Great Glen

The Great Glen (Scottish Gaelic: An Gleann Mòr [an ˈklaun̪ˠ ˈmoːɾ]), also known as Glen Albyn (from the Scottish Gaelic Gleann Albainn "Glen of Scotland") or Glen More (from the Scottish Gaelic An Gleann Mòr) is a long and straight glen in Scotland running for 62 miles (100 km) from Inverness on the edge of Moray Firth, to Fort William at the head of Loch Linnhe.

Great glen fault
The Great Fault

The Great Glen follows a large geological fault known as the Great Glen Fault. It bisects the Scottish Highlands into the Grampian Mountains to the southeast and the Northwest Highlands to the northwest.

The glen is a natural travelling route in the Highlands of Scotland, which is used by both the Caledonian Canal and the A82 road, which link the city of Inverness on the northeast coast with Fort William on the west coast. The Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway was built in 1896 from the southern end of the glen to the southern end of Loch Ness, but was never extended to Inverness. The railway closed in 1947.

A recent development was the opening of a long-distance route for cyclists, canoeists, and walkers. Called the Great Glen Way, it links Fort William to Inverness.[1] Officially opened on 30 April 2002 by the Earl of Inverness, the route is a series of footpaths, forestry tracks, canal paths and occasional stretches of road.[2][3]

Its strategic importance in controlling the Highland Scottish clans, particularly around the time of the Jacobite risings of the 18th century, is recognised by the presence of the towns of Fort William in the south, Fort Augustus in the middle of the Glen, and Fort George, just to the north of Inverness.

Much of the glen is taken up with a series of lochs, with rivers connecting them. The Caledonian Canal also uses the lochs as part of the route, but the rivers are not navigable.

From northeast to southwest, the natural water features along the Great Glen are:

The watershed, or water-divide, lies between Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. Loch Linnhe to the south of Fort William is a sea-loch into which both the River Lochy and Caledonian Canal emerge. At the north end, the River Ness empties into the Moray Firth.

Great Glen Project Station M - - 818230
Great Glen Project Station M. This triangulation pillar was one of around sixteen built for a special survey of the Great Glen in the 1970s

Seismic activity

Although earthquakes in the vicinity of the Great Glen Fault tend to be minor, seismic activity is a consideration in the design of infrastructure. For example, the Kessock Bridge includes seismic buffers.[4]


  1. ^ The Great Glen Way, Paddy Dillon, Cicerone, 2007
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Home | GGCT".
  4. ^ Preece, Robert (1995). "Earthquakes in the Inverness Area". Scottish Association of Geography Teachers' Journal (24). The Kessock Bridge, opened in 1982 and taking the A9(T) road north from Inverness, crosses the line of the Great Glen fault under the Moray / Beauly Firth. In consequence it has been built with seismic buffers, and these were planned during the design stage of the bridge.

Coordinates: 57°18′N 4°27′W / 57.30°N 4.45°W


Altmore (from Irish: Allt Mór, meaning "great glen")) is a hamlet and townland in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is five miles from Carrickmore and four miles from Pomeroy. The townland is actually called Altmore (alias Barracktown) and is situated in the historic barony of Dungannon Middle and the civil parish of Pomeroy and covers an area of 1117 acres.


Caol (Gaelic: An Caol) is an area near Fort William, in the Highland council area of Scotland. It is about 1 1⁄4 miles (2.0 km) north of Fort William town centre, on the shore of Loch Linnhe, and within the parish of Kilmallie.

The name "Caol" is from the Gaelic for "narrow", in this case the narrow water between Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil.

The Caledonian Canal passes by to the north-west of Caol, while the Great Glen Way long distance footpath passes through the village before following the canal towpath.

The village is largely residential, and has a school, Caol Primary School and St Columba's R.C Primary SchoolThe local shinty team are Kilmallie Shinty Club, who play at Canal Park in the west of Caol.

