Self-Guided - Great Glen Way - Plichta

Catherine, Michael, Jessica & Marcel

Monday 1st July – Monday 8th July 2024

Number of Travellers: 4
Duration: 8 Days / 7 Nights

Overview

The Great Glen Way traverses Scotland from west to east, following the Great Glen fault line which almost splits Scotland in two.

Hiking past some of our most beautiful lochs, including Loch Ness, at 117km the Great Glen Way route is one of Scotland’s finest long-distance trails.

The trail begins in Fort William beneath the slopes of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. You will then trek north-east through spectacular scenery and past lochs Lochy, Oich and, of course, Loch Ness. The hike becomes more challenging in its second half as the path takes to the hillsides above the loch, but by then you are well warmed up to the hike. You finish the route in the capital of the Highlands, Inverness.

Highlights

  • Traverse Scotland from coast to coast on a rewarding journey through deep glens and past dramatic mountain ranges.
  • Take in the sweeping views across Loch Ness, perhaps catching a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster.
  • Enjoy moderate hiking on good trails as you hike from village to village through this spectacular geological fault line.

Day by Day

Day 1 - Monday 1st July - Arrive in Fort William

Today you’ll make your own way to Fort William where you’ll spend the night at your first guesthouse of the trip. Tomorrow morning the hike begins!

Overnight: Fort William | Fassfern Guest House
Room Type: 2x double en-suite
Meals Included: None

Day 1 - Directions Read More +

On arrival to Fort William train station, you then head through the town centre. Head under the underpass and walk through the pedestrian precinct. To reach Fassfern continue to the end of the High Street and you will be at a roundabout. Take the second exit off the roundabout and continue along Achintore Road for a short distance until you reach Fassfern clearly signposted on the left hand side of the road.

Day 1 - Fort William Read More +

Fort William sits on Loch Linnhe with the majestic Ben Nevis, at 1344m Britain’s highest mountain, as its backdrop. The town takes its name from the fort that William Prince of Orange built in 1690. Fort William was successfully held by government troops during the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745. However, the surrounding area saw great turmoil. Today, such a bloody past is difficult to imagine and the town is the main centre for visitors to the Western Highlands.

Day 2 - Tuesday 2nd July - Fort William to Gairlochy/ Spean Bridge

The route starts in Fort William and takes you close to Inverlochy Castle, built in the 1200s, then continues to the start of the Caledonian Canal. From here the journey along Scotland’s longest glen and greatest geological fault begins. Following the canal towpath, you travel up Neptune’s Staircase, a ladder of eight locks which give some of the best views of Ben Nevis, and continue along to Gairlochy.

Overnight: Spean Bridge | Coire Glas Guest House
Room Type: 2x double en-suite
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 17 km / 11 miles

Day 2 - Directions Read More +

Coire Glas is situated in the village of Spean Bridge which is 3 miles/4.8 km from the official stage end, ie Gairlochy locks. Since this is a relatively easy section of the route, you may wish to actually continue your walk into Spean Bridge itself and visit the Commando Memorial on the way. Alternatively, a transfer service is available from the b&b. If a transfer is required then on your arrival at Gairlochy Locks, please telephone Coire Glas and the patrons will be pleased to send transport to transfer you from Gairlochy to Spean Bridge.

If you decide to walk into Spean Bridge, then the directions are as follows. Your walk along the canal will take you to the canal locks at Gairlochy. Do not continue along the canal but instead turn right and take the small tarmac road (B8004) which winds initially downhill. Simply continue on this road for approximately 2 miles/3.25 km until you reach the Commando War Memorial which sits at the junction of the B8004 and the main A82 roads. At this point you can either walk down the main A82 road for one mile/1.6 km into Spean Bridge (there is a good pavement) or take the new off-road track which also leads down into Spean Bridge but is longer, ie 2 miles/3.2 km (see the attached map). Once into the village you will reach a road branching off to the left (sign-posted Roy Bridge). Turn left and walk along the road until you reach Coire Glas on the left hand side. You are welcome to check in any time after 1530hrs. The next morning, your hosts will be pleased to transfer you back to Gairlochy locks to continue your walk.

