Glen Way

The Scottish Highlands is a region of mist-shrouded emerald glens, vibrant and bloody history, and mysterious monsters that are thought to lie within the depths of the loch. Endless sagas and legends have been inspired by the Highland’s stunning geography, fascinating culture, and unique architecture.

Great Glen Way & Loch Ness Short Break

Self-guided

Discover the best trails along the Great Glen Way. Start on the banks of Loch Ness in the charming village of Fort Augustus and end in the highland capital at Inverness Castle.

Self-guided 5 Days From $855 Easy to Moderate What's Included

Great Glen Way & Loch Ness Short Break

BACK
What's Included
  • 4 nights accommodation in 3* hotels & guest houses
  • All luggage transfers
  • 4 breakfasts
  • Maps, guidebook and route summary
  • Flexible itinerary to add or remove days
  • Upgrade to a gastronomic guest house in Spean Bridge
  • 24/7 telephone support
  • Walk from Loch Ness to the historic Inverness Castle
  • Hike through ancient forests and along hillside trails above Loch Ness
  • Make a visit to the ancient remains of Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness

Great Glen Way to Loch Ness

Self-guided

Walk from Scotland’s west to east coast along the Great Glen Way. Discover feats of Victorian engineering, stay in traditional inns and walk along the banks of Loch Ness.

Self-guided 8 Days From $1295 Easy to Moderate What's Included

Great Glen Way to Loch Ness

BACK
What's Included
  • 7 nights accommodation in 3*, 4* hotels & guest houses
  • All luggage transfers
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Maps, guidebook and route summary
  • Flexible itinerary to add or remove days
  • Upgrade to a gastronomic guest house in Spean Bridge
  • 24/7 telephone support
  • Walk from Scotland’s west to east coast along the Great Glen Way
  • Walk along the Caledonian Canal to the Highland capital, Inverness
  • Hike through ancient forests and across rugged hillside above Loch Ness

OVERVIEW

The Great Glen Way extends for 127km and starts in the charming city of Fort William. You will traverse along the towpaths of the Caledonian Canal, beside Loch Ness, and through remote glen tracks until you reach the city of Inverness. Golden eagles can be spotted soaring high overhead while you might be lucky enough to spot relaxing along the beaches of the tiny islands that dot the lochs. You will be able to tour centuries-old castles, watch boats cruise along the canal, and visit tiny towns that are the backbone of the Scottish countryside lifestyle.

You will have the opportunity to stay in charming accommodations run by local people that will welcome you with open arms. Also, if you are brave, you can venture into the realm of traditional Scottish cuisine! Fantastic locally produced varieties of beer, whisky, and other alcoholic goodies are waiting for you.

This walking holiday will open your senses to the natural world, your taste buds to delicious food, and your mind to the fascinating tales that make Scotland incredibly unique.

history

The Great Glen Way officially opened on April 30th, 2002. This spectacular trail extends 127km across the gorgeous landscape of the Scottish Highlands all the way from Inverness to Fort William. Along the path, as a part of the Great Glen Ways Project, there are fifty carefully-placed information panels that teach walkers not only about the environment but also about the history, folklore, forest management, and archaeology of this beautiful path.

The Scottish Highlands are considered romantic and magical, but it has a dark foundation in history. Battles amongst the Highland clans were brutal and bloody, some of which inspired famous movies like Braveheart. After losing the war with England, the Highlanders were subjected to the Highland Clearances; they were forcibly removed from their homes to make way for sheep farming. Many of them ended up forming coastal towns, and some migrated to other countries in order to survive. Amidst the brutality of history, one thing that the Highlanders did not lose was the love of their land and the secrets within it.

The Highlands hold a plethora of captivating folktales and myths that draw in curious individuals who believe that the world is not all that it appears. Many legends are based on epic battles and mischievous creatures, and some try to explain some of Scotland’s natural peculiarities. The ever-changing weather gives way to dark shadows that haunt the living and heavenly beauty that can only be explained by magic. You may have heard tales of the Loch Ness Monster, kelpies, or brownies. If you are willing to listen, the kind people of this land may open your eyes to a world you never knew existed.

This region holds a long and complicated history for its people. It is a truly fascinating story that will capture your heart and imagination. Take a moment to listen to the old tales, and you will be astounded by the bravery and perseverance the Highlanders possessed.

Flora & Fauna

The Great Glen Way stretches nearly from coast to coast, giving it a wide variety of terrain that supports many different types of flora and fauna. While the trail itself is a straight shot, you will still have the opportunity to observe the diverse and rich wildlife that surrounds it.

The Great Glen Way stretches through some of the most gorgeous landscape that the Scottish Highlands has to offer. It is like a mosaic of natural colours from the emerald green grasses to the bright bursts of colourful wildflowers. Scotland has around 2,000 species of flowers which blanket the country in colour during spring and summer. In addition, it is the only place on the planet where the Scottish primrose is found.

From the grass-of-Parnassus found within the marsh to the heather flowers growing along the slopes, there are countless plant species to see. Entire fields of bluebells can be seen in the distance as you try to avoid stepping on the cep mushrooms adorning the edge of the path. In the spring, bright yellow globe flowers, light pint cross-leaved heath, and delicate white twinflowers cover the earth, so wholly that it will feel as though you have been transported to a magical realm. Caledonian pinewoods, Scotland’s only native coniferous trees, reach for the sky here and there. Wet weather brings a vast array of ferns, fungi, and moss which decorate the shady areas. All of this incredible flora brings spectacular fauna that will delight anyone who happens to catch a glimpse.

Many of the larger mammals in Scotland were lost long ago due to hunting and deforestation, including the wolf, bear, lynx, and elk. The only large species left are those in the water. Off the coast of your starting point in Inverness, you may have the chance to see whale, porpoise, and dolphin species swimming through the white-capped waters. Otters and grey seals are often seen, or heard, barking on the coastline. Within the harbour there are coastal birds like the puffin, tern, and razorbill flying overhead. The world’s second-largest fish, the basking shark, also calls these waters home along with the rare leatherback turtle. Rockpools are quite common along the beaches, providing great exploratory opportunities for children and adults alike.

As you make your way inland, you have the possibility of seeing red squirrels, badgers, foxes, and the famous red deer. The woodland is home to many birds; you will have a chance to see the redstart, the crested tit, the tree pipit, and many more. Beavers were recently re-introduced into the environment and are thriving. This has led scientists to want to bring back lynx and wolves, but given the concerns of the local human population, it is unlikely that it will happen anytime soon.

One annoying animal that you will encounter are midges. These small flies are often located near water or marshy areas, and they tend to travel in swarms. It is best to avoid walking into a massive swarm of these flies if possible.

One rare animal that you will likely not see, or even recognise if you do, is the Highland tiger. While not like a tiger in the traditional sense of the word, this Scottish wildcat is known for its distinctive striped coat. Purebreds are almost double the size of a domestic cat and are not fond of humans. However, they have interbred with domestic cats, and subsequently the population of purebreds has dropped dramatically. It is estimated that there are less than 50 left in the wild.

