There is often some dispute about which of Scotland’s glens is actually the longest. A glen is normally described as a U-shaped valley, a long, deep valley that often has or had a river running along its length. The front runner for the title of longest glen is the Great Glen, although others including Glen Lyon vie for the title.
The reason for debate comes down to the basic point of contention, is the Great Glen a single glen or a series of glens?
Assuming that the Great Glen, or An Gleann Mor, is one glen makes it the longest glen in Scotland at 65 miles (104km) in length. The Great Glen follows the geological fault line that bears the name of the Great Glen Fault and as such traverses the Scottish Highlands from Fort William to Inverness.
The whole length of the Great Glen has been developed through the movement of the fault but also through the advancement and retreat of glacial ice. The valley was formed and the ice helped to ensure that the sides were scoured out to leave the steep sides that are seen today. This process though has helped with the infrastructure of the Highlands and now plays host to both the A82 and the Caledonian Canal.
The A82 is considered to be one of the most scenic drives anywhere in the United Kingdom, and a slower trip down the Caledonian Canal is a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the modern world for many people. In recent years the Great Glen though has become a favourite walking route for ramblers, and as a result the Great Glen Way has been developed.
The Great Glen Way is actually slightly longer than the Great Glen itself at 73 miles (117km) long. It is though a route that can be walked in five or six days, with plenty of places to stay and see en route. It is advisable to walk from Fort William to Inverness as it is a slightly easier route, and normally has the wind behind the walker. Walking in this direction ensures that the rambler can take in the sights of the Old Fort at Fort William, a clear view of Ben Nevis and a good look at Loch Linnhe.
The Lochs do make up a large part of the scenery of the Great Glen, and as well as Loch Linnhe, there is also Loch Oich, Loch Lochy and the world famous Loch Ness.
Whether the Great Glen is truly the longest glen in Scotland is not really that important, the fact though is that it is a truly spectacular part of nature’s and Scotland’s beauty.