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Holidays

Self-Guided Walking: The Great Glen Way

Scotland
Walk & Trek
Self-Guided
LEISURELY LEISURELY

A magnificent Scottish coast to coast walk, stretching from Fort William in the west, along the shores of Loch Ness, to Inverness in the east

Trip Code: MGG8
Holiday Grades

Our Holiday Grades Explained

To show the relative difficulty of our holidays, each trip is graded on a scale of 1 to 12, with 12 being the most challenging. Although we have tried to make our grading system as clear as possible, it cannot take into account your personal interests, abilities or experience. If you have any questions about the nature of a particular trip or its suitability for you, please read the 'Is this holiday for you?' section or contact us.

 1 - 3 LEISURELY
1 - 3 LEISURELY

Suitable for most people in good health, holidays at this grade include only limited amounts of activity.

View leisurely holidays
4 - 6 MODERATE
4 - 6 MODERATE

Suitable for reasonably fit individuals, such as weekend walkers and cyclists. There can be the occasional more difficult day.

View moderate holidays
7 - 9 CHALLENGING
7 - 9 CHALLENGING

Physically challenging holidays, where you need to be prepared before you go.

View challenging holidays
10 - 12 TOUGH
10 - 12 TOUGH

Our toughest holidays, involving many long days, often in isolated areas. A high level of fitness and previous wilderness and mountain experience is essential.

View Tough holidays

Self-Guided Walking: The Great Glen Way

Highlights
  • Enjoy panoramic Highlands scenery without the climbing on this classic self-guided walking holiday
  • Walk from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland, all 73 miles of it on foot, along the route of the Victorian Caledonian canal
  • Walk the shores of Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and the most majestic and mysterious of them all, Loch Ness
  • Add an additional rest day at Drumnadroichit, cruise Loch Ness and explore medieval Scottish life at Castle Urquhart
  • Extensive route notes, recommendations for local meals, daily luggage transfers and B&B in local guesthouses included in the holiday price

At a Glance
  • Self-guided
  • 7 days walking
  • Average of 16 km per day walking
  • Packed lunches available on request
  • Recommendations for excellent local meals
  • Join In Fort William / Ends in Inverness

Accommodation & Meals
  • 8 Breakfasts
  • 8 nights Guesthouse
Overview

Opened in 2002 and one of Scotland’s Great Trails, the Great Glen Way follows the route of the Caledonian Canal 73 miles coast to coast from Loch Linnhe in the west, alongside Loch Ness, to Inverness in the east. This moderately paced self-guided walking holiday offers the opportunity to savour the best of Scottish Highland’s scenery without much climbing involved.

Expect stunning scenery every day plus beautiful low-level hills bursting with heather and some fascinating highlights. These include views of Scotland’s highest mountain Ben Nevis, which looms over Fort William and Neptune’s Staircase, a series of Victorian locks near the strait of the Caledonian Canal. You’ll encounter several beautiful highland lochs, Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and, the most famous of them all, the mighty Loch Ness which contains more water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined in its mysterious depths. On its banks at Drumnadrochit or the ‘Drum’ as it’s known, sits the castle of Urquhart, an iconic romantic ruin jutting out into the loch – you can take a rest day here and enjoy a cruise on Loch Ness and an exploration of the castle which will give you an insight into medieval Scotland.

The trip includes all accommodation, breakfast and full luggage support meaning you can travel light and concentrate on the panoramic Highland scenery and its fascinating history.

We offer a range of itineraries depending on your preferred daily walking distance ranging between 5 days walking and 7 days walking.

Is this holiday for you?