Local Cuisine

Scottish cuisine is hearty and delicious; it is primarily made from locally sourced products steeped with tradition. On most menus, you can find meals such as steak pie, fish and chips, cranachan, haggis, porridge, black pudding, Scottish seafood, and sweet treats. These are our favourite restaurants that you will find along the Great Glen Way.

The Grog & Grill

The Grog & Grill is one of the most popular restaurants in all of Fort William. This joint has everything you could ever want. From morning till night, you can order from their Alehouse menu. Here you can find the perfect light snack or a hearty meal to fill your belly. Once evening rolls around, try their restaurant menu which features everything from nachos to steak to Cajun food. You will want for nothing after an evening here. Plus, it is an absolute must to try one of their regionally brewed ales or a classy whisky.

Crannog

Make your way over to this red-roofed restaurant to experience the best seafood that Scotland has to offer. Overlooking Loch Linnhe, right on the Fort William Town Pier, Crannog features everything from salmon to hake. If you are not a seafood lover, no problem! They also serve roasted turkey, rib-eye steaks, and hearty pies. Just make sure to leave room for their cherry chocolate torte with cherry Chantilly cream to finish off the night in style.

Inverlochy Castle

If you would like to experience fine dining like royalty, you must visit Albert and Michel Roux Jr. at Inverlochy Castle. This father/son duo create spectacular dishes from locally sourced ingredients in modern British style with a French twist. Delight in their Loch Etive sea trout or their herb encrusted lamb and pair it with a delectable wine. You will leave with your taste buds soaring.

The Lime Tree

The Lime Tree is an award-winning restaurant that prides itself on creating delicious meals from fresh and seasonal locally-sourced products. Curious about haggis but don’t want to try the real thing? Try their vegetarian haggis instead! You can also taste their beautifully made aubergine parmigiana, highland venison, or Lasg bree. The kitchen even serves a tiny taster course similar to an amuse-bouche that will give you a sneak peek into Scottish cuisine.

Moriston Bar & Restaurant

Experience dining like a Scot at the Moriston Bar & Restaurant. Moriston prides itself on freshly prepared in-house meals made of quality, locally-sourced ingredients. You will have the opportunity to taste traditional dishes like Scottish salmon, Highland beef, haggis, and black pudding. Moriston enjoys feeding people from every walk of life, so they also have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options to ensure that everyone leaves full and happy.

The Brasserie

Within the Lovat Hotel is the excellent Brasserie restaurant. This cute restaurant is shabby-chic and prides itself on an attentive, yet non-intrusive, staff that will cater to your every need. Carefully designed meals made of high-quality produce will delight your senses. Join them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and prepare yourself for a delicious meal. Try their flame-grilled mackerel as an appetiser or the roast loin of lamb as your main course. Just make sure to save plenty of room for one of their classy desserts at the end.

Aspendos

Had enough Scottish food for the moment? Mix it up by going to Aspendos. This Turkish-Mediterranean restaurant serves a variety of foods that will please all of your senses. Try their Saksuka or Sucuk Izgara as an appetiser. For their main dishes, they serve lamb, chicken, steak, and fish as well as many vegetarian options. Kind staff and cuisine traditions thousands of years in the making will have you returning again and again.

River House Restaurant

At the foot of the Greig Street suspension bridge, right on the edge of the River Ness, is the River House Restaurant. A comfortable and classy atmosphere with fantastic views over the water is one of the staples of the River House along with its wide variety of seafood and shellfish. Here you can experience some of the finest seafood Scotland has to offer from oysters to bass to langoustine. You will leave having truly experienced the taste of the sea.

Old Station Restaurant

This historic restaurant was converted from a Victorian railway station. It was here that the trainee commandos started their epic training for World War II by marching from the station to Castle Commando. Now you can “dine on the line” and eat locally-sourced ingredients like Scottish meats and Lochaber fish. If you aren’t hungry, just pop in to the bar and grab one of their malt whiskies or Scottish artisanal gins.

The Boathouse

Perched on the very end of Loch Ness, with stunning views over the water, is one of Fort Augustus’s favourite restaurants, the Boathouse. The Boathouse features a selection of authentic Scottish dishes as well as Mediterranean specialties. They pride themselves on providing fresh ingredients that will make your palate dance with flavour.

Fiddler’s

Head on down to Fiddler’s if you are looking for traditional Scottish comfort food. Their award-winning haggis is a must-try for newbies to Scotland! They aim to please, so there is something for everyone here. Enjoy a fresh salad, a hearty pasta, savoury venison, and more! Don’t forget to ask about their dessert menu, which includes whisky sponge cake and boozy ice cream.

ACCOMMODATION

Along our walking holiday, we will stay in 3-star hotels, bed and breakfasts, and guesthouses. There is also an option to upgrade to a 4-star hotel. These charming accommodations are located along the Great Glen Way and are eager to welcome walkers. Scottish people are incredibly friendly and pride themselves on ensuring a memorable stay for you. Below are some of the typical hotels that we stay in along the Great Glen Way.

Coire Glas

Located on the edge of Spean Bridge Village is the charming Coire Glas Guest House. Nearly surrounded by trees and with a gorgeous view of the ski slopes of Aonach Mor, this guesthouse is the perfect place to rest after a long day of walking. Comfortable rooms in a variety of sizes are designed to provide you with a relaxing end to the day. Try curling up in the guest lounge with a good book, you will feel your stress melt away. Be sure to enjoy a delightful breakfast in the dining area in the morning before you head out.

The Lovat

The Lovat is an award-winning, eco-conscious hotel located on the loch-side village of Fort Augustus. It is the only 4-star hotel in Loch Ness and an excellent upgrade choice on your walking holiday. Each of their rooms is designed with 4-star comfort as the forefront principal, ensuring that each guest can relax in luxury. Their ban on palm oil products and effort to maintain an environmentally friendly hotel makes The Lovat a popular destination for those who both want to explore the beautiful highlands and preserve the natural environment.

Glenmoriston Arms

Glenmoriston Arms is a traditional Scottish hotel in the village of Invermoriston. This hotel is “a stone’s throw from Loch Ness…a world away from your daily cares.” Relax in the warm sun of the bar garden as you sip an ice-cold beer or explore the surrounding Highland village. Quaint rooms with all the usual amenities are waiting for you here, along with the opportunity to visit their fabulous restaurant and bar where you can learn what it is like to be a true Scot.

Greenlea B&B

Old fashioned charm meets the modern world. Greenlea Bed & Breakfast was built in 1810, the first house on the Village Green in Drumnadrochit. Once a site for cattle sales, this adorable cottage has been transformed into a quaint location that walkers love to spend time in at the end of the day. Comfy rooms and a full Scottish breakfast are all a part of the package. Additionally, Greenlea is within short walking distance of fantastic local restaurants, shops, and other amenities.

