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.