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Ultimate Scotland: Loch Lomond to Loch Ness 1

Ultimate Scotland: Loch Lomond to Loch Ness

Overview

Take an epic journey through the Scottish highlands and take in the most beautiful Glens and Lochs of Scotland, including Loch Lomond and Loch Ness.

Start from Milngavie, walk by Loch Lomond following the West Highland Way and then following the Great Glen Way reach Inverness. This moderate walking itinerary takes 17 days to complete (14 walking days), covering 171 miles (275 km).

The route is very well signposted, with well-maintained paths and tracks throughout. Accommodation, services and refreshments are also conveniently located from start to finish, providing opportunities for a comfortable and relaxing end to a tough day’s walking.

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Milngavie

Today you arrive in the town of Milngavie. Milngavie is easily reachable from Glasgow by public transport (20-30 minutes).

Day 2: Walk Milngavie to Drymen | 13 mi / 21 km

The walk starts at the obelisk in the Milngavie town centre and follows the Allander Water through patches of woodland, before heading into Mugdock Country Park and Craigallian Loch. The route towards Drymen follows a quaint, hedge-lined country lane, before leaving the West Highland Way down into the village of Drymen. 

  • Walking for the day: 13 miles (21 km), approx. 6 hours, highest point: 140 m
  • Accommodation: Braeside B&B or similar

Day 3: Drymen to Rowardennan | 15 mi / 24 km

Back on the West Highland Way, the route soon enters the Garadhban Forest, where there are two options for walkers; the first being an easier walk into Milton of Buchanan, where the road is followed into Balmaha, sitting on the banks of the loch.  The second option is a more strenuous, but ultimately much more rewarding route, as the climb up Conic Hill gives rise to fabulous views over Loch Lomond. Then walk along the east side of Loch Lomond, flirting with the water’s edge along much of the way. This is a lovely, low level and relaxed stage as it meanders through pebble beaches.

  • Walking for the day: 15 miles (24 km), approx. 7 hours, highest point: 315 m
  • Accommodation: Rowardennan Hotel*** or similar

Day 4: Rowardennan to Inverarnan | 13.5 mi / 22 km

From Rowardennan, the path heads into the thick woodland. There are two options here; the easier being the wide forest track which follows the contours up and down the hill; or the more time consuming, narrow path which skirts over rocks and exposed tree roots along the banks of the loch. The rocky and uneven path continues along the loch, hugging the water’s edge amidst the fabulous and ancient oak forest.  The loch becomes noticeably narrower as the path approaches Inverarnan.

  • Walking for the day: 13.5 miles (22 km), approx. 6-7 hours, highest point: 131 m
  • Accommodation: The Drovers Inn & Lodge or similar

Day 5: Inverarnan to Tyndrum | 12 mi / 19 km

Soon after leaving Inverarnan, the path runs alongside the picturesque, fast-flowing River Falloch before a long stretch on an old military road. The route here closely follows the west highland railway and eventually passes underneath the tracks as the path nears a coniferous forest. The route continues through the forest, with the path winding and undulating through the contours. The path then crosses through the road and the River Fillin. The views of the surrounding mountains are wonderful. A well-maintained path follows the River Cononish before reaching Tyndrum.

  • Walking for the day: 12 miles (19 km), approx. 5-6 hours, highest point: 335 m
  • Accommodation: Tigh Na Fraoch B&B or similar

Day 6: Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy | 9 mi / 14.5 km

From Tyndrum, the route closely follows the railway and the road, although it continues to maintain its own unique qualities.  By this stage, you are firmly in the Scottish Highlands, and the view will be spectacular from here, all the way to Fort William.  The path uses an old military road throughout this stage (and continues right across Rannoch Moor).  This is also the most exposed section of the route so far with little protection from the elements. The path climbs out of Bridge of Orchy through a coniferous forest, eventually providing lovely views to Loch Tulla.

  • Walking for the day: 9 miles (14.5 km), approx. 4-5 hours, highest point: 330 m
  • Accommodation: Bridge of Orchy Hotel or similar

Day 7: Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe | 10 mi / 16 km

The path starts from the Inveroran Hotel, before the long stretch across the edge of the wild and eerily remote Rannoch Moor, passes the Glencoe Ski Centre and into the fabulous mountain range of Glencoe.

  • Walking for the day: 10 miles (16 km), approx. 5-6 hours, highest point: 450 m
  • Accommodation: Tom Eachainn B&B or similar

Day 8: Glencoe to Kinlochleven | 9 mi / 14.5 km

This stage of the West Highland Way includes the infamous Devil’s Staircase, the steepest climb of the route, reaching the highest point of the entire mile journey (made easier by the zig-zag path up the hill). The views from the top are spectacular. The track away from the staircase towards Kinlochleven signals an escape from the Glencoe Mountains and offers a long descent along excellent tracks all the way into the town.

  • Walking for the day: 9 miles (14.5 km), approx. 4.5-5.5 hours, highest point: 550 m
  • Accommodation: Tigh Na Cheo Guesthouse or similar

Day 9: Kinlochleven to Fort William | 15 mi / 25 km

The climb out of Kinlochleven is a steep ascent through a beautiful little forest.  The view from the top provides a fabulous view down to Loch Leven and the village.  The old military road then passes through a wide valley on the edge of Mamore mountain range, known as Lairigmor, before turning towards Glen Nevis through forested areas. The path gradually descends to Fort William, with a final stretch along the road into Fort William centre.

