The Great Glen Way
Fort William to Inverness Two-way trail guide
By Paddy Dillon
Guidebook to walking the Great Glen Way, a 79 mile National Trail along the Caledonia Canal from Fort William to Inverness. Easily walked within a week in all seasons, the Great Glen Way is an ideal introduction to long-distance walking in Scotland. The route is described in both directions, and a separate OS 1:25K mapping booklet is included.
SeasonsLow-lying, so it is possible to walk the Great Glen Way at most times of year. Accommodation is often busy in summer, and midges are out! Daylight is short in winter and less accommodation is available.
CentresInverness, Drumnadrochit, Invermoriston, Fort Augustus, North Laggan, Gairlochy, Fort William
DifficultyThe Great Glen Way is a 5-6 day low-level waymarked National Trail, with a range of facilities along the way. An ideal introduction to long-distance walking.
Must SeeViews of the highlands, fascinating clan history, Caledonian canal, wildlife (including, possibly, the Loch Ness monster)
Guidebook to walking the Great Glen Way, one of Scotland’s Great Trails that runs along the Great Glen between Fort William and Inverness. The guidebook - which includes both a guide to the route and a separate OS map booklet – describes the route in both directions.
Ideal as an introduction to long-distance walking, the 79-mile Great Glen Way is split into six stages easily walked within a week, with high- and low-level options given for two of these. An alternative route past the northern side of Loch Oich (via Invergarry) is also described.
The guidebook includes practical information, 1:100,000 OS mapping, step-by-step route descriptions for every stage of the walk and lists the facilities found along the way. A separate booklet of 1:25,000 OS mapping provides all the mapping needed to walk the trail. The trail stretches alongside the scenic Caledonian Canal, which links Loch Lochy and Loch Oich with the famous Loch Ness. The route uses undulating forest tracks, lakeside paths, old drove roads and military roads, as well as contrasting stretches over heather moorlands or through city suburbs. The Great Glen is one of the most remarkable features in the Scottish landscape - a ruler-straight valley along an ancient fault line through the Highlands.
The route in this guidebook is described in both directions, and given the connection with the West Highland Way at Fort William there is no reason why both trails shouldn’t be walked together in one long journey between Glasgow and Inverness, or vice versa.
Planning your trip
Choosing an itinerary
When to walk
Travel to the Great Glen
Travel through the Great Glen
First/Last night: Fort William
Last/First night: Inverness
Food and drink
Tourist information centres
What to take
Planning day by day
Using this guide
Waymarking and terrain
Scottish Outdoor Access Code
Great Glen Way Rangers
Phones and wi-fi
All about the Great Glen
Animals and plants
The Loch Ness Monster
Great Glen Way – south to north
Stage 1 Fort William to Gairlochy
Stage 2 Gairlochy to Laggan Locks
Stage 3 Laggan Locks to Fort Augustus
Great Glen Way – north to south
Stage 1 Inverness to Drumnadrochit
Stage 2A Drumnadrochit to Invermoriston (high-level)
Stage 2B Drumnadrochit to Invermoriston (low-level)
Stage 3A Invermoriston to Fort Augustus (high-level)
Stage 3B Invermoriston to Fort Augustus (low-level)
Stage 4 Fort Augustus to Laggan Locks
Stage 5 Laggan Locks to Gairlochy
Stage 2A Gairlochy to Invergarry
Stage 3A Invergarry to Fort Augustus
Stage 4A Fort Augustus to Invermoriston (high-level)
Stage 4B Fort Augustus to Invermoriston (low-level)
Stage 5A Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit (high-level)
Stage 5B Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit (low-level)
Stage 6 Drumnadrochit to Inverness
Stage 4A Fort Augustus to Invergarry
Stage 5A Invergarry to Gairlochy
Stage 6 Gairlochy to Fort William
Appendix A Useful information
Appendix B Accommodation along the route
Appendix C Timeline history
Appendix D Gaelic–English glossary
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"This new long distance guidebook series from Cicerone has a unique selling point: each copy comes with a pocket-sized booklet providing 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey mapping for the whole of the route it covers. Guidebooks have of course included map sections in the past, but the difference here is that if you stick to the route outlined in each book you shouldn't need to carry an extra map with you. So for those of you who like saving weight (and money for that matter) on your long distance adventures, then this could be the ideal navigation tool....
The guidebooks are impeccably researched and written by Cicerone's expert pool of outdoor authors...
Our only criticism is that they haven't been doing it for years!"
Oli Reed, Trail Magazine
Leading guidebook publisher Cicerone are launching their new guides to Britain's national trails in March, and the big news is that for the first time they will be including a free map booklet for the whole route (1:25k OS mapping) with each of the guides, negating the need to buy a separate map/so the map booklets will also be available separately.
The Great Glen Way route in this guidebook is described both ways, and as ever the information provided by Cicerone is clear, concise and, above all, dependable.
