The Great Glen Way stretching for 73 miles was opened on 30th April 2002. The Way starts at Fort William, near the foot of Ben Nevis (Britain's highest peak, which can be readily ascended if you choose to spend an extra day), follows the shores of the famous Loch Ness, and finishes at Inverness, Scotland’s north-most city and the “capital of the highlands”. Most of the walking is straightforward, along canal towpaths and forest tracks, but there are some more challenging sections on the last couple of days.
If you have two weeks, this tour would be interesting to do in combination with The West Highland Way which finishes in Fort William.
The Great Glen Way begins at a Obelisk marker stone near the railway station, actually in part of the remains of the original Fort William which has mostly been deconstructed to make room for the railway and the main road. The sea defences however do show something of their old form. From the start point you walk out by the River Lochy towards the remains of attractive Inverlochy castle. You may see an engine of the Fort William to Mallaig steam railway also known as the Hogwart’s Express in the Harry Potter Films. Walk beside the seaside estates of Caol before reaching the Locks at Corpach where you about turn to start along the Caledonian Canal and up the Neptune’s Staircase series of Locks. After the lock, the next 8 miles or so to Gairlochy are pretty flat, but attractive. Take a break perhaps at the attractive Moy Swing Bridge which still has to be opened for craft. There are a number of B&Bs on the road between Gairlochy and Spean Brige. You will pass the Commando Memorial a mile before Spean Bridge. Accommodation in Spean is spread out over quite a distance, so try to get your location fixed.
A mainly easy walk today, but it does have two short steep ascents. You will be walking on a mixture of tarmac, forest paths and tracks. Two miles after the start of your walk, you could take a side trip to Clan Cameron Museum (check open times) and Cia-aig waterfall, which featured in the film ‘Rob Roy,’ before rejoining the Way at Clunes. From Clunes all the way to Kilfinnan, you walk on forest tracks, you will get splendid views of Loch Lochy with the mountains behind. Arrive at South Laggan Locks. 12 miles/19km. Usually you will stay at Invergarry and your accommodation can normally collect you if you phone from the public call box there.
An easy walk today. The terrain is a mixture of tarmac, railway track bed, old military road, then canal towpath. You will enter the Leiterfearn nature reserve, enjoying the wonderful ash, birch, elm and hazel woodland. If you have time you could walk up Meall a’Cholumain from Fort Augustus which is a great viewpoint. Fort Augustus was largely built in 1729 as the hub of General Wade’s military road building programme to calm the highlanders after Culloden and there are 5 Locks at the centre of town on the Caledonian Canal and several museums. There are some great restaurants here and you might get in with enough time for a short cruise on Loch Ness.
A harder day today with steeper ascents. You will climb through a forest of birch and pine, beside a stream and uphill to a forest track. You should get some dramatic views of Loch Ness at intervals through the woods. Walk through the village of Invermoriston with its little bridge built by Thomas Telford. The Invermoriston Hotel is a great place to eat and has around 200 species of malt whisky. They also have great beer from The Skye Brewery. There are nice leafy walks down by the river.
A moderate day of walking with some steep sections. There is quite a bit of undulation today, but hopefully you’ll be used to the walking now! For strong walkers in good weather you could ascend Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh from where you may get views from Ben Nevis all the way to Inverness. You can take excursions to Urquhart Castle with commanding views over Lochness, with café and an interpretational centre. You end up at Drumnadrochit, an attractive ‘Green Village’that has a Loch Ness Monster visitor’s centre…or two!
Today is a long day with a steep 400m ascent out of Drumnadrochit. Especially if you want to see something of Inverness. You may want to think about shortening the tour by arranging a taxi transfer to take you from the town to near to Loch Laide, famous for its very clean water. Descend to Blackford and into the Great Glen once again meeting the Caledonian Canal before reaching Inverness, a beautiful city of past and modern, although mostly Victorian. There is a lot to do here: The Inverness City Museum, The Castle, Theatre, riverside rambles and a number of superb restaurants such as The Riverside restaurant or The Mustard Seed. If you have an extra day cruises are available into the Moray Firth to look for dolphins. If you are interested in History, then either hop on to a local bus or visit the tourist office to arrange a tour to the site of The Battle of Culloden, to the Clava Stones ancient burial site, or to Fort George: the huge Hanoverian fort that still act as garrison.
Fort William & Inverness are both accessible via Glasgow. Refer to www.nationalrail.co.uk
From Glasgow or Edinburgh catch the 'CityLink' bus to Fort William and return from Inverness.
Glasglow is the closest major International Airport to Fort William. From the airport you catch the airport bus to Glasgow Buchanan Street Bus Station from where you take the 'Citylink' bus to Fort William.