  • Walking for the day: 15 miles (25 km), approx. 6-7 hours, highest point: 330 m
  • Accommodation: Guisachan Guest House or similar

Day 10: Rest Day Fort William

Relax and explore the surroundings of Fort William.

Day 11: Fort William to Gairlochy | 10.5 mi / 17 km

The walk starts by the banks of Loch Linnhe and follows the shoreline to the Caledonian Canal locks. The trail then changes course and joins the canal as it heads towards the Great Glen. At Gairlochy, your accommodation is likely to be in Spean Bridge a further 3 miles walk from Gairlochy. A pick-up service is provided if required.

  • Walking for the day: 10.5 miles (17 km), approx. 4-5 hours, elevation gain: 40 m
  • Accommodation: Coire Glas Guest House or similar

Day 12: Gairlochy to South Laggan | 12 mi / 19 km

From Gairlochy, the trail soon leaves the canal and meets Loch Lochy, where you are never too far from its shores. The path makes its way through woodland as it undulates across the hillside towards Laggan Locks.  At the locks, the trail continues towards Fort Augustus along Loch Oich; however, it is possible to hike the Invergarry Link to your overnight accommodation.

  • Walking for the day: 16.5 miles (26.5 km), approx. 6-7 hours, elevation gain: 480 m
  • AccommodationForest Lodge Guesthouse or similar

Day 13: South Laggan to Fort Augustus | 11 mi / 18 km

The path climbs north out of Invergarry through some woodland, before descending to the north banks of Loch Oich, where it once again joins the Caledonian Canal for the walk into Fort Augustus.  This stage of the trail offers some fantastic distant views of the surrounding mountains.

  • Walking for the day: 8.5 miles (13.5 km), approx. 3-4 hours, elevation gain: 100 m
  • Accommodation: Lorien House B&B or similar

Day 14: Fort Augustus to Invermoriston | 7.5 mi / 12 km

The trail initially climbs out of Fort Augustus through a forested area onto the open hillside high above the lochs and canals below (note there is a low route option).  The trail continues at a high level for much of this stage, descending only to reach the village of Invermoriston.

  • Walking for the day: 7.5 miles (12 km), approx. 4-5 hours, elevation gain: 560 m
  • Accommodation: Craik Na Dav B&B or similar

Day 15: Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit | 14 mi / 22.5 km

Again, the trail quickly climbs out of Invermoriston, eventually providing fantastic views of Loch Ness and the surrounding mountains.  As on the previous stage, there is a high and low-level option during this stage.

  • Walking for the day: 14 miles (22.5 km), approx. 7-8 hours, elevation gain: 710 m
  • Accommodation: Kilmore Farmhouse B&B or similar

Day 16: Drumnadrochit to Inverness | 19 mi / 30.5 km

The trail leaves Drumnadrochit by following the main road for a short distance before heading onto a wooded hillside. This is the Great Glen Way’s final significant climb, with a gradual descent towards Inverness, but not before more excellent views across the Highlands. The walk to Inverness Castle follows the latter section of the Caledonian Canal into the city centre. Overnight in Inverness.

  • Walking for the day: 19 miles (30.5 km), approx. 8-9 hours, elevation gain: 500 m
  • Accommodation: Premier Inn River Ness or similar

Day 17: Departure

Departure by bus or train to Glasgow (3-4 hours) or Edinburgh. Inverness Airport is also an option, especially for domestic flights. Additional nights at the end of the walk can be arranged to explore the highlands at your leisure.

What to expect

Accommodations

Nice 3-star hotels and B&Bs, all offering comfortable en-suite double or twin rooms. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click here to view our default hotels for this tour

*Note that hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel from the ones pictured above is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village pubs and restaurants.

Difficulty & terrain

Although daily elevation gains are not very big, you should be prepared to walk on average 12 miles (19 km) or 5-7 hours per day. Some days will be more challenging than others and the terrain will be varied with some rough and rugged footpaths (read more about difficulty grades). The route is well signposted throughout; however, walkers must be vigilant as there are paths and junctions along the way that deviates from the main route. As well as the Guidebook, your package includes a detailed map of the full route. We highly recommend that at least one member of your party is a competent map and compass reader. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never shorten the path through the 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 1st April till 30th September. 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.

Getting there

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

By plane

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.
  • Inverness: The main routes out of Inverness are by bus and train to Glasgow & Edinburgh, while you can also fly from Inverness Airport.
  • A great website useful specifically for public transport planning within Scotland is Traveline Scotland.

Inclusions

Included

  • Pre-booked accommodation as per the itinerary on 16 nights in B&B’s, small hotels and guesthouses
  • Full breakfast each morning
  • Door-to-door luggage transfers on all walking days
  • Return transfers from the trail to accommodations where needed as per itinerary
  • Daily Itineraries, Maps & Guidebooks (one set per booking)
  • Info on transport and local services
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • 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 & 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)
  • Extra nights along the route or in Glasgow

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