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Fort William to Gairlochy

· 2 reviews · Hiking trail · Highland
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  • Neptune's Staircase and the Caledonian Canal
    / Neptune's Staircase and the Caledonian Canal
    Photo: Macs Adventure Ltd
m 100 50 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km Old Inverlochy Castle Cow Hill Moy Bridge Neptune's Staircase Old Fort
Starting in Fort William at the base of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, you follow the Caledonian Canal via Neptune’s Staircase to Gairlochy.
Distance 16.9 km
4:10 h
35 m
9 m

Fort William is a bustling town and very popular among climbers and walkers as it sits at the base of Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest peak. Follow the river Lochy with short detours possible to Old Inverlochy Castle or Ben Nevis Distillery. After briefly following the banks of Loch Linnie you reach Corpach where the Caledonian Canal meets the Atlantic (make sure you dip your feet!).

Follow the towpath northeast to Banavie and Neptune’s Staircase, a series of locks which raise the canal 80 feet in just 400. Continue along the canal towpath as it winds its way through stunning countryside above the River Lochy. Your overnight stop in Gairlochy appears all too soon.

Profile picture of Cara Macaulay
Cara Macaulay
Update: September 01, 2020
Highest point
36 m
Lowest point
1 m

Rest Stop

Moy Bridge
Cow Hill

Tips and hints

This tour appears in the following itineraries:







Old Fort, Fort William (2 m)
OS Grid
NN 10455 74297
56.821409, -5.107453
56°49'17.1"N 5°06'26.8"W
30V 371375 6299486



Turn-by-turn directions

These maps and routes are designed to be used in conjunction with our traditional documentation. We have recently embarked on a conversion initiative to bring the two elements together, and this itinerary will be covered in due course.

In the meantime, using the two elements alongside each other should go a long way to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable and problem free day.



all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
NN 10455 74297
56.821409, -5.107453
56°49'17.1"N 5°06'26.8"W
30V 371375 6299486
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required. The weather can change quickly so be sure to take all equipment even if the weather looks okay.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it would be beneficial to bring a power bank.

Basic Equipment for Hiking

  • Sturdy, comfortable and waterproof hiking boots or approach shoes
  • Layered, moisture wicking clothing
  • Hiking socks  
  • Rucksack (with rain cover)
  • Protection against sun, rain and wind (hat, sunscreen, water- and windproof jacket and suitable legwear)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking poles
  • Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Blister kit
  • Bivy / survival bag  
  • Survival blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Pocket knife
  • Whistle
  • Cell phone
  • Cash
  • Navigation equipment / map and compass
  • Emergency contact details
  • ID
  • The 'basic' and 'technical' equipment lists are generated based on the selected activity. They are not exhaustive and only serve as suggestions for what you should consider packing.
  • For your safety, you should carefully read all instructions on how to properly use and maintain your equipment.
  • Please ensure that the equipment you bring complies with local laws and does not include restricted items.

Questions and answers

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Teresa Coons
September 18, 2019 · Community
We thoroughly enjoyed this day! I know that at least one reviewer thought this stretch of walking along the canal was boring, but we found it to be very relaxing and beautiful. Fall colors are just appearing, and the mix of dense woods, meadows with sheep and cattle, and peaceful waterway was idyllic.
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Along the Caledonian Canel
Photo: Teresa Coons, Community
Brigitte Mayer
June 25, 2019 · Community
The way along the Caledonian Canal Gets Boring After some Miles, its aleays the same view
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Tuesday, 25. June 2019, 17:32
Photo: Brigitte Mayer, Community
Caledonian Canal
Photo: Brigitte Mayer, Community
Along the caledonian canal
Photo: Brigitte Mayer, Community

Photos from others

Along the Caledonian Canel
Along the Caledonian Canel
Tuesday, 25. June 2019, 17:32
Caledonian Canal
+ 1

16.9 km
4:10 h
35 m
9 m


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