Transport

As a part of your walking holiday with us, we will transfer your main luggage between accommodations. Therefore, you will only have to wear light daypacks as you take part in your walking holiday. However, it is your responsibility to manage how you will arrive at the first city and how you will depart from the final destination. We have listed some suggestions below, and we can arrange a private transfer at your request. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in contact with your service representative; after doing so, we will happily guide you through your best options.

If you are travelling from outside of Scotland and the UK, you can find arrival and departure flights from either Edinburgh or Glasgow. Both airports have a variety of flights connecting to Europe and other regions of the world. If you choose to fly into Edinburgh, you will have to transfer to Glasgow before continuing on to Fort Williams.

If you are travelling from within Scotland or the UK, there are a variety of bus and train lines that will connect you to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow, or other cities that are closer to home.

Another useful generic planning tool for travel is Rome2Rio should you be travelling from, or to, other destinations.

Arrival to Fort William

From Edinburgh:
If you choose to fly into Edinburgh, you will have to transfer to the Waverly Railway Station first thing. You can do this by taking the Airlink 100 from the airport to the station. From here, you will need to transfer to Glasgow before continuing to Fort Williams. You can take the ScotRail train from Edinburgh Waverley Station and transfer at the Glasgow Queen Street Station. From here, you will take the Mallaig ScotRail train to Fort William Travel Centre.

From Glasgow:
If you are flying into Glasgow, you will need to transfer to the Glasgow Queen Street Station. This can be done by taking the 500 Airport Express Bus from the airport to Cathedral Street. Here you will transfer to Glasgow Queen Street Station. From here, take the Mallaig ScotRail train to Fort William Travel Centre.

Departure from Inverness

To Edinburgh:
When departing from Inverness, you can transfer to Edinburgh to connect with other trains or flights. Depending on your departure time, you have a variety of options. You can take the bus from the Farraline Park Bus Station to the Edinburgh Bus Station. It will take approximately 4 hours to reach Edinburgh. Another option would be to take the Edinburgh ScotRail train to Edinburgh Waverly Station. It takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes; however, there are limited departure times for this train.

To Glasgow:
If you wish to return to Glasgow, you can find a variety of train and flight options from this city to your home destination.

climate/weather

April to October is the best season to explore the gorgeous terrain of the Great Glen Way. In spring, the temperature can range from 4.5° C to 12.4° C, with the temperature slowly getting warmer as summer approaches. July is the hottest month of the year with a maximum temperature of 21.4° C, although the evening can cool down drastically to 12.2° C. With fall comes cooler temperatures that will likely drop to freezing after October. Rain and cloudy weather are part of daily life in the highlands of Scotland. Throughout the year, there is a sizable chance that conditions could be overcast with rain showers. During the summer months, there are fewer cloudy days, although the chance of rain ranges from 20%-30% all year long. It is always best to assume that you will encounter rain when visiting the Great Glen Way and to prepare accordingly.

Terrain

The Great Glen Way spans the Highland fault line from Fort William to Inverness. Three lochs extend along the fault line and are connected by the Caledonian Canal, making for an easy route to follow. The majority of the trail runs along large, smooth tracks. Occasionally there will be inclines, as the path ultimately heads towards the distant mountains. Shoreline paths stretch easily along the lochs for incredible views over the glistening water. As you near the end of your walking holiday, the tracks will narrow into open moor and woodland paths. Altogether, the terrain of the Great Glen Way is considered one of the topographically easiest walking routes in the UK.

when to walk

The best time to explore the magnificent beauty of the Great Glen Way is from April to October; fortunately, that is when we offer this walking holiday! You will get to enjoy beautiful weather as you walk, and all of the local accommodations, restaurants, stores, and activities will be open at this time.

walking fitness levels

Walking along the Great Glen Way is rated easy to challenging, depending on the route chosen. Generally speaking, the walking path is wide, easy to navigate, and well-marked. At the beginning of your trip, the track is quite flat along the canal, which is a lovely way to transition into your walking holiday. The distance per day can reach a maximum of 20km with an ascent and descent of up to 500m. You will have the opportunity to walk through forest trails, moorlands, lock side trails, canal paths, on vehicle tracks, and through towns and villages. There is very little technical expertise needed which makes this ideal for individuals completing their first walking tour.

It is recommended that you have a moderately active lifestyle if you want to participate in this walk. You should maintain an exercise regime of 2 to 3 times a week and be able to walk for multiple hours a day. If you are unsure of your level of fitness, consult with your doctor.

walking essentials

Your main piece of luggage will be transported for you each day as you walk, so when you arrive at your accommodation, it will be there waiting for you. You will only have to carry a light day pack with your essentials.

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your self-guided walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a lightweight day pack with you. Scotland is also known for being wet and rainy. Even in the middle of summer, it can get hit with poor weather, so it is best to be prepared. Here is what we suggest that you take with you each day:

  • Walking notes, map and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Warm jumper or jacket
  • Sunhat/Rainhat
  • Comfortable walking shoes or boots
  • Waterproof backpack cover
  • Sunscreen (at least 15 SPF+)
  • 1 to 2 litres of water
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Some money
  • Mobile phone (please note that reception is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent (highly important for midges), band-aids, and a small container of salt mixed with rice grains
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of any additional items that may be worth taking along with you. These items may include but are not limited to:

  • Waterproof over-trousers
  • Warm hat
  • Extra socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with an extra battery or SIM cards)
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking stick / walking poles
  • Additional snacks

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office and have a chat with our friendly team. We will happily advise you on what types of clothing, backpacks, boots, and other materials you may need for your walking holiday.

locations

Fort William

At the start of your journey, you will be in Fort William. Fort William was constructed in 1654 at the mouth of the River Ness; originally it was called Inverlochy. The surrounding towns were centred around fishing, specifically the herring industry, as was common in Scotland at the time. This incredible fort withstood uprisings for centuries, but it could not resist modernisation. In the 19th century, it was demolished to make room for a railway. Now the area is simply known as Fort William, and the fort is buried underneath the Fort William Railway Station.

Inverlochy Castle

This 13th century castle may just be ruins now, but once upon a time it played a vital role in defending the region. Two significant battles, the first and second battles of Inverlochy, were fought near Inverlochy Castle. The last time the castle saw any action was during the Civil War between the Scottish and the English during the 1640s. Soon after, Inverlochy was abandoned for a fort built by Oliver Cromwell. Today, you can walk among the ruins and daydream about a time when life was a bit different.

Loch Linnhe

Loch Linnhe stretches 50km past Fort William but is not even 2km across at its widest point. Fed from lochs from the north and east, this area is rich in wildlife. Many photographers come from around the world to capture the stunning sunsets and up-close views of the local wildlife. If you look closely, you may even see seals sunning themselves on the beaches of the tiny islands that make their way up the loch.

Ben Nevis

Standing at a substantial 1,345m is Scotland’s tallest peak, Ben Nevis. In ancient Gaelic, this mountain’s name can be translated in two ways: the “mountain with its head in the cloud” and the “venomous mountain.” How you want to interpret it is up to you! This beloved mountain was once an active volcano that erupted millions of years ago and then collapsed in on itself. While your walking holiday will not take you up the mountain, you will get many glorious views of it.

