Fort William, known as the ‘outdoor capital of the UK’, lies on the shores of Loch Linnhe. The town is surrounded by magnificent mountains, in particular Ben Nevis, and the local scenery is breathtaking. Fort William is the second largest town in the Highlands and is well connected with the rest of Scotland and the UK. The town itself is rather unfortunately bisected by a busy dual carriageway, which sits between it and the banks of the loch. Despite this, Fort William is a nice little town and a great base from which to explore the rest of the Highlands. And if parts of the local area look rather familiar, it’s because several scenes from the Harry Potter movies, Braveheart and Rob Roy were filmed there.
Things to See and Do in Fort William
Fort William’s high street is full of shops selling Scottish souvenirs, including tartan and whiskey. There are some fabulous views across loch-side and if you head down to the pier, you can take a cruise of the loch. Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland, towers above Fort William and is a major draw for the millions of visitors who come to the Highlands every year. The Jacobite steam train that runs from Fort William to Mallaig is one of the most scenic train routes in the UK, so a trip to the area would not be complete without a ride on this iconic railway. If you are feeling fit enough, there is a footpath starting from the town that will take you all the way to the summit. In winter, there are plenty of opportunities to try snowing and snowboarding in the Nevis Range; in summer, get your walking shoes on and set off on the Great Glen Way, which begins at Fort William and ends in Inverness.
Local Attractions in Fort William
There is no shortage of attractions in Fort William. The West Highland Museum contains lots of Highland memorabilia, including a secret portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, which managed to survive the Jacobite rebellion. If it is raining – and it rains a lot in Fort William – head to the Ben Nevis Distillery to see how the local whiskey is made. At the end of the tour, you will have a chance to sample a ‘wee dram’. The Old Fort, which is where Fort William got its name from, is on the shore of Loch Linnhe and very close to the town’s railway station. There is not a lot left of the original fort, but what does remain is worth exploring and you can find out a lot more about this interesting structure if you visit the West Highland Museum. Steall Waterfall in nearby Glen Nevis is a beautiful natural attraction in a stunning location. Old Inverlochy Castle is only a short distance from Fort William and is well worth a visit. It is one of the most important castles in Scotland’s history, playing a significant role in two Civil Wars in the 1640s.