hundred and eighty million years ago northwest Scotland was joined to parts of
northern Scotland, Greenland and Northern Norway. Plate Tectonics has changed
all that and in the process the Great Glen Fault was created. The line of the
fault was scoured by powerful glaciers up until about 8000 years ago, leaving a
line splitting the highlands and leading to open water at either end (Loch
Linnhe and the Moray Firth).
The Great Glen Way basically follows this fault and is one of the
long-distance trails which run through the Scottish Highlands. It stretches for
73 miles, from West to East, and was opened on 30th April 2002 by HRH
Prince Andrew. The tour starts at Fort William, near the foot of Ben Nevis
(Britain's highest peak, which can be readily ascended by clients if they choose
to spend an extra day), follows the shores of the famous Loch Ness, and finishes
at Inverness, Scotland’s north-most city and the “capital of the
highlands”. Most of the walking is straightforward and fairly easy, along canal towpaths and
forest tracks, but there are some more challenging sections.
William to Gairlochy, 10.5 miles.
walk is very easy, which will give you the opportunity to do several side trips.
The first one being Old Inverlochy Castle which is one of Scotlands earliest
stone castles, built in 1260. Continue on
with your walk before taking a short diversion to Corpach sea loch, with its
lock-keepers’ cottages and pepper-pot lighthouse. You then head up to the Tow
path of the Caledonian Canal following it past “ Neptune’s staircase” (a
flight of 8 locks) to the small village of Gairlochy.
Stage 2: Gairlochy
to South Laggan, 12 miles.
mainly easy walk today, but it does have two short steep ascents. You will be
walking on a mixture of tarmac, forest paths and tracks, mostly shared with the
Great Glen Cycle Route. Two miles after the start of your walk, take a side tip
to Clan Cameron Museum and Cia-aig waterfall before rejoining the Way at Clunes.
From Clunes all the way to Kilfinnan, you walk on forest tracks, you will
get splendid views of Loch Lochy with the mountains behind.
Stage 3: South
Laggan to Fort Augustus, 10.5 miles.
the terrain is a mixture of tarmac,
railway track bed, old military road, then a canal towpath. You will enter the
Leiterfearn nature reserve, enjoying the wonderful ash, birch, elm and hazel
woodland. If you have time you could walk up Meall a’Cholumain from Fort
Augustus which is a great viewpoint. F. Augustus was largely built in 1729 as
the hub of General Wades military road building programme to calm the
highlanders after Culloden and there are 5 Locks at the center of town on the
Caledonian Canal and several museums.
Augustus to Invermoriston, 9 miles.
harder day today with steeper ascents. You will climb through a forest of birch
and pine, beside a stream and uphill to a forest track.
You should get some dramatic views of Loch Ness at intervals through the
woods. Walk through the village of Invermoriston
with its little bridge built by Thomas Telford.
Stage 5: Invermoriston
to Drumnadrochit, 14 miles.
moderate day of walking today with some steep sections. There is quite a bit of
undulation today, but hopefully you’ll be used to the walking now! For strong
walkers in good weather you could ascend Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh from where you may
get views from Ben Nevis all the way to Inverness. You can take excursions to
Urquhart Castle with commanding views over Lochness. Drumnadrochit which has
a Loch ness Monster visitor’s center…or two!
Stage 6: Drumnadrochit
to Inverness, 18 miles.
would normally be a long 18 mile/29km, which is a bit beyond the scope of the
tour especially if you want to see something of Inverness. So it is possible to
shorten the tour with a taxi transfer taking you from the town to near Loch
Laide, famous for its very clean water. On route you can visit the
Caiplich prehistoric settlement. Descend then to Blackford and the Great
Glen once again meeting the Caledonian Canal once again before reaching
Inverness, a beautiful town of past and modern, although mostly Victorian.
Convenient major city and international airport: a) Glasgow
(International airport) 30 mins from airport to Glasgow Central by bus. Bus to
Fort William (about 4 times a day). Approx journey time 3 hours. Or take train
from Glasgow Central to Fort William. Approx journey time 3h 40min. b) Inverness
low cost flights with EasyJet is also possible.
Outward journey from London: Train
from London Kings Cross to Fort William (approx journey time 10 hours). There
is also an overnight sleeper service from London Euston to Fort Williams (approx
journey time 12 hours).
Inward journey to London at end of tour: There
is a direct train to London Kings Cross (approx journey time 8 hours). There is
also an overnight sleeper service (approx journey time 11 hours). However
bear in mind that from Inverness you can fly to London Luton or Gatwick sometimes as low as
£10 (plus taxes) on EasyJet. This combined with an outward flight to Prestwick
or Glasgow, could save you a fortune on train fares.