Gairlochy

Gairlochy is a little hamlet that you will pass through on your walking holiday. It extends only 5km from Spean Bridge up towards Achnarry and Loch Arkaig. This area is picturesque in every aspect of the word from its surrounding beech forests to fishermen havens along the canal.

Neptune’s Staircase

Built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822, Neptune’s Staircase in an engineering marvel. It is the longest staircase lock in Scotland, raising the canal by 19m in less than half a kilometre. This is the ideal location to gawk at passing boats because it takes about 90 minutes for them to travel through the staircase. So take a seat, grab a snack, and enjoy the show!

Caledonian Canal

Much of the Great Glen Way path extends along the Caledonian Canal. This canal was created in 1822 by the poor Highlanders who had suffered greatly from the Highland Clearances, a time that the local inhabitants faced forced eviction to make way for sheep farming. The 37-mile long canal was hand dug and is an engineering marvel. While it didn’t end up benefiting them in the way they hoped, it ended up creating a fantastic tourist destination that draws countless visitors each year.

Spean Bridge

Known as “the crossroads of the Highlands,” Spean Bridge village is literally the crossroads. It is here where visitors can choose to head north to Inverness and the Isle of Skye, east to Loch Laggan, or south to Fort William. This quaint village sees a lot of traffic and is an ideal location to grab a bite to eat, do a bit of window shopping, or visit the Kilmonivaig Church.

Commando Memorial

Located just outside of Spean Bridge village is the Commando Memorial. This memorial was erected in 1952; it honours the Green Berets who trained at the local Commandos Basic Training Centre and subsequently fell during World War II. Made up of three bronze commandos standing at 5.2m high, this statue is an imposing site. It serves as a peaceful reminder to remember those who gave their lives in the war.

Laggan

Laggan is a charming little village surrounded by the gorgeous Monadhliath and Grampian mountain ranges. Here you can grab a tasty beverage from one of the small shops, enjoy a bit of ice cream, or just take a well-deserved rest. Laggan is a hot spot for nature enthusiasts who enjoy fishing, horseback riding, golfing, walking, kayaking, and more.

Loch Lochy

Loch Lochy is a large freshwater loch that makes up part of the Caledonian Canal. As you walk along the perimeter, you will be able to witness eagles soaring overhead and perhaps catch a glimpse of the fish darting around just below the surface of the water. Enjoy the stunning views and peaceful air that the loch brings to the Highland countryside.

Invergarry

Hundreds of years ago, Invergarry was known as the land of the powerful MacDonnell family. Here they built the Invergarry Castle which faced an eventful 150 years, from fires to local uprisings. While it lays in ruin now, the little town that popped up in its place is a central hub for those exploring Loch Oich, Loch Garry, and the Glengarry Forest.

Fort Augustus

Fort Augustus was initially named for the fort built after the defeat of the 1715 Jacobite uprising. Sadly, nothing of the fort remains today. You can, however, enjoy the little town that has taken its place. Visit one of the cultural heritage centres to learn more about the history of the highlands, take a cruise of the loch, or simply take a page out of the locals’ book by watching the boats cruise for a couple hours as you relax at a bar or restaurant.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness is one of the most famous lochs in the world due to the tales of a great monster living within its depths. There are over 1,000 accounts of “Nessie” being spotted since the first photograph of her was released in 1933. With Loch Ness containing more water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined, it gives her plenty of hiding spots. Do you think she is real? Take a boat cruise and see if you can spot her yourself!

Invermoriston

This little Highland village is an adorable stop on your walking holiday. Across the road from the hotel is a small village shop and café where you can enjoy a delightful beverage. After you are done, take a stroll into the garden and see the sculpture in honour of the Olympic torch that passed through Invermoriston on its way to the 2012 London Olympics. If you feel like extending your stroll, take a moment to visit the war memorial, St. Columba’s Holy Well, and Thomas Telford’s Bridge.

Drumnadrochit

Drumnadrochit village got its name from the Gaelic term “Druim na Drochaid” which translates to “Ridge of the Bridge.” This name isn’t easy to say for locals or visitors, so everyone just shortens it to “Drum.” This town is popular for people trying to spot the mysterious Nessie as well as those who simply want to fish and enjoy the beauty of Loch Ness. Take a walk down to the village centre, called “The Green,” and relax at one of their cafes or pubs.

Urquhart Castle

As one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart Castle contains over 500 years of astounding history. This castle was passed back and forth under both Scottish and English rule during the Wars of Independence until the last troops that were stationed there blew it up when they left. You can now explore the ruins of the castle by climbing the Grant Tower, peering into the prison cell that is rumoured to have once held the Gaelic bard Domhnall Donn, or participating in the fun fact-finding quiz!

Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition

Opened over 30 years ago, the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition contains seven themed areas that will guide you through 500 million years of the historical, natural, and cultural history of the Highlands. You will learn about the fascinating environment in and around Loch Ness and about the famous Loch Ness Monster.

Inverness

Inverness has a rich history dating all the way back to 500 BC. Many peoples occupied this land over the centuries, but it became more widely known in the 11th century when a new fort was built. You may know of this fort from Shakespeare’s Macbeth which was written about this castle and its patriarch, King Duncan. Like much of Scotland, the area traded hands many times over the years; eventually, the castle was destroyed. However, another castle was built in its place during the 1830s, which is now being used by the crown as a courthouse. Today, Inverness is considered the capital of the Highlands and draws an abundance of visitors each year.

non-walking activites

Caledonian Canal Centre

Are you curious about the history of the massive Caledonian Canal that you are walking along for a large part of your holiday? Pop on in to the Caledonian Canal Centre to learn about how and why this canal came to be. At the same time, you can try their local artisan ice cream and buy locally-sourced goods.

The Clansman Centre

Take a step back in time to when the Highlands were ruled by clans. Watch a 30-minute film screening of “The Clansman: Portrait of a Highland Warrior” or book a Clansman show in advance. During this show, they will teach you about the clan system and the local culture. You will learn everything from what they ate, why they wear kilts, how they used their deadly weapons, and what it meant to be a clansman.

Harry Potter Train Ride

Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Have you read all the books and seen all the movies? Then you must know about the famous train that takes all the students to Hogwarts. This train was inspired by a Scottish train, and you can take the journey for yourself. Starting from Fort William, the West Coast Railway takes you on a journey through the Scottish countryside to Mallaig. Arrive a day early to your walking holiday and have the opportunity to unleash your inner wizard.

Fishing

Fishing is a beloved pastime in the Scottish Highlands, and many people enjoy this leisurely sport while they visit. It is possible to fish along the banks, in the lochs, on the river, and by the Caledonian Canal. However, there are some strict rules and regulations for fishing in the Highlands. Make sure to do your research before grabbing that fishing pole.

Golfing

What greener place to golf than the beautiful countryside of Scotland? There is a golf course in Fort Williams, four in Inverness, and one in Fort Augustus. Keep your swing loose at the range, practice with a short round at the nine-hole course, or play a full round; there is something for everyone along the Great Glen Way. It’s time to tee up and hit a long drive in one of the most stunning golfing landscapes in the world!

