Planning to walk your first National Trail? How about the Great Glen Way?

There's no shortage of options in the Cicerone range of guidebooks for long-distance walks across the UK. But if you want to walk your first National Trail, then the Great Glen Way is a great route to start with.

A whitewashed pepperpot lighthouse marks where the Caledonian Canal joins Loch Lochy near Gairlochy.
A whitewashed pepperpot lighthouse marks where the Caledonian Canal joins Loch Lochy near Gairlochy
The Old Bridge, or Telford’s Bridge, is slowly crumbling away and can be viewed from the nearby road bridge.
The Old Bridge, or Telford’s Bridge, is slowly crumbling away and can be viewed from the nearby road bridge

The Great Glen Way provides an easy and scenic route through the scottish Highlands, where walkers can admire the rugged mountains without having to climb them. Much of the route runs concurrent with the Great Glen Mountain Bike Trail, but there are several paths that are only for the use of walkers.

At 73 miles long the Great Glen Way can easily be walked within a week, and most walkers will aim to complete this national trail in five or six days.

The first thing to decide is whether to walk from Fort William to Inverness, or Inverness to Fort William. The Cicerone guidebook describes the trail in both directions and given the connection with the West Highland Way at Fort William, why not link the two national trails and walk them together in one longer journey?

The Great Glen is a remarkable geographic feature, running ruler-straight from coast to coast through the Scottish Highlands. Loch Ness, Loch Lochy and little Loch Oich are neatly arranged through the glen, while steep and forested slopes rise towards splendid mountains to north and south. Man has not missed the opportunity to run a road through this low-lying glen, and the Caledonian Canal was cut through the glen linking its three lochs with the coast. Walkers are now blessed with the provision of a waymarked trail through the glen, from Fort William to Inverness via Fort Augustus.

It can be completed through most times of the year, and there is always ready access to accommodation, food, drink and transport services. Take the time to delve into the long and turbulent history of clan rivalry, strife and warfare. Marvel at the engineering associated with the military roads, railway lines, Caledonian Canal and don’t forget to keep an eye peeled for a glimpse of the celebrated Loch Ness Monster!

If you would like to find out more about the 19 official national trails then the Cicerone guidebook to The National Trails by Paddy Dillon is just what you need. Paddy gives an inspiring overview of all the official long-distance trails in turn, providing all the information to decide which trail to walk next.

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