Fort William to Gairlochy

Corpach 1

Pepper Pot Lighthouse

The Great Glen Way starts from Fort William, within half a mile of the end of the West Highland Way. This has resulted in a waymarked route from Glasgow to Inverness, a total of 168 miles.

From the banks of Loch Linnhe close to the railway station the walk crosses the River Nevis then along the south side of the lower stretch of the River Lochy. Here the walk is close to Old Inverlochy Castle and the Ben Nevis Distillery.

Crossing the River Lochy now progress along the northern side before heads north west along the shores of Loch Linnhe to the lighthouse at the start of the Caladonian Canal at Corpach.

It is well worth the extra quarter mile to go to the sea lock and "Pepper Pot" lighthouse. The basin above the first sea lock is likely to be full of interesting vessels, many larger than imagined and several using the canal as a means of travelling from the Atlantic to the North Sea.

Corpach 2

Corpach Basin

Canal & Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis from the Caledonian Canal

From Corpach to Banavie it is possible to walk on either side of the canal. Along this part there are views back to Fort William and over to Ben Nevis. Even on a bright day the top of Ben Nevis is often shrouded in cloud.

At the weekends this is a popular walk for the locals and visitors.

Crossing with care, first the railway line and then the A830 road to Mallaig, Neptune's Staircase is immediately ahead.

The staircase has eight sets of locks raising the canal level by over 50 feet. Originally operated by human power this has now been changed to operate by sophisticated hydraulics.

The community of Banavie surrounds the Staircase and there are opportunities for refreshment before heading north via Strone and Moy to Gairlochy.

Neptune 1

Neptune's Staircase

Neptune 2

Loch linnhe from Neptune's Staircase

At the top of Neptune's Staircase there are wonderful panoramic views to the south over Loch Linnhe and to the East to Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor, with its ski tows and chair lifts visible on the slopes.

Now head off on the eastern side of the Caledonian canal. The path will run on this side till Gairlochy, the route sandwiched between the canal and the River Lochy.

There is now approximately 6 mile of canal side walking with woodlands on the east below Britain's highest mountain, and to the west a minor road follows the line of the canal. The hills on the west are lower but shortly Beinn Bhan, a Corbett appears to the northern side of Glen Loy.

This section is also shared with many cyclists, so be aware of them approaching in either direction.

Gailochy 1

Caledonian canal to the south of Gairlochy

Gairlochy 2

Lower Lock Gates as Gairlochy

With Monadh Beag immediately to the west and the River Spean joining from the east this section of the walk is almost complete. There are a set of two locks at Gairlochy, raising the level of the canal by just over ten feet to enter Loch Lochy.

There is very little to Gairlochy other then this charming junction between loch and canal and accommodation and refreshments of any significance will be found in the nearby community of Spean Bridge.

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