Fort William, Highland

Fort William (Scottish Gaelic: An Gearasdan [ən ˈkʲɛɾəs̪t̪ən]; "The Garrison") is a town in Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands, located on the eastern shore of Loch Linnhe. As of the 2011 Census, Fort William had a population of 10,459, making it the second largest settlement in the Highland council area, and the second largest settlement in the whole of the Scottish Highlands — only the city of Inverness has a larger population.Fort William is a major tourist centre, with Glen Coe just to the south, Ben Nevis and Aonach Mòr to the east and Glenfinnan to the west, on the Road to the Isles. It is a centre for hillwalking and climbing due to its proximity to Ben Nevis and many other Munro mountains. It is also known for its nearby downhill mountain bike track. It is the start/end of both the West Highland Way (Milngavie—Fort William) and the Great Glen Way (a walk/cycle way Fort William–Inverness).

Around 726 people (7.33% of the population) can speak Gaelic.

Great Glen, Leicestershire

Great Glen (or Glenn) is a village and civil parish in the Harborough district, in Leicestershire, 2 miles south of Oadby on the outskirts of Leicester. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 3,662. Leicester city centre is about seven miles north west. Its name comes from the original Iron Age settlers who used the Celtic word glennos meaning valley, and comes from the fact that Great Glen lies in part of the valley of the River Sence. The 'great' part is to distinguish the village from Glen Parva.

Great Glen Fault

The Great Glen Fault is a long strike-slip fault that runs through its namesake the Great Glen in Scotland.

Great Glen Way

The Great Glen Way (Scottish Gaelic: Slighe a' Ghlinne Mhòir) is a long distance path in Scotland. It follows the Great Glen, running from Fort William in the southwest to Inverness in the northeast, covering 125 kilometres (78 mi). It was opened in 2002, and is designated as one of Scotland's Great Trails by Scottish Natural Heritage. The Great Glen Way is generally walked from southwest to northeast to follow the direction of the prevailing wind. It can be walked in 5–7 days, or cycled in 2–3 days. The trail is maintained and improved by the Great Glen Ways partnership, which consists of Highland Council, Scottish Canals and Forestry and Land Scotland. About 30,000 people use the path every year, of whom about 4,500 complete the entire route.A 114-kilometre (71 mi) temporary model railway known as The Biggest Little Railway in the World was laid and filmed over the Great Glen Way in the summer of 2017.

Great Glen railway station

Great Glen railway station was built by the Midland Railway in 1857 on its extension from Leicester to Bedford and Hitchin.

Originally simply Glen, it was later renamed Glen Magna before receiving its final name. Passengers services finished in 1951, while goods services continued it was unstaffed in 1962, finally closing in 1964. The station houses remain and are occupied by a commercial business.


Invergarry (Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Garadh) is a village in the Highlands of Scotland. It is in the Great Glen, near where the River Garry flows into Loch Oich.


See also Line (geometry)

A lineament is a linear feature in a landscape which is an expression of an underlying geological structure such as a fault. Typically a lineament will appear as a fault-aligned valley, a series of fault or fold-aligned hills, a straight coastline or indeed a combination of these features. Fracture zones, shear zones and igneous intrusions such as dykes can also be expressed as geomorphic lineaments.

Lineaments are often apparent in geological or topographic maps and can appear obvious on aerial or satellite photographs. There are for example, several instances within Great Britain. In Scotland the Great Glen Fault and Highland Boundary Fault give rise to lineaments as does the Malvern Line in western England and the Neath Disturbance in South Wales.

The term 'megalineament' has been used to describe such features on a continental scale. The trace of the San Andreas Fault might be considered an example.

The Trans Brazilian Lineament and the Trans-Saharan Belt, taken together, form perhaps the longest coherent shear zone on the Earth, extending for about 4,000 km.Lineaments have also been identified on other planets and their moons. Their origins may be radically different from those of terrestrial lineaments due to the differing tectonic processes involved.

