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).[2] It was opened in 2002,[3] and is designated as one of Scotland's Great Trails by Scottish Natural Heritage.[1] The Great Glen Way is generally walked from southwest to northeast to follow the direction of the prevailing wind.[2] It can be walked in 5–7 days,[2] 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.[4] About 30,000 people use the path every year, of whom about 4,500 complete the entire route.[5]

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.[6]

Great Glen Way
Slighe a' Ghlinne Mhòir
Great Glen Way map-en
Map of the Great Glen Way
Length125 km (78 mi)
DesignationScotland's Great Trails
TrailheadsFort William (56°49′16″N 5°06′29″W / 56.821°N 5.108°W)
Inverness (57°28′30″N 4°13′34″W / 57.475°N 4.226°W)
UseHiking and mountain biking; canoeing and kayaking on adjacent canoe trail.
Elevation gain/loss1,835 metres (6,020 ft) gain[1]
Highest pointAbriachan Forest, 375 m (1,230 ft)
Hiking details
SeasonAll year

Route description

Beginning at the Old Fort in Fort William, the Great Glen Way skirts the shores of Loch Linnhe to Corpach, and then the Caledonian Canal. The eight locks of Neptune's Staircase take the canal to 19.2 metres (63 ft) above sea level. The route passes various canal features until it reaches Loch Lochy, where forest tracks take it along the western shore before it rejoins the canal at Laggan Locks. A detour to visit a couple of Munros is an option here, but it is likely to take the best part of the day.

South Laggan Forest track split - - 222269
Great Glen Way on forest tracks near Loch Laggan

From Laggan Locks the route follows the towpath through Laggan Avenue to the Laggan Swing Bridge. Crossing the A82 road, it then runs along the eastern shore of Loch Oich, partly following the route of the dismantled Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway. It returns to the canal towpath at Aberchalder, for the next section into Fort Augustus. An alternative route known as the "Invergarry Link" runs along the western side of Loch Oich, providing access to accommodation and shops in Invergarry.

From Fort Augustus the route climbs up into the forest above the NW shore of Loch Ness. There are views from the high level forest track which eventually drops into Invermoriston and out by a steep climb. High level forest track leads into the hamlet of Grotaig, then alongside the road until a path heads down through Clunebeg Wood to the banks of the River Coiltie and Borlum Bridge on the outskirts of Drumnadrochit. The route passes through the village, and up a steep hill to Abriachan. The Great Glen Way ascends a forest track giving good views traversing through the forest. Leaving the road at Blackfold, the waymarking indicates forest track at Craig Leach Forest which eventually emerges at a reservoir. The route runs downhill through the suburbs of Inverness, then follows the canal and the River Ness to the city centre, finishing at Inverness Castle.

Great Glen Canoe Trail

The Great Glen Canoe Trail, Scotland’s first dedicated long distance trail for canoes and kayaks, runs along the Great Glen, close to the Great Glen Way. The 96-kilometre route includes 29 locks which must be portaged, and takes between 3-5 days to complete.[7] The trail was formally launched in 2012,[8] and is also designated as one of Scotland's Great Trails.[7]

The Great Glen was first swum by Marathon swimmer Alina Warren,[9] who completed the 117 km in July 2012.[10] The swim used all three lochs, and river Ness, river Oich and the river Lochy instead of the canals.

Trail Connections

The Great Glen Way connects to several other long distance routes at various points along its length:


  1. ^ a b "Trails". Scotland's Great Trails. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Great Glen Way". Scotland's Great Trails. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  3. ^ "SNH Commissioned Report 380: Developing the network of longer distance routes" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage. 2010. p. 5. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  4. ^ "About the Partnership". Great Glen Ways Partnership. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Scotland's networks of paths and trails: key research findings" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage. August 2018. p. 6. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  6. ^ McKenzie, Jamie. "Miniature train completes epic journey through Great Glen Way". The Press and Journal (Scotland). Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Great Glen Canoe Trail". Scotland's Great Trails. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Great Glen Canoe Trail". Great Glen Canoe Trail. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  9. ^
  10. ^

External links


Aberchalder (Gaelic: Obar Chaladair) is a small settlement and estate at the northern end of Loch Oich in the Scottish Highlands and is in the Highland council area of Scotland. It lies on the A82 road and is situated in two parishes, Boleskine and Kilmonivaig. Fort Augustus is within 5 mi (8.0 km).