Boat Tour

As you walk along the gorgeous lochs through the Highlands, you are probably wondering what it would be like to sail across their glassy waters. You can experience this by taking a boat tour of one of the lochs. You can also take sightseeing cruises to get an up-close look at whales, dolphins, and other magnificent sea creatures! There are many tour companies in the area that offer boat cruises depending on what you want to see and which loch you want to explore!

Paddling in the Canal

Over 4,000 paddlers love coasting along the smooth waters of the Caledonian Canal each year. Some even take on the long-distance route by paddling from end to end over three to five days. We aren’t suggesting you go that far since you are already walking it, but you can take some time to get out on the water!

Overview

OVERVIEW

The Great Glen Way extends for 127km and starts in the charming city of Fort William. You will traverse along the towpaths of the Caledonian Canal, beside Loch Ness, and through remote glen tracks until you reach the city of Inverness. Golden eagles can be spotted soaring high overhead while you might be lucky enough to spot relaxing along the beaches of the tiny islands that dot the lochs. You will be able to tour centuries-old castles, watch boats cruise along the canal, and visit tiny towns that are the backbone of the Scottish countryside lifestyle.

You will have the opportunity to stay in charming accommodations run by local people that will welcome you with open arms. Also, if you are brave, you can venture into the realm of traditional Scottish cuisine! Fantastic locally produced varieties of beer, whisky, and other alcoholic goodies are waiting for you.

This walking holiday will open your senses to the natural world, your taste buds to delicious food, and your mind to the fascinating tales that make Scotland incredibly unique.

History

History

The Great Glen Way officially opened on April 30th, 2002. This spectacular trail extends 127km across the gorgeous landscape of the Scottish Highlands all the way from Inverness to Fort William. Along the path, as a part of the Great Glen Ways Project, there are fifty carefully-placed information panels that teach walkers not only about the environment but also about the history, folklore, forest management, and archaeology of this beautiful path.

The Scottish Highlands are considered romantic and magical, but it has a dark foundation in history. Battles amongst the Highland clans were brutal and bloody, some of which inspired famous movies like Braveheart. After losing the war with England, the Highlanders were subjected to the Highland Clearances; they were forcibly removed from their homes to make way for sheep farming. Many of them ended up forming coastal towns, and some migrated to other countries in order to survive. Amidst the brutality of history, one thing that the Highlanders did not lose was the love of their land and the secrets within it.

The Highlands hold a plethora of captivating folktales and myths that draw in curious individuals who believe that the world is not all that it appears. Many legends are based on epic battles and mischievous creatures, and some try to explain some of Scotland’s natural peculiarities. The ever-changing weather gives way to dark shadows that haunt the living and heavenly beauty that can only be explained by magic. You may have heard tales of the Loch Ness Monster, kelpies, or brownies. If you are willing to listen, the kind people of this land may open your eyes to a world you never knew existed.

This region holds a long and complicated history for its people. It is a truly fascinating story that will capture your heart and imagination. Take a moment to listen to the old tales, and you will be astounded by the bravery and perseverance the Highlanders possessed.

Flora & Fauna

Flora & Fauna

The Great Glen Way stretches nearly from coast to coast, giving it a wide variety of terrain that supports many different types of flora and fauna. While the trail itself is a straight shot, you will still have the opportunity to observe the diverse and rich wildlife that surrounds it.

The Great Glen Way stretches through some of the most gorgeous landscape that the Scottish Highlands has to offer. It is like a mosaic of natural colours from the emerald green grasses to the bright bursts of colourful wildflowers. Scotland has around 2,000 species of flowers which blanket the country in colour during spring and summer. In addition, it is the only place on the planet where the Scottish primrose is found.

From the grass-of-Parnassus found within the marsh to the heather flowers growing along the slopes, there are countless plant species to see. Entire fields of bluebells can be seen in the distance as you try to avoid stepping on the cep mushrooms adorning the edge of the path. In the spring, bright yellow globe flowers, light pint cross-leaved heath, and delicate white twinflowers cover the earth, so wholly that it will feel as though you have been transported to a magical realm. Caledonian pinewoods, Scotland’s only native coniferous trees, reach for the sky here and there. Wet weather brings a vast array of ferns, fungi, and moss which decorate the shady areas. All of this incredible flora brings spectacular fauna that will delight anyone who happens to catch a glimpse.

Many of the larger mammals in Scotland were lost long ago due to hunting and deforestation, including the wolf, bear, lynx, and elk. The only large species left are those in the water. Off the coast of your starting point in Inverness, you may have the chance to see whale, porpoise, and dolphin species swimming through the white-capped waters. Otters and grey seals are often seen, or heard, barking on the coastline. Within the harbour there are coastal birds like the puffin, tern, and razorbill flying overhead. The world’s second-largest fish, the basking shark, also calls these waters home along with the rare leatherback turtle. Rockpools are quite common along the beaches, providing great exploratory opportunities for children and adults alike.

As you make your way inland, you have the possibility of seeing red squirrels, badgers, foxes, and the famous red deer. The woodland is home to many birds; you will have a chance to see the redstart, the crested tit, the tree pipit, and many more. Beavers were recently re-introduced into the environment and are thriving. This has led scientists to want to bring back lynx and wolves, but given the concerns of the local human population, it is unlikely that it will happen anytime soon.

One annoying animal that you will encounter are midges. These small flies are often located near water or marshy areas, and they tend to travel in swarms. It is best to avoid walking into a massive swarm of these flies if possible.

One rare animal that you will likely not see, or even recognise if you do, is the Highland tiger. While not like a tiger in the traditional sense of the word, this Scottish wildcat is known for its distinctive striped coat. Purebreds are almost double the size of a domestic cat and are not fond of humans. However, they have interbred with domestic cats, and subsequently the population of purebreds has dropped dramatically. It is estimated that there are less than 50 left in the wild.

Local Cuisine

Local Cuisine

Scottish cuisine is hearty and delicious; it is primarily made from locally sourced products steeped with tradition. On most menus, you can find meals such as steak pie, fish and chips, cranachan, haggis, porridge, black pudding, Scottish seafood, and sweet treats. These are our favourite restaurants that you will find along the Great Glen Way.

The Grog & Grill

The Grog & Grill is one of the most popular restaurants in all of Fort William. This joint has everything you could ever want. From morning till night, you can order from their Alehouse menu. Here you can find the perfect light snack or a hearty meal to fill your belly. Once evening rolls around, try their restaurant menu which features everything from nachos to steak to Cajun food. You will want for nothing after an evening here. Plus, it is an absolute must to try one of their regionally brewed ales or a classy whisky.

Crannog

Make your way over to this red-roofed restaurant to experience the best seafood that Scotland has to offer. Overlooking Loch Linnhe, right on the Fort William Town Pier, Crannog features everything from salmon to hake. If you are not a seafood lover, no problem! They also serve roasted turkey, rib-eye steaks, and hearty pies. Just make sure to leave room for their cherry chocolate torte with cherry Chantilly cream to finish off the night in style.