Loch Arkaig

Loch Arkaig (Scottish Gaelic: Loch Airceig) is a body of freshwater in Lochaber, Scotland, to the west of the Great Glen. It is approximately 12 miles in length and lies 140 feet above sea level, the maximum depth is some 300 feet.

The main tributaries are the Dessarry and the Pean which flow through the glens of the same names, falling into the loch at the extreme west end, by the settlement of Strathan. The mountains of Lochaber lie to the north, and the Forest of Locheil to the south. The outflow is through the River Arkaig at the extreme east of the loch, which flows eastwards into Loch Lochy, passing Achnacarry.

Two small islands lie at the eastern end of the loch, the larger of which, Island Columbkill, or Eilean Loch Airceig, is the site of a ruined chapel dedicated to St Columba which is the former burial ground of the Camerons of Locheil. A road from the Great Glen follows the north shore of the loch to Strathan where paths lead on to Knoydart, Glenfinnan and Loch Morar.

In 1746, Jacobite funds were said to have been hidden here (see Loch Arkaig treasure).

In common with a number of other Scottish lochs, Loch Arkaig was at one time supposed to be the home of a water horse. James Harris, 3rd Earl of Malmesbury and twice foreign minister during Queen Victoria's reign, recorded in his Memoirs of an Ex-Minister:

"October 3rd, 1857. This morning my stalker and his boy gave me an account of a mysterious creature, which they say exists in Loch Arkaig, and which they call the Lake-Horse. It is the same animal of which one has occasionally read accounts in newspapers as having been seen in the Highland lochs, and of the existence of which in Loch Assynt the late Lord Ellesmere wrote an interesting article, but hitherto the story has always been looked upon as fabulous. I am now, however, nearly persuaded of its truth. My stalker, John Stuart, at Achnacarry, has seen it twice, and both times at sunrise on a bright sunny day, when there was not a ripple on the water. The creature was basking on the surface; he only saw the head and hind quarters, proving that its back was hollow, which is not the shape of any fish or of a seal. Its head resembled that of a horse.... The Highlanders are very superstitious about this creature. They are convinced that there is never more than one in existence at the same time, and I believe they think it has something diabolical in its nature, for when I said I wished I could get within shot of it, my stalker observed very gravely: 'Perhaps your Lordship's gun would miss fire.'"

Loch Linnhe

Loch Linnhe ( (listen)) is a sea loch on the west coast of Scotland. The part upstream of Corran is known in Gaelic as An Linne Dhubh (the black pool, originally known as Loch Abar), and downstream as An Linne Sheileach (the salty pool). The name Linnhe is derived from the Gaelic word linne, meaning "pool".Loch Linnhe follows the line of the Great Glen Fault, and is the only sea loch along the fault. About 50 kilometres (31 mi) long, it opens onto the Firth of Lorne at its southwestern end. The part of the loch upstream of Corran is 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) long and an average of about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) wide. The southern part of the loch is wider, and its branch southeast of the island of Lismore is known as the Lynn of Lorne. Loch Eil feeds into Loch Linnhe at the latter's northernmost point, while from the east Loch Leven feeds in the loch just downstream of Corran and Loch Creran feeds into the Lynn of Lorne. The town of Fort William lies at the northeast end of the loch, at the mouth of the River Lochy.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness (; Scottish Gaelic: Loch Nis [l̪ˠɔx ˈniʃ]) is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 37 kilometres (23 miles) southwest of Inverness. Its surface is 16 metres (52 feet) above sea level. Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as "Nessie". It is connected at the southern end by the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal to Loch Oich. At the northern end there is the Bona Narrows which opens out into Loch Dochfour, which feeds the River Ness and a further section of canal to Inverness, ultimately leading to the North Sea via the Moray Firth. It is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil.