Abriachan (; Gaelic: Obar Itheachan), is a village in the Highland council area of Scotland. It is situated high above the western shore of Loch Ness, 15 km to the south-west of the city of Inverness. The village has a population of approximately 120. There are no schools in Abriachan, so children travel by bus into Inverness or to Dochgarroch for their education.

At the bottom of the Abriachan hill, where the Kilianan stream meets Loch Ness, is Abriachan Garden Nursery, with a woodland walk and plant selling area.


Banavie (; Scottish Gaelic: Banbhaidh or Bainbhidh) is a small settlement near Fort William in the Highland Council Area of Scotland. One of the closest villages to Ben Nevis, it is about 2.5 miles (4 km) northeast of Fort William town centre, next to Caol and Corpach.

It has been suggested that Banavie is one of the possible birth places of Saint Patrick. One theory is that Patrick was the son of a Roman tax collector and born at Banavie around AD 389. His family had come with the Romans who had invaded the West Highlands and Islands. The 19th century work 'History of Celtic Placenames' by William J. Watson notes: "St Patrick was born at Banna-venta, an early town south of the Grampians." A similar placename, Bannavem Taburniae, is mentioned in one of the only two known authenticated letters by St Patrick.It was formerly where the Camanachd Association, the ruling body of shinty was based, but this has now been moved to Inverness.

Banavie railway station is on the highly scenic West Highland Line. The signalling centre at the station uses radio communications to control train movements on the West Highland Line. It covers a big area from Fort William to Mallaig and from Fort William to Helensburgh including the branch line to Oban.

The Caledonian Canal passes through Banavie, before ascending Neptune's Staircase, the longest staircase lock in the United Kingdom. The canal is crossed by two swing bridges, one carrying the railway and the other the A835 road. Banavie Pier railway station served the canal paddle steamers until 1939. The station building, platform and station master's house still survive as private dwellings.

The village has a number of bed and breakfast, guesthouses, self-catering and hotels.

The scenery around Banavie is exceptional with Ben Nevis dominant in the skyline. The Caledonian Canal passes through the village at Neptune's Staircase, which is a set of lock gates that raise vessels into Banavie upper canal area which has a long pontoon for visiting boats and yachts.

The Great Glen Way long distance path also passes through the village, mostly following the canal tow-path to Gairlochy.


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.

Cape Wrath Trail

Cape Wrath Trail is a hiking route that runs through the Scottish Highlands and along the west coast of Scotland.

It is approximately 200 miles in length and is considered to be one of the most challenging long distance walks in the UK. [1] Despite not being an officially recognised National Trail it has grown to be one of the most highly regarded backpacking routes, attracting hikers from around the world.

The trek was pioneered in the early 1990s by David Paterson who, in 1996, published a book entitled The Cape Wrath Trail: A New 200-mile Walking Route Through the North-west Scottish Highlands. This was followed in 1999 by a separate publication (North to the Cape: A trek from Fort William to Cape Wrath) by Denis Brook and Phil Hinchliffe.

In both versions the trail begins in Fort William and ends at Cape Wrath lighthouse on the northwest tip of the Scottish mainland. It connects with the West Highland Way, North Highland Way and part of an alternative route suggested by Cameron McNeish which follows the Great Glen Way out of Fort William before joining the main route in Glen Shiel.