Day 2 - Gairlochy/ Spean Bridge Read More +

Spean Bridge is best known for its historical links with the Allied Commando Training during the Second World War. Thousands of troops came to Spean Bridge to train for war in the surrounding mountains and lochs, based at Achnacarry Castle. A mile north of Spean Bridge on a prominent hillside by the A82 is the world famous Commando Memorial, erected to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served their countries.

Day 3 - Wednesday 3rd July - Gairlochy/ Spean Bridge to South Laggan & Invergarry

The second day’s walk sticks fairly closely to the west shore of Loch Lochy. It follows mainly quiet, forest tracks with high mountains rising up on both sides of the loch, offering fine views. By the time you reach your accommodation, you will have hiked the length of Loch Lochy.

Overnight: South Laggan | Forest Lodge Guest House
Room Type: 2x double en-suite
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 21 km / 13 miles

Day 3 - Directions Read More +

On the latter stage of the route you will be walking along a tarmac road. As you approach the end of Loch Lochy (past Kilfinnan) you will arrive at a junction where the road goes steeply uphill in front of you. Do not walk uphill but instead go right and cross the cattle grid and walk down the road, passing by a row of wooden chalets on your left hand side (you should now be looking down Loch Lochy to your right). Continue along the road until you reach Laggan Locks. On arrival at the Locks cross the canal at the gates, turn left following the Great Glen Way signage and walk following the canal bank (past the Eagle Barge) and then through a wooded area (for approximately 0.5 miles/0.80 km) until you reach a small wooden bridge (do not cross this). Turn right to face the main road (A82), turn right again and walk down the road (using the grass verge) for approximately 0.5 miles/0.80 km to reach Forest Lodge on the right hand side of the road (once you pass the Great Glen Hostel you will see Forest Lodge in the distance). Please take care along this busy road. Alternatively, Forest Lodge can collect you from South Laggan Locks between 1500 hrs & 1700 hrs and this is recommended (a voluntary contribution towards fuel would be greatly appreciated, eg £2.00 per person). Please either call Forest Lodge on your way to Laggan Locks or upon arrival, thank you. Please see the following page for tomorrow morning’s directions.

Kindly Provided by Forest Lodge
From December 2022 until December 2024 essential forestry work will be taking place meaning the main path along the south side of Loch Oich will not be accessible and, therefore, Great Glen Way walkers will need to take the Invergarry Link route between South Laggan and Fort Augustus. This route is actually the original Great Glen Way route, it is clearly signposted with blue Great Glen Way marker posts, it has wide forestry tracks and is a very pleasant and well used route by walkers and locals alike. Please find below directions on how to access the Invergarry Link route from Forest Lodge Guest House. However, we would also be happy to drop clients off at the entrance to the forestry track which is the beginning of the Invergarry Link. If you walk from Forest Lodge then the distance to Fort Augustus is 12 miles/19.5 km and if you take us up on the lift then it is 11 miles/18 km.

Directions to the Invergarry Link route from Forest Lodge Guest House
Turn left out of the driveway, walk along the A82 (on the grass verge) until you reach the gap on the left hand side that takes you back onto the Great Glen Way. Turn right over the small wooden bridge and follow the canal path through the wooded area, along the side of the canal until it brings you out onto the corner of the main A82 road by Laggan swing bridge.
Cross the A82 and turn left, crossing the swing bridge using the footpath and following the Great Glen Way signpost. Follow the footpath over the swing bridge, past the bus stop (at this point you will cross back over the A82). Continue along the path until you reach a forest track entrance on your left hand side, clearly marked by a blue Great Glen Way marker post. Take this forest track, this is the Invergarry Link route. This track takes you into Invergarry and the path continues up the left hand side of the Invergarry Hotel, taking you to the Aberchalder Bridge at Bridge of Oich where both routes join together to take you along the canal towpath and into Fort Augustus.
This whole route is waymarked with blue Great Glen Way marker posts and clearly detailed in Great Glen Way trail books.