Overall this is an excellent guidebook in itself, but including the mapping in the package is a huge bonus.
Trek and Mountain - Book of the Month, March 2016
I am currently planning to walk the Great Glen Way in May this year so was delighted to be offered the opportunity to review this book.
The book is extremely well presented. It is a paperback book with a strong and durable, removable PVC protective cover. Pushed into the inside of the rear cover is a separate booklet containing the series of route-maps from start to finish.
The Great Glen Way follows the route of the Caledonian Canal from Fort William to Inverness, a distance of 79 miles and the walk usually spread over a week. Before tackling such a route, particularly such a popular route, it is wise to do some advance planning to ensure accommodation is booked for overnight stops. This book makes it all easy with all such information immediately to hand: it is conveniently divided into sections which can be covered in a day and includes accommodation, ie hotels, B&Bs and campsites for each night along with details of baggage transfer companies for those to prefer not to carry their own heavy luggage or backpacks.
The book opens with a simplified map showing the route between Fort William to Inverness, giving an easy overview of the usual route but also some alternative 'high level or 'low level' routes, such as at Invergarry where the route could either head inland (hilly) or follow the (flatter) banks of Loch Oich, depending on the preference of the walker/s. Very usefully, for those of us less keen on hills there is a diagrammatic representation of the hills and where they occur so there will be no unwelcome surprises once en route. A further table shows the distances between the daily starting and finishing points with an average walk distance of about 18 to 20 miles per day (distances are also given in km).
The book is packed with lots of useful and interesting information about the area including its history, geology, animals and plants - and even the Loch Ness Monster! It is well written and especially well presented with clear maps within both the book itself and then supplemented further by the supplementary maps within the map booklet. I am already familiar with a few sections of the route and can vouch for the book being accurate and well researched. It includes a good mix of very clear directions combined with local information about the areas being passed through together with attractive photography making it very easy to plan my route and develop my enthusiasm by being attracted by the photographs. This book is definitely making me look forward to my trip.
On a practical note for walkers who will be very conscious of space and weights, the book is easy to carry measuring 17.5x12x1.8cm and weighing 190g and the space it takes up is a very good use of this space! It is easy to slip in a pocket or into a backpack and with its protective cover it will withstand the inevitable rough treatment it will endure on a walking trip and also will not be damaged by the rain it is also likely to encounter en-route.
A very well written and researched book which helps greatly with advance planning and directions leaving you to enjoy the preparation and the walk itself.
Amazon Vine reviewer
We first reviewed "The Great Glen Way: Fort William to Inverness" by Paddy Dillon back in 2007, and came to the conclusion that it was "an attractive, eminently readable, and very useful guide." With the publication of the 2016 edition that conclusion holds true, only more so. It has been extensively re-written and updated, and is rather thicker, and benefits from Cicerone's brighter modern design. Most importantly, however, it benefits from the addition of a separate 44 page 1:25,000 route map booklet which contains all the Ordnance Survey maps you need to complete the Great Glen Way, in a highly convenient format. The changes are more than enough to justify a recommendation that the Second Edition is a thoroughly worthwhile purchase, even for owners of the earlier edition.
Ken Lussey, Undiscovered Scotland
I normally prefer to use OS Landranger sheets and plan my own routes, and preparing for my recent walk along the Great Glen Way was no different. However, after reading Paddy Dillon's Walking The Great Glen Way I would recommend this book to anyone planning to do this walk.
The guide covers the entire 75-mile route between Fort William and Inverness and, while most folk will walk from south to north, the route is helpfully described in the opposite direction as well.
There is a very useful route summary near the start of the book, with distances described in kilometres and miles together with the ascent on each part of the walk. Paddy has also included an excellent introduction to the book with very useful advice including when to do the walk, planning an itinerary, accommodation and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. I particularly enjoyed the historical snippets throughout the book as well as tips on what to look out for by way of animal and plant life. The map booklet that accompanies the book meant I didn't have to pack my OS sheets, and also covers the high level route between Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit. The appendices are also handy and the list of hotels, B&Bs and campsites is an important inclusion given that accommodation is trickier to arrange than, say, for the West Highland Way.
The Great Glen Way is a fantastic walk I would thoroughly recommend to anyone. The Great Glen Way may be shorter, and certainly easier, than the West Highland Way, but the scenery is in my view every bit as good and this guidebook will enhance your enjoyment, even if you only ever walk the Way from the comfort of your armchair!
Chris Todd, Scottish Mountaineer
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Paddy Dillon is a prolific walker and guidebook writer with over 90 guidebooks to his name, and contributions to 40 other titles. He has written for several outdoor magazines and other publications, and has appeared on radio and TV. Paddy is an indefatigable long-distance walker who has walked all of Britain’s National Trails and several European trails. He has also walked in Nepal, Tibet, Korea and the Rocky Mountains of Canada and the US. Paddy is a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild and President of the Backpackers Club.