The Great Glen Way Route
Càite a bheil Slighe a' Ghlinne Mhòir
For a breakdown of the new route distances (revised in October 2011), please click here (pdf, 343kb).
The route begins at the Old Fort in Fort William in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain. From here it skirts the shores of Loch Linnhe to join the historic Caledonian Canal at Corpach.
From Corpach, the journey along Scotland's longest Glen and greatest geological fault begins. The canal towpath is followed to Gairlochy, passing several interesting canal features such as Neptune's Staircase and the awesome aqueducts. Please note there is no cafe at Gairlochy.
The next part of the route, mainly on forest tracks, hugs the peaceful western shores of Loch Lochy. There are splendid views as you pass below towering mountains, two of which are 'Munros'.
The Canal comes back into sight and you rejoin the towpath at Laggan Locks, where you are close to the site of the Clan Battle of the Shirts in 1544. From here the route leads you into Laggan Avenue, a lovely canalside path through a fine variety of tall trees established by Thomas Telford.
This takes you almost to Laggan swing bridge where you can cross the A82 to find the secluded eastern shores of Loch Oich. Following first the old railway line, abandoned in 1946, and then a section of General Wade's Military Road, you follow the tranquil shores of the loch through beautiful mixed woodland where wildlife abounds. Alternatively you can follow the Invergarry Link through the forest along the north side of the Loch. Although more strenuous, it offers some superb views of Loch Oich and surrounding hills.
Great Glen Way follows the shores of Loch Oich
Both routes emerge at Aberchalder swing bridge where you once again join the canal towpath for a scenic walk to Fort Augustus passing the delightful Kytra and Cullochy Locks. Passing through historic Fort Augustus you may catch sight of the grand and imposing Abbey, which until recently housed Benedictine monks.
From Fort Augustus you start the first real climb, but the reward is a series of breathtaking views back over the village and across Loch Ness as you follow high forest tracks to Invermoriston. As you come into the tiny village and cross the mighty river Moriston, have a look at the splendid old bridge - another Telford design.
The Great Glen Way North of Drumnadrochit
Another steep climb and yet more dramatic views are in store as you leave the village and continue mainly along forest tracks to emerge at the crofting community of Grotaig. A quiet minor road is followed through crofting land, high above Loch Ness, until you turn off and descend through woodland to the River Coiltie and on to Drumnadrochit.
The route passes through the heart of the bustling village and centre of the Nessie industry. Leaving the roadside, it then climbs steadily through farmland offering unforgettable views back over Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle before entering the woodland and winding its way up, with occasional glimpses of the Loch and far away the east coast of Scotland comes in to sight. A short section across exposed, rugged heather moorland and you are nearly at Abriachan, another hill crofting community.
A lovely quiet stretch along a minor road, with wide ranging views across the crofts and over to far away hills, takes you to Blackfold.
Here the route turns into Craig Leach forest, emerging at the reservoir where you get a dramatic view of your destination, Inverness, with the Moray Firth stretching out behind it. Winding downhill, you pass close to Leachkin chambered cairn, and approach the city.
Pleasant canalside and riverside paths lead you through the city to Inverness Castle, in the heart of the Highland capital.
A free leaflet about What to see on the Ways (pdf, 1mb) is available for download.
Want to get planning your trip? Check out our Route Stages webpage for some suggested itineraries.