A new, updated guidebook to the Cape Wrath Trail was published by Cicerone in May 2013. [2]These guidebooks estimate an experienced walker should be able to traverse the entire route in less than 20 days. However the authors detail slightly different routes and stages for walkers to follow. There are other alternatives on various segments of the route, thus there is yet to be an "official" established route. Many walkers see this variety as a quintessential part of the trail's appeal. The alternatives allow differing access to bothies, provisions, stream crossings and scenery.

Officially the trail is not endorsed by Scottish Natural Heritage and it is not waymarked or signposted. Facilities along the trail are also minimal and it covers some of the remotest parts of mainland Britain.

The Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the Cape Wrath Trail (following Iain Harper's Cicerone guidebook route) is four days, nine hours and 43 minutes, set by ultra runners Beth Pascall and Damian Hall (self-supported) in December 2018.

Clunes, Lochaber

Clunes is a small hamlet, located on the west shore of Loch Lochy, less than 0.5 miles northeast of Bunarkaig in Inverness-shire, Scottish Highlands and is in the Highland council area of Scotland.

East Highland Way

The East Highland Way (Scottish Gaelic: Slighe Gaidhealtachd an Ear) is a long distance walking route in Scotland that connects Fort William (56.8178°N 5.1109°W / 56.8178; -5.1109 (East Highland Way, Fort William trailhead)) with the ski and mountain resort of Aviemore (57.1899°N 3.8292°W / 57.1899; -3.8292 (East Highland Way, Aviemore trailhead)). The route was described by the architect Kevin Langan in 2007. The name is derived from the fact that the route terminates in Aviemore at the eastern edge of Highland region. The EHW route takes in a varied and wild landscape through deep forest plantations, passing many highland lochs and negotiating unspoilt marshlands. The route also explores the ancient Caledonian forests of Inshriach. The walk is 82 miles (132 km) long.

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.


Gairlochy (Scottish Gaelic: Geàrr Lòchaidh) is a clachan, or hamlet, of population approx. 100. It lies on the southern shores of Loch Lochy, a large freshwater loch in the district of Lochaber in the North West Highlands of Scotland. Gairlochy is surrounded by several other small crofting settlements, the largest of which is Achnacarry. Also close by is Highbridge, the site of the first skirmish of the 1745 Jacobite uprising.

Between 1803 and 1822, the Caledonian Canal was built, passing through Gairlochy, over the original site of the River Lochy. Two locks were built for access onto Lochy Lochy, but only one, the Upper Lock, is still in use. At the lower lock an end pivotted swingbridge and lock keepers' house is provided to carry the B8005 road and Great Glen Way over the canal.

Completed in 1896, the Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway passed through the clachan, with a small island-platform station, called Gairlochy Station, in nearby Mucomir, the current site of a caravan park and hydro-electric power station.

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.

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. 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.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:

River Ness (Abhainn Nis)

Loch Dochfour (Loch Dabhach Phuir)

Loch Ness (Loch Nis)

River Oich (Abhainn Omhaich)

Loch Oich (Loch Omhaich)

Loch Lochy (Loch Lochaidh)

River Lochy (Abhainn Lochaidh)

Loch Linnhe (An Linne Dhubh)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.

Inverlochy, Highland

Inverlochy (Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Lochaidh) is a village north of Fort William, Highland, Scotland. Inverlochy is part of the Great Glen Way, a popular hiking and cycling route from Fort William to Inverness.

John o' Groats Trail

The John o’Groats Trail is a Scottish long-distance walking route from Inverness to John o’Groats, traversing back lanes, footpaths, shorelines and cliff tops of the Scottish Highlands. The trail gives access to accommodation, meals and shops at the end of each stage of the walk.

The trail is in use but is still a work in progress. Work began in March 2015. All of the route is walkable, and many sections of the coastal route are walked frequently by local walkers as well as long-distance walkers. However, work is ongoing to bring the trail up to the usual standards for walking trails. Markers and basic infrastructure such as stiles and bridges are still needed in some places. Most work is being carried out on a voluntary basis.

