In the afternoon on Wednesday 5th of September my brother Tom, my partner Paul and I all set off from Inverness on what was, for me, a fairly epic walk. There are a number of long distance walks through various parts of Scotland, with the West Highland Way being the most famous. We decided to walk the Great Glen Way as it’s often talked of as a good long distance walk for beginners, and seemed more sensible to start with than the West Highland Way, which we didn’t think we’d do in time we had.
We decided to go from Inverness to Fort William, rather than the other way, which is the way it’s normally walked. We did this mainly so we could meet up with two others who were walking the West Highland Way and would be coming in to Fort William at the same time as us. As it turned out this meant we got the hardest and least scenic parts of the journey over with first, leaving the easier and more beautiful parts of the route for when we were getting tired out, which kept us motivated.
We either wild camped or stayed at camp sites the entire way, stocking up in shops as we went. Having stocked up in Inverness in the afternoon of the first day, we walked from the castle to Abriachan Eco-Campsite & Cafe, near Loch Laide – a lovely very reasonably priced campsite, with very friendly staff and animals. Once we had got out of town there were some nice views down the glen, but it was a bit of a slog, especially when we had to walk along road instead of footpath.
The next day we headed up through forestry plantations to some great views of Loch Ness and then on down to Drumnadrochit, where we enjoyed a very nice pub lunch at Fiddler’s, got more supplies and I bandaged up my sore feet. From there we headed along the way until evening and wild camped a nice birch wood overlooking Loch Ness, only narrowly escaping midge hell both that night and in the morning. We packed up in a hurry and rushed away after we woke up to avoid them, and made a campfire in the woods to keep them away while we had breakfast, and then headed on to Invermoriston. We had another very nice pub lunch there, this time at the Glenmoriston Arms.
After that we headed on to a campsite about half way between Invermoriston and Fort Augustus, I don’t remember what the campsite was called but it was basically in the garden of a B&B and had great facilities. We were particularly happy about having access to a power shower at that point! The next day it was on to Fort Augustus, where we resupplied again and set off toward Lagan. This was probably my favourite part of the way, the scenery was particularly beautiful, Loch Oich and the abandoned railway being particular highlights, and the walking was easy, even with sore feet.
When we got to Lagan we were pleasantly surprised to find an informal camp site next to The Eagle, a floating bar on the canal at South Laggan. After pitching our tents we had a pub dinner and drinks, and some very welcome banter with the staff and other walkers. I highly recommend this pub, the staff were lovely and the food and drink was great, all inside a characterful boat which was worth seeing in itself.
The next morning we set off down Loch Lochy, easily making our way to Gairlochy, where we had intended to stop. We decided to carry on to Fort William instead, and the weather made us pay for it. The walk between Gairlochy and Fort William is a flat rocky canal path, easy walking in theory, but when the rain is lashing down on you for hours and your feet are sore… well, let’s just say I was happy when we made it to the end. Because we hadn’t planned to be in Fort William by that evening we hadn’t phoned ahead to get accommodation, and everywhere we tried was booked out, so we ended up spending our last night, soaked and cold, camping by Neptune’s Staircase.
We covered a fair distance each day, probably around 18 miles, except for the first day because we started late. My feet were pretty knackered by the end!