Day 3 - South Laggan and Invergarry Read More +

You will be walking through land owned by the Cameron’s of Lochiel. Nearby is Clunes where Bonnie Prince Charlie hid in a cave for two weeks after his escape from Culloden. South Laggan saw the Clan Battle of the Shirts in 1544 (Gaelic: Blar na Léine, also the Battle of Kinloch-Lochy). The Clan Donald and their allies Clan Cameron fought the Clan Fraser and men from Clan Grant. Legend has it that the day was so hot that both sides threw off their plaids, fighting in their shirts. However, Blar na Léine is merely a corruption of Blar na Leana, ‘the Field of the Swampy Meadow.’

Day 4 - Thursday 4th July - Invergarry to Fort Augustus

You hike along the east shore of Loch Oich, joining the famous Caledonian Canal at the north end of the Loch. This is one of the easier days on the trail so take your time and enjoy the scenery. After leaving Loch Oich behind, you follow the canal to Fort Augustus at the southern end of Loch Ness, which stretches into the distance in front of you.

Overnight: Fort Augustus | Bank House
Room Type: 2x double en-suite
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 15 km / 10 miles

Day 4 - Directions Read More +

As you approach Fort Augustus on the Caledonian Canal you will reach a series of loch gates on your right hand side. Cross over any of the gates to take you to the other side of the canal. There are a network of Rights of Ways which lead off the canal side and through to Station Road. Once on Station Road, turn left and walk down the hill for a short distance until you reach Bank House on the right hand side of the road. Alternatively, if you prefer to visit the village first, then continue along the canal until it reaches the main (A82 road). Turn right and walk along the road and over the swing bridge. Station Road will then be the second turning on the right. Take this right turn and walk up Station Road until you reach Bank House on the left hand side of the road.

Day 4 - Fort Augustus Read More +

Fort Augustus is named after King George II’s younger son, Prince William Augustus the Duke of Cumberland, also known as ‘Butcher Cumberland’ as he suppressed and destroyed the highlanders and their clan system. In the aftermath of the final ‘clan’ defeat at Culloden in 1746 Augustus made his headquarters in the fort named after him 25 years earlier. Very little remains of the original fort, parts of which were incorporated into the Benedictine Abbey built in 1876. The monks left in 1998 when they were unable to sustain their community and the abbey. The original Gaelic name of the village was Cille Chumein (the church of Chumein).

Running through the village is the River Oich and the impressive Caledonian Canal and lock system built by Thomas Telford in the early 1800’s. Next to the locks is the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre which gives an insight into the history of the canal. Also in the village is the Clansman Centre where you can learn about clan life 500 years ago.

Day 5 - Friday 5th July - Fort Augustus to Invermoriston

Today you will walk along the west side of the world famous Loch Ness. There are two route options – a high and lower level route. Both are the same overall length but the higher one obviously adds more ascent. It also provides some of the best views of the trip above the forest and the loch, stretching on for miles and miles. The higher route is therefore usually preferred, but if you want an easier day you can stay lower down.

Overnight: Invermoriston | Bracarina House
Room Type: 1x double en-suite, 1x twin en-suite
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 15 km / 10 miles

Day 5 - Directions Read More +

The Great Glen Way will take you down on to the main (A82) road. Turn left and follow the road until you reach the junction where the A82 and the A887 (to Skye) meet. Continue along the A82 for only a short distance and you will arrive at Bracarina B&B on the left hand side, the first house on the left after the hotel (clearly signposted).

Day 5 - Invermoriston Read More +

Invermoriston dates back to circa 1600 and in the 1640’s a sawmill was in operation processing the surrounding forests for export by boat. The military roads were built along the Great Glen in the 1700’s and passed to the east side of Loch Ness, leaving Invermoriston heavily dependent on water transport. The first roads were built by Thomas Telford in 1813 along the west side of Loch Ness and towards Glen Shiel. This small village is steeped in Jacobite romance, like the legendary Seven Men of Moriston and rebel hero Roderick MacKenzie, killed in 1745 by English Soldiers who mistook him for Bonny Prince Charlie.