Inverlochy Castle

If you would like to experience fine dining like royalty, you must visit Albert and Michel Roux Jr. at Inverlochy Castle. This father/son duo create spectacular dishes from locally sourced ingredients in modern British style with a French twist. Delight in their Loch Etive sea trout or their herb encrusted lamb and pair it with a delectable wine. You will leave with your taste buds soaring.

The Lime Tree

The Lime Tree is an award-winning restaurant that prides itself on creating delicious meals from fresh and seasonal locally-sourced products. Curious about haggis but don’t want to try the real thing? Try their vegetarian haggis instead! You can also taste their beautifully made aubergine parmigiana, highland venison, or Lasg bree. The kitchen even serves a tiny taster course similar to an amuse-bouche that will give you a sneak peek into Scottish cuisine.

Moriston Bar & Restaurant

Experience dining like a Scot at the Moriston Bar & Restaurant. Moriston prides itself on freshly prepared in-house meals made of quality, locally-sourced ingredients. You will have the opportunity to taste traditional dishes like Scottish salmon, Highland beef, haggis, and black pudding. Moriston enjoys feeding people from every walk of life, so they also have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options to ensure that everyone leaves full and happy.

The Brasserie

Within the Lovat Hotel is the excellent Brasserie restaurant. This cute restaurant is shabby-chic and prides itself on an attentive, yet non-intrusive, staff that will cater to your every need. Carefully designed meals made of high-quality produce will delight your senses. Join them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and prepare yourself for a delicious meal. Try their flame-grilled mackerel as an appetiser or the roast loin of lamb as your main course. Just make sure to save plenty of room for one of their classy desserts at the end.

Aspendos

Had enough Scottish food for the moment? Mix it up by going to Aspendos. This Turkish-Mediterranean restaurant serves a variety of foods that will please all of your senses. Try their Saksuka or Sucuk Izgara as an appetiser. For their main dishes, they serve lamb, chicken, steak, and fish as well as many vegetarian options. Kind staff and cuisine traditions thousands of years in the making will have you returning again and again.

River House Restaurant

At the foot of the Greig Street suspension bridge, right on the edge of the River Ness, is the River House Restaurant. A comfortable and classy atmosphere with fantastic views over the water is one of the staples of the River House along with its wide variety of seafood and shellfish. Here you can experience some of the finest seafood Scotland has to offer from oysters to bass to langoustine. You will leave having truly experienced the taste of the sea.

Old Station Restaurant

This historic restaurant was converted from a Victorian railway station. It was here that the trainee commandos started their epic training for World War II by marching from the station to Castle Commando. Now you can “dine on the line” and eat locally-sourced ingredients like Scottish meats and Lochaber fish. If you aren’t hungry, just pop in to the bar and grab one of their malt whiskies or Scottish artisanal gins.

The Boathouse

Perched on the very end of Loch Ness, with stunning views over the water, is one of Fort Augustus’s favourite restaurants, the Boathouse. The Boathouse features a selection of authentic Scottish dishes as well as Mediterranean specialties. They pride themselves on providing fresh ingredients that will make your palate dance with flavour.

Fiddler’s

Head on down to Fiddler’s if you are looking for traditional Scottish comfort food. Their award-winning haggis is a must-try for newbies to Scotland! They aim to please, so there is something for everyone here. Enjoy a fresh salad, a hearty pasta, savoury venison, and more! Don’t forget to ask about their dessert menu, which includes whisky sponge cake and boozy ice cream.

ACCOMMODATION

ACCOMMODATION

Along our walking holiday, we will stay in 3-star hotels, bed and breakfasts, and guesthouses. There is also an option to upgrade to a 4-star hotel. These charming accommodations are located along the Great Glen Way and are eager to welcome walkers. Scottish people are incredibly friendly and pride themselves on ensuring a memorable stay for you. Below are some of the typical hotels that we stay in along the Great Glen Way.

Coire Glas

Located on the edge of Spean Bridge Village is the charming Coire Glas Guest House. Nearly surrounded by trees and with a gorgeous view of the ski slopes of Aonach Mor, this guesthouse is the perfect place to rest after a long day of walking. Comfortable rooms in a variety of sizes are designed to provide you with a relaxing end to the day. Try curling up in the guest lounge with a good book, you will feel your stress melt away. Be sure to enjoy a delightful breakfast in the dining area in the morning before you head out.

The Lovat

The Lovat is an award-winning, eco-conscious hotel located on the loch-side village of Fort Augustus. It is the only 4-star hotel in Loch Ness and an excellent upgrade choice on your walking holiday. Each of their rooms is designed with 4-star comfort as the forefront principal, ensuring that each guest can relax in luxury. Their ban on palm oil products and effort to maintain an environmentally friendly hotel makes The Lovat a popular destination for those who both want to explore the beautiful highlands and preserve the natural environment.

Glenmoriston Arms

Glenmoriston Arms is a traditional Scottish hotel in the village of Invermoriston. This hotel is “a stone’s throw from Loch Ness…a world away from your daily cares.” Relax in the warm sun of the bar garden as you sip an ice-cold beer or explore the surrounding Highland village. Quaint rooms with all the usual amenities are waiting for you here, along with the opportunity to visit their fabulous restaurant and bar where you can learn what it is like to be a true Scot.

Greenlea B&B

Old fashioned charm meets the modern world. Greenlea Bed & Breakfast was built in 1810, the first house on the Village Green in Drumnadrochit. Once a site for cattle sales, this adorable cottage has been transformed into a quaint location that walkers love to spend time in at the end of the day. Comfy rooms and a full Scottish breakfast are all a part of the package. Additionally, Greenlea is within short walking distance of fantastic local restaurants, shops, and other amenities.

Transport

Transport

As a part of your walking holiday with us, we will transfer your main luggage between accommodations. Therefore, you will only have to wear light daypacks as you take part in your walking holiday. However, it is your responsibility to manage how you will arrive at the first city and how you will depart from the final destination. We have listed some suggestions below, and we can arrange a private transfer at your request. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in contact with your service representative; after doing so, we will happily guide you through your best options.

If you are travelling from outside of Scotland and the UK, you can find arrival and departure flights from either Edinburgh or Glasgow. Both airports have a variety of flights connecting to Europe and other regions of the world. If you choose to fly into Edinburgh, you will have to transfer to Glasgow before continuing on to Fort Williams.

If you are travelling from within Scotland or the UK, there are a variety of bus and train lines that will connect you to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow, or other cities that are closer to home.

Another useful generic planning tool for travel is Rome2Rio should you be travelling from, or to, other destinations.

1. Arrival to Fort William

From Edinburgh:
If you choose to fly into Edinburgh, you will have to transfer to the Waverly Railway Station first thing. You can do this by taking the Airlink 100 from the airport to the station. From here, you will need to transfer to Glasgow before continuing to Fort Williams. You can take the ScotRail train from Edinburgh Waverley Station and transfer at the Glasgow Queen Street Station. From here, you will take the Mallaig ScotRail train to Fort William Travel Centre.