Loch Ness is the second largest Scottish loch by surface area at 56 km2 (22 sq mi) after Loch Lomond, but due to its great depth, it is the largest by volume in the British Isles. Its deepest point is 230 m (126 fathoms; 755 ft), making it the second deepest loch in Scotland after Loch Morar. A 2016 survey claimed to have discovered a crevice that pushed the depth to 271 m (889 ft) but further research determined it to be a sonar anomaly. It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, and is the largest body of water in the Great Glen, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south.

Moine Supergroup

The Moine Supergroup is a sequence of Neoproterozoic metamorphic rocks that form the dominant outcrop of the Scottish Highlands between the Moine Thrust Belt to the northwest and the Great Glen Fault to the southeast. The sequence is metasedimentary in nature and was metamorphosed and deformed in a series of tectonic events during the Late Proterozoic and Early Paleozoic. It takes its name from A' Mhòine, a peat bog in northern Sutherland.

Mountains and hills of Scotland

Scotland is the most mountainous country in the United Kingdom. The area north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault is known as the Highlands, and contains the country's main mountain ranges. Scotland's mountain ranges, in a rough north to south direction are: The Highlands & Islands, The Hills of the Central Lowlands, the Southern Uplands. The zone includes Britain's highest peaks, especially Ben Nevis (Beinn Nibheis), standing at 4,411.18 ft (1,344.527 m), with several similar peaks in the Cairngorms.

Some of the most spectacular mountains occur in the northwest highlands, especially on Skye, the largest island off the coast. On the mainland nearby lie some great ranges based on the Torridonian sandstone, a Precambrian rock which overlies yet older rocks such as the Lewisian gneiss. Some of the highest peaks, such as Beinn Eighe are crowned by white quartzite, which gives those peaks a distinctive appearance. The trend continues to the north with larger caps of the white rock at Foinaven and Arkle (hill). Some of the quartzite contains fossilized worm burrows. It is known as pipe rock and is circa 500 million years old.

The formation continues to the north with gigantic peaks such as An Teallach near Ullapool and Stac Polly in Sutherland. The Torridonian rocks continue south to Applecross opposite Skye, where similar massive mountains occur. The Black Cuillin are mainly composed of basalt and gabbro, the latter being a very rough rock which makes for superb grip for mountaineers. It is from the dark colour of the gabbro that the Black Cuillin receive their name. The summits of the Cuillin are bare rock, jagged in outline and with steep cliffs and deep cut corries and gullies.

The Northwest Highlands, lying to the north and west of the Great Glen

The Cuillin, on the Isle of Skye

The Grampians, the main belt of mountains across the centre of Scotland also includes the Cairngorms

The Torridon Hills of Wester RossThe mountains exhibit many notable individual peaks and many exceed 1,000 metres (3,280 ft) in height, so qualifying as Munros. Ben Nevis exceeds 1,300 metres (4,265 ft). To the south, Glen Coe has many notable mountains, such as Buachaille Etive Mòr and Bidean nam Bian, both of which are Munros. There is also a famous ridge walk, the Aonach Eagach, on the opposite side of the glen. The ridge is one of the most popular scrambles in the entire country, being a craggy arête with few escape routes.

The Grampians, extend southwest to northeast between the Highland Boundary Fault and the Great Glen, occupying almost half of the land-area of Scotland and including the Cairngorms and the Lochaber hills. The range includes many of the highest mountains in the British Isles, including Ben Nevis and Ben Macdui the two highest. The Cairngorm Plateau is the highest, coldest and snowiest plateau in the British Isles.

Northwest Highlands

The Northwest Highlands are located in the northern third of Scotland that is separated from the Grampian Mountains by the Great Glen (Glen More). The region comprises Wester Ross, Assynt, Sutherland and part of Caithness. The Caledonian Canal, which extends from Loch Linnhe in the south-west, via Loch Ness to the Moray Firth in the north-east splits this area from the rest of the country. The city of Inverness and the town of Fort William serve as gateways to the region from the south.