The village’s most popular attraction is the old Telford Bridge which crosses the spectacular River Moriston falls. This bridge was part of the main road between Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus. A new bridge was built in the 1930’s and still carries a stream of traffic today.

Day 6 - Saturday 6th July - Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit

Today you again have the choice of a high or low level route, however, this only affects the first part of the day. Either way, there is still a fair amount of ascent today. The high level option climbs a hill beside Drumnadrochit, offering superb views again before descending gradually through forest to rejoin the original route. The low option skirts past this hill through forestry. After the paths rejoin you will pass the tiny hamlet of Bunloit – this marks halfway along Loch Ness. From here there is a section along a quiet road before a steep trail descends to Drumnadrochit and day’s end.

Overnight: Drumnadrochit | Loch Ness Inn
Room Type: 2x double en-suite
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 23 km / 14 miles

Day 6 - Directions Read More +

The latter stages of the route towards Drumnadrochit will take you down the hill past Clunebeg Lodge and onto the main A82 road. Turn left and walk along the road over the bridge and then take the first left after crossing the bridge, ie the last turning on the left before the Esso garage. You will see the Loch Ness Inn clearly signposted thereafter on the left hand side of the road.

Day 6 - Drumnadrochit Read More +

Drumnadrochit lies on the West shore of Loch Ness at the head of Glen Urquhart and is the main centre for Monster watching! The first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster was made by Saint Columba in the sixth century and millions of people have visited the Loch since then with the same ambition. There are two exhibitions in the village devoted to Nessie. The centre of Drumnadrochit is very attractive with a village green and a splendid miniature model of Urquhart Castle made from hedges and plants. The magnificently situated Urquhart Castle, just south of the town on the banks of Loch Ness, remains an impressive stronghold despite its ruinous state. Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart’s remains include a tower house that commands splendid views of the famous loch and Great Glen. The castle’s history and that of the noble families, Durward, Macdonald and Grant, is told in the exhibition in the visitor centre.

Day 7 - Sunday 7th July - Drumnadrochit to Inverness

The final day is a long trek but with straightforward walking on decent trails and a short section of quiet road. After about 4km the route leaves Loch Ness and heads inland, climbing up onto open hillside where you are rewarded with more views down Loch Ness and the Great Glen. You descend gradually through the forest as you walk north and meet the River Ness at the edge of Inverness. The last few miles follow the river bank, finishing in the city centre with views across the river to Inverness Castle.

On reaching Inverness today, you will have traversed Scotland from coast to coast along its most natural route, the Great Glen. On arrival in Inverness, settle into your accommodation then decide whether you need an early night, or if it is time to celebrate your success!

Overnight: Inverness | Eskdale Guest House
Room Type: 1x double en-suite (no overnight accommodation for Jessica and Marcel)
Meals Included: Breakfast
Walk Details: 32 km / 20 miles

Day 7 - Directions Read More +

From the end of the Way exit, the Castle grounds through the main gate. Continue downhill for 125 yards/110 metres and turn right onto Castle Road. With the River Ness on your left continue along Castle Road and soon you will reach Young Street Bridge on the left. Cross the bridge and continue straight on after crossing. You will pass Huntly Street on your right and then you will soon reach a turning to the right for King Street. Turn right and walk down King Street until you arrive at a T-junction which leads on to Greig Street. Turn left and walk up Greig Street for a short distance until you reach Eskdale clearly signposted on the right hand side of the road.