From Glasgow:
If you are flying into Glasgow, you will need to transfer to the Glasgow Queen Street Station. This can be done by taking the 500 Airport Express Bus from the airport to Cathedral Street. Here you will transfer to Glasgow Queen Street Station. From here, take the Mallaig ScotRail train to Fort William Travel Centre.

2. Departure from Inverness

To Edinburgh:
When departing from Inverness, you can transfer to Edinburgh to connect with other trains or flights. Depending on your departure time, you have a variety of options. You can take the bus from the Farraline Park Bus Station to the Edinburgh Bus Station. It will take approximately 4 hours to reach Edinburgh. Another option would be to take the Edinburgh ScotRail train to Edinburgh Waverly Station. It takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes; however, there are limited departure times for this train.

To Glasgow:
If you wish to return to Glasgow, you can find a variety of train and flight options from this city to your home destination.

climate/weather

climate/weather

April to October is the best season to explore the gorgeous terrain of the Great Glen Way. In spring, the temperature can range from 4.5° C to 12.4° C, with the temperature slowly getting warmer as summer approaches. July is the hottest month of the year with a maximum temperature of 21.4° C, although the evening can cool down drastically to 12.2° C. With fall comes cooler temperatures that will likely drop to freezing after October. Rain and cloudy weather are part of daily life in the highlands of Scotland. Throughout the year, there is a sizable chance that conditions could be overcast with rain showers. During the summer months, there are fewer cloudy days, although the chance of rain ranges from 20%-30% all year long. It is always best to assume that you will encounter rain when visiting the Great Glen Way and to prepare accordingly.

Terrain

Terrain

The Great Glen Way spans the Highland fault line from Fort William to Inverness. Three lochs extend along the fault line and are connected by the Caledonian Canal, making for an easy route to follow. The majority of the trail runs along large, smooth tracks. Occasionally there will be inclines, as the path ultimately heads towards the distant mountains. Shoreline paths stretch easily along the lochs for incredible views over the glistening water. As you near the end of your walking holiday, the tracks will narrow into open moor and woodland paths. Altogether, the terrain of the Great Glen Way is considered one of the topographically easiest walking routes in the UK.

when to walk

when to walk

The best time to explore the magnificent beauty of the Great Glen Way is from April to October; fortunately, that is when we offer this walking holiday! You will get to enjoy beautiful weather as you walk, and all of the local accommodations, restaurants, stores, and activities will be open at this time.

walking fitness levels

walking fitness levels

Walking along the Great Glen Way is rated easy to challenging, depending on the route chosen. Generally speaking, the walking path is wide, easy to navigate, and well-marked. At the beginning of your trip, the track is quite flat along the canal, which is a lovely way to transition into your walking holiday. The distance per day can reach a maximum of 20km with an ascent and descent of up to 500m. You will have the opportunity to walk through forest trails, moorlands, lock side trails, canal paths, on vehicle tracks, and through towns and villages. There is very little technical expertise needed which makes this ideal for individuals completing their first walking tour.

It is recommended that you have a moderately active lifestyle if you want to participate in this walk. You should maintain an exercise regime of 2 to 3 times a week and be able to walk for multiple hours a day. If you are unsure of your level of fitness, consult with your doctor.

walking essentials

walking essentials

Your main piece of luggage will be transported for you each day as you walk, so when you arrive at your accommodation, it will be there waiting for you. You will only have to carry a light day pack with your essentials.

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your self-guided walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a lightweight day pack with you. Scotland is also known for being wet and rainy. Even in the middle of summer, it can get hit with poor weather, so it is best to be prepared. Here is what we suggest that you take with you each day:

  • Walking notes, map and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Warm jumper or jacket
  • Sunhat/Rainhat
  • Comfortable walking shoes or boots
  • Waterproof backpack cover
  • Sunscreen (at least 15 SPF+)
  • 1 to 2 litres of water
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Some money
  • Mobile phone (please note that reception is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent (highly important for midges), band-aids, and a small container of salt mixed with rice grains
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of any additional items that may be worth taking along with you. These items may include but are not limited to:

  • Waterproof over-trousers
  • Warm hat
  • Extra socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with an extra battery or SIM cards)
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking stick / walking poles
  • Additional snacks

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office and have a chat with our friendly team. We will happily advise you on what types of clothing, backpacks, boots, and other materials you may need for your walking holiday.

locations

locations

Fort William

At the start of your journey, you will be in Fort William. Fort William was constructed in 1654 at the mouth of the River Ness; originally it was called Inverlochy. The surrounding towns were centred around fishing, specifically the herring industry, as was common in Scotland at the time. This incredible fort withstood uprisings for centuries, but it could not resist modernisation. In the 19th century, it was demolished to make room for a railway. Now the area is simply known as Fort William, and the fort is buried underneath the Fort William Railway Station.

Inverlochy Castle

This 13th century castle may just be ruins now, but once upon a time it played a vital role in defending the region. Two significant battles, the first and second battles of Inverlochy, were fought near Inverlochy Castle. The last time the castle saw any action was during the Civil War between the Scottish and the English during the 1640s. Soon after, Inverlochy was abandoned for a fort built by Oliver Cromwell. Today, you can walk among the ruins and daydream about a time when life was a bit different.

Loch Linnhe

Loch Linnhe stretches 50km past Fort William but is not even 2km across at its widest point. Fed from lochs from the north and east, this area is rich in wildlife. Many photographers come from around the world to capture the stunning sunsets and up-close views of the local wildlife. If you look closely, you may even see seals sunning themselves on the beaches of the tiny islands that make their way up the loch.

Ben Nevis

Standing at a substantial 1,345m is Scotland’s tallest peak, Ben Nevis. In ancient Gaelic, this mountain’s name can be translated in two ways: the “mountain with its head in the cloud” and the “venomous mountain.” How you want to interpret it is up to you! This beloved mountain was once an active volcano that erupted millions of years ago and then collapsed in on itself. While your walking holiday will not take you up the mountain, you will get many glorious views of it.

Gairlochy

Gairlochy is a little hamlet that you will pass through on your walking holiday. It extends only 5km from Spean Bridge up towards Achnarry and Loch Arkaig. This area is picturesque in every aspect of the word from its surrounding beech forests to fishermen havens along the canal.

Neptune’s Staircase

Built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822, Neptune’s Staircase in an engineering marvel. It is the longest staircase lock in Scotland, raising the canal by 19m in less than half a kilometre. This is the ideal location to gawk at passing boats because it takes about 90 minutes for them to travel through the staircase. So take a seat, grab a snack, and enjoy the show!

Caledonian Canal

Much of the Great Glen Way path extends along the Caledonian Canal. This canal was created in 1822 by the poor Highlanders who had suffered greatly from the Highland Clearances, a time that the local inhabitants faced forced eviction to make way for sheep farming. The 37-mile long canal was hand dug and is an engineering marvel. While it didn’t end up benefiting them in the way they hoped, it ended up creating a fantastic tourist destination that draws countless visitors each year.

