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Route outlines

Introduction to the routes

The Great Glen is a natural feature - a geological fault line between Fort William and Inverness. The area encompasses some of the best known landmarks in Scotland including Ben Nevis, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. The Glen is a significant tourist attraction and major route through the Highlands, between east and west.

Most visitors will drive through the Glen, but the three Great Glen Ways - walking, cycling and boating - offer a sustainable alternative. Whether completed from coast to coast, or sampled in bite-sized chunks, the three ways offer an unforgettable experience.

different users on the great glen way

person walking as part of Great Glen Ways logo The Great Glen Way Long Distance Route

This long distance route covers 79 miles (126 km) from Fort William to Inverness. It takes 5 to 6 days to walk the whole route in one go, but it can also be done in sections over a longer period of time. Equally, parts of the route make lovely short walks, amongst stunning scenery, and will take you to some less frequented parts of the Glen.

boat as part of Great Glen Ways Logo The Caledonian Canal and Great Glen Canoe Trail

The Caledonian Canal took 21 years to construct and opened in 1822. Twenty-two miles (34 km) of artificial cuttings connect with the four lochs along the Glen to provide an inland waterway between the east and west coasts. At its highest point the canal reaches 106 feet (35 m) above sea level and the change in levels is achieved by 28 locks. The engineer responsible for the canal was Thomas Telford.

The canal can be navigated by many types of craft, including by canoe. For detailed information about travelling by canoe or boat along the Great Glen please visit the Great Glen Canoe Trail website and the main Scottish Canals website.

Person on bike as part of Great Glen Ways Logo  The Great Glen Mountain Bike Trails

Unlike The Caledonian Canal and the GGW Long Distance Route, the Great Glen Mountain Bike Trails do not provide a continuous route through the Glen. Instead, they are a collection of cycling facilities, at a variety of Great Glen locations, with opportunities for everyone - from beginners and families to world-class competition level.

The precursor to these trails was the Great Glen Cycle Route which provided a long distance touring route through the Glen. However, this route had become a low grade experience for touring bikes and was withdrawn in 2006. Although it is possible for mountain bike riders to pedal between the various trails, they are not promoted as a continuous route and are not suitable for road bikes. The Highland Cycle Forum is currently looking at high quality options for touring bikes through the Glen.