Day 7 - Inverness Read More +

Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, became Scotland’s fifth city at the millennium. It lies at the north end of the Great Glen, where the River Ness flows into the Moray Firth. The origins of Inverness lie on its western edge at the now wooded crag of Craig Phadrig. A fortress atop this crag was a capital of the Pictish kings from as early as the 400’s AD. A settlement was established by sixth century AD with the first royal charter being granted in the thirteenth century. In 1727 Fort George was built in the town, a large fortress capable of housing 400 troops. Fort George surrendered to the Jacobites when they took Inverness in February 1746 before their eventual defeat at nearby Culloden in April that year. After the garrison had surrendered the Jacobites laid explosives and destroyed Fort George. The red stone Inverness Castle you see today was built in the 1830s to house courts and administrative buildings.

Day 8 - Monday 8th July - Depart Inverness

After breakfast this morning you can start your journey homeward. On the way home you’ll have time to look back and reflect on a memorable hike across Scotland.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Trip Details

Inclusions Read More
  • Accommodation on a Bed and Breakfast basis in Guest Houses, Bed and Breakfasts, Small Hotels and Inns on the route
  • Luggage transfer for 1 bag per person for the duration of the trip, meaning you will only have to carry a day rucksack. Strict weight limit of 18kg per bag.
  • Route notes which include a map and full directions to your accommodation.
  • The services of the Wilderness Scotland Team prior to & during your trip.
Notes Read More

LUGGAGE TRANSFER DETAILS

Your door to door luggage transfer service has been organised with Loch Ness Hub Limited. There is no need to contact the company as everything will be arranged for you. However, if you do need to contact them, they can be reached on 01463 832566 or [email protected] (Russell or Katie). Loch Ness Hub have advised that the email is monitored pretty much 24/7 so should be used for any out of hours communications.

Your bags (one per person) will be transported from and to the individual establishments where you are staying. Your bags should be available for collection each morning at around 0930 hrs. Please also note that each bag should weigh no more than strictly 18kg or an additional sum may be levied at the discretion of the carrier. Loch Ness Hub will provide luggage labels that will be attached to your bags once they are collected from your accommodation after your first overnight. Please clearly label your bags with your names for collection on the first morning.

INSURANCE FOR EXPENSIVE ITEMS

Loch Ness Travel has requested that high-value items such as expensive cameras/watches/binoculars and/or fragile electrical items are not carried within the suitcase/rucksack to be transported by Loch Ness Travel.
Although general insurance is in place to cover clothing/footwear etc., it does not cover the above mentioned items so clients should ensure that their own holiday/home insurance provides sufficient cover.

BED & BREAKFAST

Breakfast is included at all stages of your trip.

PACKED LUNCHES

These are not included but can be ordered from most establishments, provided that you order upon arrival. Alternatively, on most days there are cafes, shops or restaurants where you can buy lunch on route. Your accommodation host will be able to advise you on this.

EVENING MEALS

These are not included but are available locally at all stages. We recommend booking your dinner reservations in advance to ensure you get a table.

DIETARY/MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS

Please advise the accommodation owners on arrival if you are vegetarian, vegan or have any other special dietary requirements.

ACCOMMODATION BOOKINGS

Since your accommodation has been booked on your behalf by Wilderness Scotland, it may be necessary to quote our name as a reference on arrival at your accommodation.

IMPORTANT – LATE ARRIVALS

Accommodation providers ask walkers to telephone them to advise if they intend to arrive any later than 1800 hrs. Walkers who do not arrive at their intended overnight stop will cause grave concern in respect of safety, so co‐ operation in this matter is greatly appreciated. Contact phone numbers for all of your accommodations are provided in this pack.

CANCELLATION

If you decide that you cannot continue your walk, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can contact the establishments concerned.

CREDIT CARDS

The majority of establishments will accept credit cards (Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted but not Diners or American Express).

INSURANCE

Our aim is for you to have the best experience possible whilst in Scotland. We are aware that unforeseen circumstances can be quite challenging so our advice to all of our guests is to take out relevant insurance to help make things less of a challenge if the unforeseen happens.

If travelling from a European country outside the UK your insurance policy should include medical cover, curtailment, sickness & injury cancellation prior to the trip and personal accident cover. We also strongly recommend you have cover for other travel and personal effects.