River Lochy

The River Lochy flows southwest along the Great Glen from Loch Lochy to Loch Linnhe at Fort William in the West Highlands of Scotland. Its two major tributaries are the short River Arkaig which drains Loch Arkaig into Loch Lochy and the River Spean which enters on its left bank at Gairlochy.

The A830 road crosses the Lochy near its junction with the A82 road by means of the Victoria or Lochy Bridge just northeast of Fort William and the river is bridged again east of Gairlochy by the B8004 road. The only other crossing of the Lochy is a combined rail and foot bridge 500m downstream from Victoria Bridge. This span takes the West Highland Line between Fort William and Mallaig and carries the Great Glen Way national trail.

River Spean

The River Spean flows from Loch Laggan in a westerly direction to join the River Lochy at Gairlochy in the Great Glen in the West Highlands of Scotland. Major tributaries of the Spean include the left-bank Abhainn Ghuilbinn and River Treig, the right-bank River Roy and the left-bank river known as The Cour.

The river is accompanied by the A86 road for almost its entire length, running from (upper) Loch Laggan west to Spean Bridge. The river is spanned by a bridge carrying the A82 road near its junction with the A86 at Spean Bridge. A minor road bridges the Spean just above the falls at Inverlair. Two further road crossings exist - a private estate road across the short stretch of river between upper Loch Laggan and the Laggan reservoir and a road traversing the top of Laggan Dam.

The West Highland Line crosses the river near Tulloch Station and follows its north bank before re-crossing a mile to the east of Spean Bridge. A branch of the railway formerly continued west beside the river from Spean Bridge, crossing it once again to the west of the village.At the end of the last ice age, Glen Spean and Glen Roy contained lakes dammed by ice with a surface elevation of 260m at one point. The ice dam collapsed catastrophically around 11,500 years ago and 5 cubic kilometres of floodwater appear to have drained along the line of the Spean gorge occupied by the modern river.

Scotland's Great Trails

Scotland's Great Trails are long-distance "people-powered" trails in Scotland, analogous to the National Trails of England and Wales or the Grande Randonnée paths of France. The designated routes are primarily intended for walkers, but may have sections suitable for cyclists and horse-riders; one of the trails, the Great Glen Canoe Trail, is designed for canoeists and kayakers. The trails range in length from 40 to 340 km, and are intended to be tackled over several days, either as a combination of day trips or as an end-to-end expedition.In order to be classified as one of Scotland’s Great Trails, a route must fulfil certain criteria. Each of the routes must be at least 40 km in length, and clearly waymarked with a dedicated symbol. It is expected that visitor services will be present along the way, and that the route has an online presence to help visitors in planning their journey. Trails are required to run largely off-road, with less than 20% of the route being on tarmac. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is the custodian of the brand, maintaining the official list and providing some of the finance and publicity, but responsibility for creating and maintaining each route lies with the local authority(ies) through which a route passes. There are 29 routes, offering 3000 km of trails in total. Additionally, the northernmost 10 kilometres (6 mi) of the Pennine Way between the Anglo-Scottish border and Kirk Yetholm lie within Scotland, but are designated as one of the National Trails of England.

The route of each of the Great Trails is marked with coloured diamonds on Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25000) and Landranger (1:50000) maps; the SGT logo of a thistle within a hexagon is also used to highlight the routes at the 1:25000 scale.

Sgùrr na Lapaich

Sgurr na Lapaich is a mountain in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland, situated north of Loch Mullardoch in the high ground that separates Glen Cannich and Glen Strathfarrar. The mountain reaches a height of 1,150 metres (3,773 feet), and is the fourth highest mountain north of the Great Glen. There is no higher ground to the north of it in Great Britain.

With a topographic prominence of 839 metres, Sgurr na Lapaich is the highest point for some considerable distance and is a fine viewpoint. The mountain is particularly well seen from the east; it is a prominent landmark as far away as the Moray Firth, some thirty miles away, from where locals use it as a guide for the weather forecast.

It should not be confused with another Sgurr na Lapaich, an outlying "top" of Mam Sodhail.


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