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  • Writer's pictureHiker Heather

Great Glen Way: Autumn Edition

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

A blog detailing my hike of the Great Glen Way in autumn to include my itinerary, information about the trail and wild camping spots.

It was the beginning of November and soon approaching my 35th birthday - I was itching for an adventure! My mind slowly became consumed with various long distance trails, but I was looking for a trail that had something to offer despite the fact that it was highly likely I would encounter rain EVERY SINGLE DAY.... bingo... The Great Glen Way, surely the Highlands would be a perfect place for an autumn escape and we were not disappointed... look at these autumn colours!!!

During my trip planning for the Great Glen Way, I spoke with two friends, Rob and Jon, who I had met both separately whist doing the South Downs Way earlier that year, they both decided that they would come along, so shortly after, the three of us headed up to Scotland to hike the trail...


About the Great Glen Way

The Great Glen Way is a long-distance footpath which beings at the end of the West Highland Way, in Fort William. The Way follows the Great Glen fault-line through the Scottish Highlands to finish at Inverness after 79 miles. The trail passes the beautiful Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness and also follows the Caledonian Canal. The Great Glen Way is considered a relatively easy walk, there are high level options between Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit. We chose to take the high level options on our trip.


You can of course choose to hike the Great Glen Way in either direction, we chose to start from Fort William and finish in Inverness.


The Great Glen Way is one of Scotland's Great Trails.


Access to and from the Trail

Both Fort William at the beginning of the trail and Inverness at the end of the trail, are both easily accessible by public transport.


I took the train up to Fort William the day prior to starting the trail from Leeds and I returned to Leeds from Inverness once completing the trail.

Itinerary

Our itinerary on this trail was as follows -


Day 1 - Fort William to Clunes (15 miles)

Starting at the Old Fort in Fort William we headed down the trail soon arriving at the Corpach ship wreck, we then joined the Caledonian Canal through to Gairlochy, there are a few official wild camping spots at Gairlochy lochs, however, we chose to continue onto Clunes where we found many beautiful wild camping spots beside the loch. You wont struggle to find a good wild camping spot here!



Day 2 - Clunes to Kytra Loch (16 miles)

Leaving Clunes, we continued along the trial through Laggan Forest alongside Loch Lochy and then passing through Laggan itself, we then follow Loch Oich and then River Oich before shortly arriving at the designated wild camping spots at Kytra Loch where we set camp for the night. This was another beautiful pitch under the trees by the side of Kytra Loch, there is probably space for around 4 tents so you may struggle in the spring or summer months so keep this in mind when planning your itinerary.


Day 3 - Kytra Loch to after the Viewcatcher after Invermoriston (14 miles)

Leaving Kytra Loch, we continue to follow the River Oich into Fort Augustus, Fort Augustus has shops and a petrol station if you need to resupply. Making our way out of Fort Augustus, we took the high route which soon drops back down again to meet the low route at which point you find yourself in Invermoriston, again, this hamlet has a few conveniences should you need anything. The climb out of Invermoriston towards the Viewcatcher is a steep one! We set camp in a wooded area after the Viewcatcher, just at the side of the trail, we were pitching late and would be leaving early and we found no issue in doing this, especially with it being November.


Day 4 - Viewcatcher to Abriachan Forest (21 miles)

This would be our longest day in terms of miles, we carried on the trail before reaching Drumnadrochit, this is one of the larger towns on the trail and so has more in terms of conveniences, we resupplied at the Coop before heading further down the trail, once again, the climb out of Drumnadrochit is a steep one before you reach the Abriachan Forest. We stayed in the Eco Cafe and Campsite ran by the community at the Abriachan Forest, safe to say we were the only people camping there that night! The pitches at this campsite leave a lot to be desired and we found that this was the worst pitch on the trail despite the other pitches in this trip all being wild camping spots. We were charged £10.00 per person, there is a compost toilet for your use but little else in terms of facilities at this site.


Day 5 - Abriachan Forest to Inverness - (13 miles)

Leaving the Abriachan Forest, it is a steady walk through moorland and forests before heading into Inverness where the trail finishes! We did it!!!!!

Facilities/ Accommodation/ Food and Drink

The Great Glen Way passes through a number of villages which offer hotels and B&B's should you wish to stay in a bed, rather than a tent as we opted to do so. The only places where accommodation might be an issue are Gairlochy and between Drumnadrochit and Inverness. Be sure to book ahead if you do chose to use accommodation as this is a popular trail in the spring and summer months.


Wild camping is permitted in Scotland, however, you must ensure that you are following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code at all times should you wish to wild camp.


We chose to carry our breakfasts and evening meals with us in the form of freeze-dried meals, this was due to the fact that it was autumn and we would need to be pitched before it got dark at around 4pm. Since you pass through villages and towns, there is the opportunity to either resupply or eat at pubs and cafes and so forth.


There are many tour companies offering either guided hikes of the Great Glen Way or alternatively, you may wish to use the luggage transfer service rather than carrying your own heavy pack. A quick search on Google will take you to these services, if required.


We had no problem filtering water from natural sources during our time on the trail, the water was plentiful.


Navigation

Since the Great Glen Way is one of the Scottish National Trails, it is very well waymarked by the thistle in the middle of a hexagon, as with all Scottish National Trails.


In addition, I used the Trailblazer guidebook and map (which you can purchase here) and I also used the Viewranger GPS App, the Viewranger App is no longer in existence and my search for a replacement GPS app continues.


If you wish to download GPX files to your own App or GPS device then you can use the following link to download - GPX for Great Glen Way

If you have any questions about the Great Glen Way or anything else then please do use the contact form to drop me a line, I will get back to you as soon as possible.


You can follow my adventures live over on my Instagram @hiker_heather . My stories from my trail are saved into my highlights as 'Great Glen Way' for you to watch at your convenience.

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