Spend five days cycling in and around the shores of the Caledonian Canal, with its adjoining lochs and locks, on a 118km trail leading from Fort William in the west to Inverness in the east through the Great Glen Way and eponymous valley. Stay in small, locally-owned hotels or guesthouses along the way, with your luggage transported daily for you, take the low road through the Highlands and be invigorated by fresh air coming in off the waters of the Caledonian Canal, Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness along the way. Electric bike rental also an option.
- Loch Ness
- Caledonian Canal
- Fort William
- Inverness Castle
- Loch Oich
- Scottish Highlands
- Invergarry Castle
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrive Fort William
Arrive in the town of Fort William, gateway to the Highlands. It is easily reachable from Glasgow by public transport via a scenic route (3h by bus, 4h by train). If you have an extra night and are an experienced hill walker, you could climb Ben Nevis, or take a boat trip to Seal Island on Loch Linnhe to see grey seals.
- Accommodation: Guisachan Guest House or similar in Fort William
Day 2: Fort William to Invergarry | 42km
Get fitted for your bike and, once you are familiar with its functions, follow the Great Glen Way markers from the ruins of Fort William, passing underneath the mass of Ben Nevis and past an even older castle fortress at Inverlochy. Cross the River Lochy and, at Corpach Lock, you get great views of Ben Nevis. Join the towpath to the famous Caledonian Canal. Ascend gently, following the watery escalator of eight locks known as Neptune’s Staircase. Continue along the towpath as far as Gairlochy. It is fairly flat going up to this point, then the route heads round the west side of Loch Lochy, changing onto a gravelly fire road, with a bit of an ascent around the loch shore before reaching South Laggan and its lock system. You could have a break here, as an old Dutch sailing barge doubles as a pub nearby on the canal. The bike trail leaves the walking path at this point and heads up into the forest above the loch before a descent through trees into the village of Invergarry.
- Cycling for the day: 42km
- Accommodation: Victorian lodge or similar in Invergarry
Day 3: Invergarry to Drumnadrochit | 48km
After breakfast, tackle your first steep hill on the climb behind Invergarry up through Nursery Woods, with great views of Loch Oich wherever there are breaks in the trees. Cross the suspension bridge, built in 1854, bringing you into Aberchalder. Here you rejoin the Caledonian Canal towpath and the Great Glen Way. This pretty and relaxing section gives you time to rest your legs along the towpath to Fort Augustus. As you reach the town, there is another impressive series of boat locks before you reach the shores of Loch Ness. As some of the climbs that follow are quite steep, there is no harm in walking up one of the hills, and have your camera ready for some dramatic views of Loch Ness and the mountains. Don’t miss cycling to Urqhart Castle, one of the most dramatically located ancient sites in Scotland.
- Cycling for the day: 48km
- Accommodation: Glenkirk B&B or similar in Drumnadrochit
Day 4: Drumnadrochit to Inverness | 39km
The first part of the day climbs sharply out of Drumnadrochit, away from Loch Ness, through a forest. Descend past Loch Laide to join minor roads and forest tracks deeper into the hills and fields surrounding the Great Glen. The route takes you through remote moorland and wooded countryside. Continue along the River Ness, descending into Inverness, the UK’s northernmost city and historic port. Time to relax and celebrate completing the Great Glen Way cycle route. It is worth having an extra day in Inverness: The National Trust for Scotland’s Culloden is a short bus ride away, and a bit further afield is Fort George, a fascinating complex built to protect Scotland from French invasion.
- Cycling for the day: 39km
- Accommodation: The Coo’s Guesthouse or similar in Inverness
Day 5: Departure
Departure by bus or train to Glasgow (3-4h) or Edinburgh. Additional nights at the end of the walk can be arranged to explore the Highlands at your leisure.
What to expect
Accommodation on this tour includes a mix of small, locally-owned hotels, B&Bs and traditional guesthouses. They have been carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including their location, warm hospitality, fine local food or commitment to responsible tourism. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms.
Click here to view our default accommodation for this trip
Hotels are subject to availability. In the event of a particular hotel being fully booked for your chosen dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfasts are included each day. Evening meals and packed lunches for the onward journey are available throughout. However, please note that they are not included in the holiday package.
Difficulty and terrain
The section between Fort William to Laggan is mostly easy. Most of the tour is on the Caledonian Canal towpath, which is car-free. Parts of the route north of Laggan are very hilly, with long climbs and steep descents. The final section to Inverness involves some road cycling. Surfaces include tarmac, forest trails with tree roots, gravel fire and forestry roads, and stony single track (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never shorten the path through unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available to commence every day from end-March to late October.
The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.
Up-to-date travel advice on the United Kingdom is available here (for Canadian citizens) and here (for US citizens). Some funny but useful travel advice about Scotland is available here 😊
Click to view travel options and route planner
Our recommended airport for this tour is Glasgow.
By train or bus
- Glasgow: There are excellent air, train and bus services, allowing easy access anywhere in the UK and overseas.
- Fort William: The main routes to Fort William are by bus and train to Glasgow. The journey, whether by rail or coach, is an absolutely glorious trip with stunning scenery throughout. Train from London Kings Cross to Fort William (approx journey time 10h) or you can also take the Caledonian Sleeper train between London and Fort William/Inverness.
- Inverness: The main routes out of Inverness are by bus and train to Glasgow and Edinburgh, while you can also fly from Inverness Airport.
- A great website useful specifically for public transport planning within Scotland is Traveline Scotland.
- Pre-booked accommodation as per the itinerary on four nights in B&Bs, small hotels and guesthouses
- 4 breakfasts
- Door-to-door luggage transfers on all cycling days
- Digital pre-departure information (route notes and GPS tracks)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme
Options, extras and supplements
- Single room supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Bike rental
- E-bike rental
- Extra nights along the route
Hybrid bike – 24 gears women’s or men’s lightweight day bikes, perfect for exploring the area.
E-bike – comfort e-bike that exudes elegance, has sufficient power, is easy to operate and at the same time ensures a relaxed riding experience.