The Great Glen Way is a very appealing walk on good terrain. It is easier than the West Highland Way as it is less strenuous, but it still requires good planning and preparation. No problem for regular walkers!Terrain: The route generally follows the Caledonian Canal, loch shores, and well made forest trails on the lower slopes.What’s it like underfoot? Pretty good. Well maintained canal towpath …

The Great Glen Way is a very appealing walk on good terrain. It is easier than the West Highland Way as it is less strenuous, but it still requires good planning and preparation. No problem for regular walkers!Terrain: The route generally follows the Caledonian Canal, loch shores, and well made forest trails on the lower slopes.What’s it like underfoot? Pretty good. Well maintained canal towpaths and forest tracks. Shorter sections can be rougher or muddy, so good footwear is essential.How Much Up & Down? Amazingly little considering the size of the surrounding mountains! Some short steep ascents and a longer climb of 300m to Blackfold on the final day.Signposting: Generally good, but use you map and guidebook as well.Navigation: Pretty straightforward. You may encounter hill fog on the moorland around Blackfold, but the route is well defined.Weather: You may be lucky enough to encounter warm, dry weather over the whole route and enjoy dry paths and tremendous views, but you must be prepared because the weather can change quickly. Good clothing and waterproofs essential!

Why KE?

We operate this trip in collaboration with our sister company Mickledore Travel, which is also based in Keswick in the Lake District. Mickledore have a long tradition of operating self-guided walking holidays along some of the finest trails in England, Scotland and Wales. Route notes, maps, luggage transfers and bed & breakfast accommodation in the best B&Bs, guesthouses and inns along the way are all included. Recommendations are also made for the best places to find delicious local meals at each night stop.

Mickledore have a near perfect customer satisfaction score (99%), and we have no doubt that you will find their knowledgeable and friendly team able to answer even the most detailed of questions.

Different durations of this holiday are available on request.

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Itinerary

Arrive at your accommodation in Fort William.

Accommodation

Guesthouse

The route starts in Fort William, on the shores of Loch Linnhe and in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain. Views of the mountain and its fearsome North Face cliffs can be seen over much of this section, weather permitting. The route leaves the shores of Loch Linnhe, heading inland past Neptune's Staircase, a series of locks near the strait of the Caledonian Canal. From here the route takes the riverside path and canal towpath to highland villages of Gairlochy, at the foot of Loch Lochy.

Accommodation

Guesthouse

Meals

B

Ascent

87 M

Distance

16 KM

This section follows the northern bank of Loch Lochy for its entire length. It is characterised by fairly easy walking on forestry tracks, footpaths and minor roads. There are spectacular views over Loch Lochy to the high mountains beyond.

Accommodation

Guesthouse

Meals

B

Ascent

269 M

Distance

21 KM

The canal towpath and old railway track bed take the route along the tree clad shores of Loch Oich, a nature reserve resplendent with native woodlands and wild flowers. There are views across the Loch to the ruins of Invergarry Castle, once the seat of the famous MacDonnells clan.

Accommodation

Guesthouse

Meals

B

Ascent

152 M

Distance

16 KM

Fort Augustus, established by General Wade in 1729 in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising in 1715 marks the start of your time walking the shores of the iconic Loch Ness. St Benedicts Abbey and cruises on Loch Ness provide diversions here.

Accommodation

Guesthouse

Meals

B

Ascent

347 M

Distance

13 KM

After a steep climb out of Invermoriston with fine views of Loch Ness, you will walk on steep undulating forest tracks until Grotaig. From here the trail changes to moorland and farmland with views over the Great Glen and onwards to Drumnadrochit, known locally as "Drum." You could take a rest day here to visit the impressive Urquhart Castle and cruise on the mighty Loch Ness.

Accommodation

Guesthouse

Meals

B

Ascent

736 M

Distance

23 KM

There are no services or accommodations at Blackfold - the half way point of the Drumnadrochit to Inverness leg. For this reason, first thing in the morning a taxi will take you to Blackfold where you will walk this section "in reverse" back to Drumnadrochit for a second night stay at the same accommodation. This section is stunning in "reverse" as you have a fantastic view of Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness. The following morning, the taxi takes you back to Blackfold to continue your walk to Inverness.

Accommodation

Guesthouse

Meals

B

Ascent

265 M

Distance

18 KM

A day of varied walking through woodland and finishing on the rural paths of Ness Islands before viewing the impressive setting of Inverness Castle, where this walk finishes.

Accommodation

Guesthouse

Meals

B

Ascent

34 M

Distance

11 KM

Enjoy a relaxing breakfast at your accommodation. Depart after breakfast.