If travelling from within the UK, we recommend you are insured for personal sickness & injury cancellation prior to the trip and any travel insurance you feel appropriate to your needs.

If travelling from further afield, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc it is best to research insurance locally to cover all your travel and medical needs.

WALKING ROUTE NOTES

All routes are undertaken entirely at your own risk. Ensure you are properly equipped with sufficient food, suitable footwear and wind and waterproof outdoor clothing. Take the relevant Map with you and familiarise yourself with the use of a compass and bring this with you at all times. Please leave brief details of your intended route and anticipated return time with your accommodation hosts. Please confirm with them that you have returned safely at the end of your day.

All route timings are calculated on the time we would expect a reasonably fit person to complete the route with minimal stops. Please allow longer if you intend to relax and enjoy the views to the full, or if you feel your fitness levels are lower.

These route notes are intended as helpful guidance only. You should be experienced in reading maps and using a compass prior to undertaking any walks in upland areas or remote coastal locations. You must use your judgment in order to decide whether the suggested daily route is within your capabilities, giving careful consideration to the wind and weather conditions on the day. You are solely responsible for your own safety and well‐being in wilderness areas and you must undertake all walks at your own risk.

While we will do everything we possibly can to assist you in the unfortunate event of any accident or mishap, Wilderness Scotland Ltd will accept no responsibility for any accident or injury sustained during the course of your self‐guided walking holiday.

FARM ANIMALS

A few sections of the Way will take you through farmland and occasionally near farm animals. Farm animals are normally docile creatures and usually only show interest in you if there is food on offer. Please don’t feed the animals. All animals are protective of their young so do not put yourself between a cow and its calf for example.

General rules for safe walking and to avoid distressing farm animals:
• Do not come between animals and their young
• Pass quickly, quietly, carefully and well away from animals
• Stay well away from any farm animal grouping or herd
• Watch the animals as you pass and be alert to any danger
• If you have a dog keep your dog on a leash
• Be prepared for cows to react to your presence especially if you have a dog
• If cows become agitated then calmly get yourself out of danger. If you have a dog let it go and call it to you when you are safe.

Every situation is different so please remember that you are on someone else’s land and if there are farm animals around it is a working environment.
Please refer to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for more information: https://www.nature.scot/sites/default/files/2018-05/Publication%202005%20- %20Scottish%20Outdoor%20Access%20Code.pdf

Important Contact Numbers Read More
Wilderness Scotland Office | 9:00am – 5:30pm Monday – Friday

UK: +44 (0)1479 420 020
US: 866 740 3890


Out of Office Hours | 5:30pm – 9:00am

+44 (0)7766 794 640

Please only use this number for matters that cannot wait until the office is open again.


Emergency Services

999

Important Additional Information Read More
Terms & Conditions Read More

Please see our booking terms here.

Get in Touch


Accommodation

Fassfern Guest House

Achintore Road | Fort William |
PH33 6RQ | Phone: +44 (0)1397 704298
Web: fassfernguesthouse.com

Coire Glas Guest House

Roy Bridge Road | Spean Bridge |
PH34 4EU | Phone: +44 (0)1397 712 272
Web: coireglas.co.uk

Forest Lodge Guest House

South Laggan |
PH34 4EA | Phone: +44 (0)1809 501219
Web: forestlodgeguesthouse.co.uk

Bank House

Station Road | Fort Augustus | Loch Ness |
PH32 4AY | Scotland
Phone: +44 (0)1320 366 755
Web: visitlochness.co.uk

Bracarina House

Invermoriston |
IV63 7YA | Phone: +44 (0)1320 351 279
Web: bracarinahouse.co.uk

Loch Ness Inn

Lewiston | Drumnadrochit | Inverness-shire |
IV63 6UW | Phone: +44 (0)1456 450 991
Web: staylochness.co.uk

Eskdale Guest House

41 Greig Street | Inverness |
IV3 5PX | Phone: +44 (0) 1463 240 933
Web: eskdale-guesthouse.co.uk