This one-day Loch Ness and Glencoe car tour takes you from Inverness to Fort William, a stunning drive along the side of Loch Ness and through Glencoe. It is one of the finest and most dramatic driving trips in Scotland. This route follows the famous Caledonian Canal on an 85-mile round trip (approximate driving time is 2.5 hours). But you must be sure to stop off for plenty of pictures and stops as we recommend below. This is a great day out and should provide a good mixture of heritage and scenery.
Distance: 85 miles each way
Driving Time: approximately 2.5 hours
Key Sights to take in: Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Fort Augustus, the Caledonian Canal, Loch Oich, Commando Memorial, Well of the Seven Heads. Old Inverlochy Castle, Loch Leven for Lunch, Glencoe, great walking, hiking and winter skiing.
Stage 1: From Inverness, take the A82 or the B862 towards Fort Augustus and Fort William. The A82 takes you along the main route on the North Side of Inverness. This passes Urquhart Castle, the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre, Nessieland and some of our beautiful Highland Villages.
If you opt for the B862, you are in for a scenic trip driving single the track roads, glens and forests along the South side of Loch Ness. Stop for a photo across the water of Urquhart Castle, a cake in Camerons Tea Room, or a walk down the beautiful, but steep Foyer Falls.
Stage 2: When you reach Fort Augustus you want to follow the A82 to Fort William. But not before a visit to the village and a walk along the historic Caledonian Canal. Here you will also find an Edinburgh Woolen Mill selling cashmere, Scottish souvenirs and tartan.
Stage 3: Once you move on from Fort Augustus, en route you will see Loch Oich. Towards the end of this Scottish loch, you should look out for the “Well of the Seven Heads” store and monument. Here you can read about the bloody events which resulted in the well getting its name.
Stage 4: You cross another swing bridge over the Caledonian Canal and then drive along the south side of one of our most beautiful Highland lochs, Loch Lochy. On sunny days there are great opportunities to climb down to the lochside and paddle or skip stones.
Stage 5: After Loch Lochy you pass the Commando Memorial (free) and drive through Spean Bridge where there is a famous mill shop.
Stage 6: Arriving in the outskirts of Fort William, after the Road to the Isles roundabout, look out for a sign for “Old Inverlochy Castle”. Once sacked by Robert the Bruce and the ancestral home of his great rivals, the Comyns, this is well worth a visit.
Stage 7: Take the lochside road through Fort William and follow the A82 signs. After passing Onich you reach North Ballachulish. Take the A863 signed Kinlochleven. Watch out for a great seafood lunch stop a few miles along this road, which is extremely scenic. A quiet road with multiple stopping and photo opportunities.
Stage 8: As you complete your circumnavigation of Loch Leven you arrive in Glencoe village. Watch for the Glen Coe and North Lorn folk museum. You will now rejoin the A82 signed Crianlarich and head towards Glen Coe.
Our recommendation is to drive all the way through Glen Coe, just stopping once at the foot of the glen for photographs. Once you have cleared the glen and the road has climbed onto the moor, find somewhere to turn and come back into the glen from the top. Just a few miles beyond here is a ski and snowboarding area with chair lifts.
Stage 9: As you come back through the glen you can stop on the left as you enter the gorge and park and view a waterfall. Quite spectacular in spate. Then follow the glen down, driving carefully and stop at each of the parking areas where you get a series of spectacular photo opportunities and you can do some hiking, too, if you have brought your hiking gear.
Stage 10: When you finally leave the glen you will find the Glencoe visitor centre. This is a must if you want to understand the scenery through which you have been passing.
Stage 11: Now head for Fort William via Ballachulish again. Look for what used to be a huge slate quarry on your left before reaching the bridge.
Fort William has a quaint little shopping town, with eateries to refresh. Or why not partake in some outdoor activities.
You now return along the same route to Fort Augustus or, when you leave Fort William, take the Road to the Isles and turn right at Neptune’s Staircase of lochs on the Caledonian Canal (about one mile) and follow the back road to Gairlochy and the Commando Memorial. When you reach Fort Augustus, why not drive the opposite side of Loch Ness. Both the North and Southside are a must to drive.
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