The Great Glen Way is a largely gentle walk along one of Scotland’s engineering marvels the Caledonian Canal. It is a natural transportation corridor and a popular recreational site which is traversed not just by foot, but by bicycle and canoe or kayak. Leaving Fort William, one discovers Neptunes Staircase, the series of 8 locks that begin the canal. One has great views of the hills that at times skirt the valley, the lovely village of Fort Augustus and the infamous Loch Ness. The walk ends in the town of Inverness, one of the newest, popular locations in all of Northern Europe. With only one or two major changes in elevation, it is one of the most accessible of the long distance walks.
Day 1 – Fort William to Gairlochy (17.5 km 10.75 mi): The trail leaves Fort William through it’s suburbs, and than follows the Canal path. One passes Neptune’s Staircase, but not before amazing views back to Ben Nevis and the Inverlochy Castle ruin. This completely level path ends at Gairlochy, where you have reserved lodging there, or in nearby Spean Bridge.
Day 2 – Gairlochy to Laggan (19 km 12 mi): The main event is walking along the great Loch Lochy (Lakey lake??) on the opposite side from the previous day. There are some interesting side visits possible, as well as the chance to get very close to the lake for a while near to the end.
Day 3 – Laggan to Fort Augustus (17.5 km 10.75 mi): This walk is known for its lovely meander along two sections of the canal, and it’s end at the popular village of Fort Augustus and it’s locks, at the mouth of Loch Ness. There is an alternate route at the beginning that is higher level and passes through Invergarry, but does not offer much in the way of extra views.
Day 4 – Fort Augustus to Invermoriston (12 km 7.35 mi): This stage is often combined with the next Invermoriston to Drumnadochit, but could also be combined with the previous segment. The high route is a relatively quick ascent to a path which offers magnificent views over Loch Ness and the surrounding hills. There is a zig zagged descent into Invermoriston
Day 5 – Invermorston to Drumnadochit (22-23.5 km 13.75-14.5 mi): After the village centre you make your way up through some woods to an expansive view north over Glen Affric and the Munroes beyond. After some steep climbs through the woods and the beginning of a descent, there is a viewpoint over Loch Ness. The path eventually follows a small road before veering off to follow a river and finally arriving in Drumnadochet.
Day 6 – Drumnadochit to Inverness (29 km 18.25 mi): This route is challenging only in it’s length, but represents easy walking throughout. The walk goes through woods, along some tracks with open views of mountains to the north. The approach to Inverness, which first skirts the eastern suburbs, ends along the lovely Ness Islands and the square just opposite the Castle.