Meals

B
Download Trip Notes
The Route
Point Point
Trek

Essential Information

We've compiled some of our Frequently Asked Questions to help you learn more about this amazing trip.

  • All accommodation as described
  • Meals as described in the Meal Plan
  • Self-guided information pack containing your map and route notes
  • Luggage Transport
  • OPTIONAL EXTRAS
  • Packed lunches
  • Off road parking (available at most locations)
  • Arrangement of return transport

  • Some meals as described in the Meal Plan
  • Transport to the start and away from the finish
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal equipment
  • Any additional activities/excursions indicated as optional

This holiday is operated by our sister company, Mickledore Travel. KE is not acting as an agent, but is marketing the holiday on Mickledore’s behalf. All bookings and payments will be processed by Mickledore, and you will enter into an agreement directly with them under the terms of their booking conditions.

You will be posted your self-guided holiday pack once we have received the balance (normally around 8 weeks before the start of your holiday).  We supply one holiday pack per booking and this will be posted to the person that made the booking. Extra packs can be purchased at £30 per pack. Please contact us a minimum of 6 weeks in advance if you require an extra pack. 

Your holiday pack comprises of:

  • Your itinerary with details of each night’s accommodation; information on your evening meals, as well as luggage transport and transfers, (where applicable).
  • Directions and detailed maps to each accommodation
  • A guidebook that describes the route in detail, and covers the whole route with a series of maps, as well as providing a wealth of background information.
  • Map(s) which cover the entire route(s).
  • Luggage Tags (if luggage transport booked) which the luggage courier will use to identify your bags.
  • Information on local facilities, such as cafes and other recommended places to eat, cash points, taxi companies, etc.

As part of the standard charge we will issue the following:

  • 1 guidebook and map for up to 4 people
  • 2 guidebooks and maps for 5-7 people
  • 3 guidebooks and maps for 8 people or more

You may purchase extra copies from us at a discounted price.

This holidays starts at your accommodation in Fort William. All of our self-guided holidays are sold on a land only basis allowing you the flexibility to choose the travel method which best suits you.

Detailed instructions on getting to your first night's and returning from your last night's accommodation by car, or on foot from the nearest train or bus station, will also be included in the holiday pack on individual accommodation maps.

This holiday is on a B&B basis. Packed lunches are available on request, and we have many recommendations for excellent local meals.

Water is drinkable from the taps on this holiday. Please fill your personal bottles for your day in the morning. We do not encourage the purchasing of single use plastic bottles.

Your evening meal isn’t included in the package, but we include full details and recommendations for each evening meal in your itinerary. You will normally be within walking distance of a pub and/or restaurant, or where there is good food available at the accommodation, we’ll book that for you. Allow about £20 per person per night.


Pack lunches can be provided on this holiday for an additional cost, from £55 per person. We recommend this as there will not always be a handy shop or cafe on the route.

Whilst we can cater for vegetarians, albeit sometimes with a more limited choice, we cannot always provide special diets.  Due to the nature of some of the trips that we operate and the countries in which we operate them, it can be very hard (and sometimes impossible) to cater for a wide range of dietary choices and you may have to supplement your diet with food/snacks from home.  If you have specific dietary requirements please do speak to our sales team and they will be able to advise you whether or not we will be able to offer your specific choice.  Please note that we are unable to provide separate menus and cannot accept liability for any problems arising from special dietary requirements or intolerances.



Good accommodation and friendly hosts are an essential part of any holiday. We understand this and go out of our way to find the best. We put a great deal of effort into hand picking our accommodation and matching it to individual customer requirements. As well as visiting the accommodation ourselves, we ask all our customers to complete a short evaluation on each night’s accommodation, which then gives us an insight in to the day-to-day operation, and lets us spot any potential issues before they become a problem.

We use a variety of accommodation, including small country house hotels, guest houses in market towns, bed and breakfasts in farm houses, country cottages and Victorian town houses. In selecting the accommodation we look for helpful, friendly hosts with good quality, characterful accommodation close to the trail. For example, over the course of your trip you might stay in a village inn, a bed and breakfast in a converted barn, a Victorian guest house, on a working farm, and in a Georgian hotel.

