The Great Glen Way is a mountain bike route running 73 miles from Inverness to Fort William.
The Great Glen is actually a series of glens filled by lochs which are linked by the Caledonian Canal. Cycling the Great Glen Way from west to east is the most popular choice but many people choose to start from Inverness too. The route is waymarked and there are some challenging sections where the route climbs high above the banks of Loch Ness. A mountain bike is required for this route.
We recommend tackling the route over three days, with overnight stops in the villages of Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit. Customer feedback tells us that this is hard enough for most folk and leaves time for visiting attractions such as Urquhart Castle or even taking a short cruise on Loch Ness. If you've only got two days then the quiet roads on the south side of Loch Ness follow parts of The Caledonia Way (National Cycle Network Route 78) to Fort Augustus. This route is less strenuous for a single day's riding.
Our one-way bike hire service for the Great Glen Way makes organising your trip just a little bit easier. You can collect your bikes from us in Inverness and leave them with our partners in Fort William, Nevis Cycles.
If you're returning to Inverness or want to start in Fort William, our unique bike taxi service transports up to six cyclists and their bikes.
It's hilly! Travel with the minimum of luggage in panniers or use a baggage transfer service.
The following is our suggested itinerary, but of course there are lots of alternative routes and accommodation options, in particular on the south side of the loch.
Time of year - we recommend cycling this tour between April and September inclusive.
N.B. we suggest you book all accommodation in advance.
Pick up your hire bike from our bike hire centre in Bellfield Park, Inverness. We're only a few hundred metres from the official start point of the Great Glen Way at Inverness Castle. Follow the Great Glen Way markers along the River Ness and Caledonian Canal then climb steadily above Inverness to Abriachan on the north side of Loch Ness. The path flattens out before descending steeply to the busy village of Drumnadrochit and your first overnight stop. You should have plenty time to explore the ruined and romantic Urquhart Castle, just west of Drumnadrochit.
Starting in Drumnadrochit, you continue on the Great Glen Way through Lewiston to the Iron Age fort near Grotaig. The views are great as you pass through Glen Moriston and finish the day in Fort Augustus. In the evening you can explore Fort Augustus and watch boats going through the staircase of locks on the Caledonian Canal.
The first few miles are dead flat along the towpath of the Caledonian Canal. At Bridge of Oich follow the track to the north of Loch Oich through the forest to Invergarry. The short climb out of Invergarry earns great views over Loch Oich, then it's down to the canal again at Laggan. From Laggan the path stays close to the banks of Loch Lochy. There's a short section of minor road before you rejoin the canal. As you cycle the final ten miles along the flat of the canal towpath you can enjoy views of the Nevis range of mountains on the approach to Fort William.
Q. What kind of cycling tour is this?
A. The Great Glen Way is a self-guided mountain biking tour, ideal for reasonably fit riders with some mountain biking experience. It includes some riding on quiet roads and offers the chance to stop off and visit a number of key attractions along the way.
Q. How far will we be riding each day?
A. The distances covered each day are between 18 and 32 miles (28km - 50km). The terrain is very hilly in parts and includes off road vehicle tracks, singletrack and some quiet roads.
Q. How easy is it to follow the route?
A. The Great Glen Way is clearly signposted. We sell an excellent map of the Great Glen Way. You can also download GPX files compatible with most GPS devices and smartphones.
Q. What should I take with me?
A. If you are staying in accommodation along the way, you’ll just need your cycling clothes (including good waterproofs), clothes to change into in the evening and food and drink for each day on the trail. There are plenty of shops in Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus where you can buy lunch for each day. If you are camping, you’ll clearly need your camping gear too. We can hire you panniers to carry all your gear.