The walk presents some obstacles that an established trail normally would not. In a few places the trail requires crossing of barbed wire fences, river fording, boulder scrambling, and strenuous walking through summer vegetation. These can be dangerous or difficult activities if not done with care by a fit, experienced walker.

Laggan, Great Glen

Laggan (Scottish Gaelic: An Lagan) is a small village in the Great Glen, in the Highland region of Scotland. The older, longer Gaelic name is Lagan Achaidh Droma, "hollow at the field of the ridge".

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 Oich

The River Oich is a short river that flows through the Great Glen in Scotland. It carries water from Loch Oich (to the SW) to Loch Ness (to the NE) and runs in parallel to a section of the Caledonian Canal for the whole of its 5.6 miles (9 km) length. The Great Glen Way runs between the two watercourses. The river's largest tributary is the Invigar Burn. The only significant settlement on the river is Fort Augustus at its NE end.

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.

Sròn a' Choire Ghairbh

Sròn a’ Choire Ghairbh is a Scottish mountain situated on the northern side of Loch Lochy, 13 kilometres north of Spean Bridge in the Highland Council area.

The Biggest Little Railway in the World

The Biggest Little Railway in the World (BLR) was a temporary 71 mile (114 km) 1.25 inches (32 mm) O-gauge model railway from Fort William to the City of Inverness, the two largest settlements in the Scottish Highlands. It has been described as a crackpot project to run a model train the length of the Great Glen Way by an army of madcap enthusiasts, geeks, and engineers in the best spirit of eccentric Britishness.

Walks Around Britain (TV series)

Walks Around Britain is a documentary series about walking first broadcast on Community Channel television in 2016. The series is based on the website of the same name and is an integral part of the brand. The series is designed to inspire more viewers to get outside and go walking, and as such features a wide range of routes, but mainly ones which most viewers can actually get out and do.

A second series started on May 2016, a third in early 2017 and a fourth in mid-2018. A fifth series was aired in 2018/9 and the sixth will form part of the exclusive content produced for the Walks Around Britain video on-demand subscription website.

The series differs from many other programmes about walking as it rarely leaves the walking route at all. This is due to lead presenter and producer Andrew White being fed up with programmes being seemingly about walking, but where the presenter leaves the walk to undertake ghyll scrambling or coasteering. He devised a format guide for the series, with six rules which all the programmes would follow, including "the walk is the star" and "we never do anything a regular walker couldn't" - meaning the presenters don't get an all-access pass to places just because they are on television.

The series is also different in being based on a first-run syndication model - more commonly used in the United States. The relaxing of the rules from the regulator Ofcom in 2011 allows Walks Around Britain to be funded by product placement, with companies ranging from outdoor clothing manufacturers to rail companies paying to be inside the programmes. Once produced, the programmes are licensed to a range of broadcasters in the UK and around the world. Currently, the series is broadcast on 20 channels in the UK, and because dates and times of showings are decided by the individual television stations, it is possible to find the same edition of Walks Around Britain showing on two different channels at the same time.

It covers various subjects relating to both the natural and social history of the walks featured in the programme, and as with the website, the TV series includes walks on the Crown Dependencies of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

In December 2016, the first reversion of the series format, The Great Glen Way - A Walks Around Britain Special, was screened on Community Channel. This took the established format and expanded it to cover one long distance walking trail - The Great Glen Way between Fort William and Inverness. The usual 22 minute format was expanded to 44 minutes to fit into an hour time slot. Community Channel premiered it at Christmas 2016, with the other broadcasters following afterwards. This led to the idea of producing regular specials featuring some of the other shorter long-distance trails, which often don't get a lot of publicity.

National Trails
(England and Wales)
Scotland's Great Trails
Long-distance path
(Northern Ireland)


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