Spean Bridge

Known as “the crossroads of the Highlands,” Spean Bridge village is literally the crossroads. It is here where visitors can choose to head north to Inverness and the Isle of Skye, east to Loch Laggan, or south to Fort William. This quaint village sees a lot of traffic and is an ideal location to grab a bite to eat, do a bit of window shopping, or visit the Kilmonivaig Church.

Commando Memorial

Located just outside of Spean Bridge village is the Commando Memorial. This memorial was erected in 1952; it honours the Green Berets who trained at the local Commandos Basic Training Centre and subsequently fell during World War II. Made up of three bronze commandos standing at 5.2m high, this statue is an imposing site. It serves as a peaceful reminder to remember those who gave their lives in the war.

Laggan

Laggan is a charming little village surrounded by the gorgeous Monadhliath and Grampian mountain ranges. Here you can grab a tasty beverage from one of the small shops, enjoy a bit of ice cream, or just take a well-deserved rest. Laggan is a hot spot for nature enthusiasts who enjoy fishing, horseback riding, golfing, walking, kayaking, and more.

Loch Lochy

Loch Lochy is a large freshwater loch that makes up part of the Caledonian Canal. As you walk along the perimeter, you will be able to witness eagles soaring overhead and perhaps catch a glimpse of the fish darting around just below the surface of the water. Enjoy the stunning views and peaceful air that the loch brings to the Highland countryside.

Invergarry

Hundreds of years ago, Invergarry was known as the land of the powerful MacDonnell family. Here they built the Invergarry Castle which faced an eventful 150 years, from fires to local uprisings. While it lays in ruin now, the little town that popped up in its place is a central hub for those exploring Loch Oich, Loch Garry, and the Glengarry Forest.

Fort Augustus

Fort Augustus was initially named for the fort built after the defeat of the 1715 Jacobite uprising. Sadly, nothing of the fort remains today. You can, however, enjoy the little town that has taken its place. Visit one of the cultural heritage centres to learn more about the history of the highlands, take a cruise of the loch, or simply take a page out of the locals’ book by watching the boats cruise for a couple hours as you relax at a bar or restaurant.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness is one of the most famous lochs in the world due to the tales of a great monster living within its depths. There are over 1,000 accounts of “Nessie” being spotted since the first photograph of her was released in 1933. With Loch Ness containing more water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined, it gives her plenty of hiding spots. Do you think she is real? Take a boat cruise and see if you can spot her yourself!

Invermoriston

This little Highland village is an adorable stop on your walking holiday. Across the road from the hotel is a small village shop and café where you can enjoy a delightful beverage. After you are done, take a stroll into the garden and see the sculpture in honour of the Olympic torch that passed through Invermoriston on its way to the 2012 London Olympics. If you feel like extending your stroll, take a moment to visit the war memorial, St. Columba’s Holy Well, and Thomas Telford’s Bridge.

Drumnadrochit

Drumnadrochit village got its name from the Gaelic term “Druim na Drochaid” which translates to “Ridge of the Bridge.” This name isn’t easy to say for locals or visitors, so everyone just shortens it to “Drum.” This town is popular for people trying to spot the mysterious Nessie as well as those who simply want to fish and enjoy the beauty of Loch Ness. Take a walk down to the village centre, called “The Green,” and relax at one of their cafes or pubs.

Urquhart Castle

As one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart Castle contains over 500 years of astounding history. This castle was passed back and forth under both Scottish and English rule during the Wars of Independence until the last troops that were stationed there blew it up when they left. You can now explore the ruins of the castle by climbing the Grant Tower, peering into the prison cell that is rumoured to have once held the Gaelic bard Domhnall Donn, or participating in the fun fact-finding quiz!

Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition

Opened over 30 years ago, the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition contains seven themed areas that will guide you through 500 million years of the historical, natural, and cultural history of the Highlands. You will learn about the fascinating environment in and around Loch Ness and about the famous Loch Ness Monster.

Inverness

Inverness has a rich history dating all the way back to 500 BC. Many peoples occupied this land over the centuries, but it became more widely known in the 11th century when a new fort was built. You may know of this fort from Shakespeare’s Macbeth which was written about this castle and its patriarch, King Duncan. Like much of Scotland, the area traded hands many times over the years; eventually, the castle was destroyed. However, another castle was built in its place during the 1830s, which is now being used by the crown as a courthouse. Today, Inverness is considered the capital of the Highlands and draws an abundance of visitors each year.

non-walking activites

non-walking activites

Caledonian Canal Centre

Are you curious about the history of the massive Caledonian Canal that you are walking along for a large part of your holiday? Pop on in to the Caledonian Canal Centre to learn about how and why this canal came to be. At the same time, you can try their local artisan ice cream and buy locally-sourced goods.

The Clansman Centre

Take a step back in time to when the Highlands were ruled by clans. Watch a 30-minute film screening of “The Clansman: Portrait of a Highland Warrior” or book a Clansman show in advance. During this show, they will teach you about the clan system and the local culture. You will learn everything from what they ate, why they wear kilts, how they used their deadly weapons, and what it meant to be a clansman.

Harry Potter Train Ride

Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Have you read all the books and seen all the movies? Then you must know about the famous train that takes all the students to Hogwarts. This train was inspired by a Scottish train, and you can take the journey for yourself. Starting from Fort William, the West Coast Railway takes you on a journey through the Scottish countryside to Mallaig. Arrive a day early to your walking holiday and have the opportunity to unleash your inner wizard.

Fishing

Fishing is a beloved pastime in the Scottish Highlands, and many people enjoy this leisurely sport while they visit. It is possible to fish along the banks, in the lochs, on the river, and by the Caledonian Canal. However, there are some strict rules and regulations for fishing in the Highlands. Make sure to do your research before grabbing that fishing pole.

Golfing

What greener place to golf than the beautiful countryside of Scotland? There is a golf course in Fort Williams, four in Inverness, and one in Fort Augustus. Keep your swing loose at the range, practice with a short round at the nine-hole course, or play a full round; there is something for everyone along the Great Glen Way. It’s time to tee up and hit a long drive in one of the most stunning golfing landscapes in the world!

Boat Tour

As you walk along the gorgeous lochs through the Highlands, you are probably wondering what it would be like to sail across their glassy waters. You can experience this by taking a boat tour of one of the lochs. You can also take sightseeing cruises to get an up-close look at whales, dolphins, and other magnificent sea creatures! There are many tour companies in the area that offer boat cruises depending on what you want to see and which loch you want to explore!

Paddling in the Canal

Over 4,000 paddlers love coasting along the smooth waters of the Caledonian Canal each year. Some even take on the long-distance route by paddling from end to end over three to five days. We aren’t suggesting you go that far since you are already walking it, but you can take some time to get out on the water!

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If you’re looking for further information on any of our walking holidays please fill out the enquiry form and we’ll be in touch.

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