We always try to arrange en suite accommodation, i.e. rooms with their own bathrooms for each night of your stay. However, in some of the more remote locations accommodation is limited and occasionally we may have to book rooms with shared bathrooms for one or two nights of your holiday, (especially if the booking is made at short notice), but we will always let you know if this is likely to be the case.

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required, and you should have at least 2 blank pages for each country that you visit.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Please ensure that you check for the latest advice before travel. For the most up to date information on entry requirements, please visit the UK Government website.

If you have a severe allergy please inform the KE office before you travel. We will do all we can to help, but we cannot guarantee an allergy free environment on KE trips. You will need to carry your own treatment for the allergy with you, as 'adrenaline auto-injectors' are not carried as standard by KE leaders and staff. You should inform your leader on arrival of your allergy, and let them know where you keep your adrenaline pen.

Severe Allergies

Please inform our KE Sales and support team of any severe allergies you may have before travel. We will always do our best to help but we are unable to guarantee an allergy free environment on our KE trips. We advise that you always carry your own treatment for the allergy with you such as 'adrenaline auto-injectors' if required.  We also recommend that you discuss this with your accommodation on arrival so that they can better assist you.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's ‘Travel Aware campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas. The 'Travel Aware' website provides a single, authoritative source of advice for all kinds of travellers and we recommend that prior to travel, all KE clients visit the official UK Government website at travelaware.campaign.gov.uk and read the FCDO Travel Advice for their chosen destination. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: www.travel.state.gov for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCDO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCDO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

KE do not encourage the use of single use plastic items. We are ensuring that our agents all over the world are working together to reduce the problem and educate those around them. We are leading by example in our KE office by reducing our plastic use.

It is an essential condition of joining a holiday with KE Adventure Travel that you have a valid travel insurance policy to cover the cost of medical treatment and to protect the value of your holiday in the event of cancellation.  When taking out insurance please ensure the policy you choose covers you for the activities and altitude included in your itinerary.

For appropriate insurance cover we recommend Campbell Irvine Direct.  Please go to our Travel Insurance page for further information and to get a quote.

Please note that a paper copy of your travel insurance is required if you are travelling to Huaraz and the Huayhuash region.

Where luggage transport is included in the price, this will be a standard of 1 piece of luggage per person, usually up to 20kg in weight. On some routes the weight limit may be less, but we will advise you if this is the case. If you leave your luggage at your accommodation in the morning, it will be waiting for you on arrival at the B&B that evening. Any extra bags can be transported (at an additional charge) as long as they are pre-booked.

On certain holidays we also offer a storage service for extra luggage not needing to be transported for the holiday. Please contact us for for information on which holidays and a quotation.

All you need to carry is a small day sack to hold your waterproofs, personal items, packed lunch, map, guidebook and camera. You should be prepared for all weathers, at all times of year.

YOU SHOULD BRING THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:

  • Walking boots – need to be comfortable and well broken in
  • Several pairs of thick walking socks
  • Mittens/gloves
  • Warm hat and/or sun hat
  • Raincoat: (waterproof and windproof with a hood)
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Thermal long-johns & thermal top
  • Jacket
  • Fleece tops
  • Fleece or polypropylene trousers (no denim or cotton)
  • Spare clothing for the evening
  • Shorts and t-shirt (ideally made from synthetic fibres)
  • Map case
  • Compass
  • Torch: with spare batteries
  • First aid kit: insect repellent, sunscreen, blister kits, pain relief and assorted bandages
  • Water bottle
  • Walking poles (if you already use these)
  • Small day sack (20-30L) for carrying your personal items
  • Day sack liner / black bin bag / day sack waterproof cover
  • Camera and memory card
  • Phone and charger
  • Binoculars
  • Sunglasses
  • Whistle
  • GPS (if you already use one)

Cotswold Outdoor Red PantonMany of the Equipment items listed above are available from Cotswold Outdoor - our 'Official Recommended Outdoor Retailer'. When you book a holiday with KE you will receive 12.5% discount voucher from Cotswold Outdoor and other retailers.
>> Find out more

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