Fort William and Lochaber
Photo of Corpach & Ben Nevis © 2008 The Internet Guide to Scotland
On Scotland's west coast, Fort William is ideal for exploring Ben Nevis, the West Highland Way and Glencoe.
It is also the start of the famous scenic journey along The Road to the Isles leading to Mallaig and Skye where you can follow in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
TOP 8 REASONS TO VISIT FORT WILLIAM & LOCHABER
- Jacobite Steam Train - day trips from Fort William to Mallaig over the Glenfinnan viaduct (Harry Potter)
- Ben Nevis - Scotland's highest mountain
- Glencoe - historic, iconic, photogenic!
- Dramatic Scenery - enjoy stunning views in the West Highlands (and many movie locations)
- Caledonian Canal - great for cycling, walking and viewing Neptune's Staircase
- Food & Drink - sample seafood and visit the Ben Nevis whisky distillery
- History - Learn about Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites
- Outdoor Activities - Fort William is the Outdoor Capital of the UK with hill walking, skiing, mountain biking, watersports, etc. It is the finish point for The West Highland Way and the start of The Great Glen Way.
By road Fort William is:
105 miles north of Glasgow
145 miles from Edinburgh
45 miles south-east of Mallaig
50 miles north of Oban
65 miles south-west of Inverness
Note: It takes about 3 hours to drive from Edinburgh.
Jacobite Steam Train
You can visit the Glenfinnan Station Museum. Here you can also have breakfast/lunch in some of the old railway cars (open March-October, tel: 07979417115) or stay overnight in the Glenfinnan Sleeping Car - a 1950s railway car.
Jacobite steam train crossing Glenfinnan viaduct
© 2008 The Internet Guide to Scotland
Daily coaches operate to Fort William from Inverness and Oban, with connections from Glasgow and Edinburgh and other places in between. See TravelineScotland for timetables. The bus station in Fort William is next to the railway station (by Morrisons supermarket).
If you want a day trip to Fort William from Inverness via Loch Ness, you can get the regular Citylink bus service there and back in a day.
Stagecoach Buses operate buses in the Fort William area.
West Coast Motors operate in the Oban and Argyll area. Tel: 01586 552319.
Shiel Buses operate many of the local services between Mallaig and Fort William. Tel: 01967 431 272.
Taxi Tours / Guided Trips
- Sarah Fanet from Mamore Tours is local song writer and trained tour guide based in Lochaber. She offers private 1-day tours in a people carrier around Kinlochleven and Glencoe, as well as Oban, Mull/Iona, Ardnamurchan, Road to the Isles, etc. She can arrange a Gaelic Music Experience with Mary Ann Kennedy or you can visit fiddle player Eilidh Shaw. Tel: 01855 831798 / 07968 937629.
- Based in Fort William, Peter MacGillivray of 1 Day Tours offers private tours which can include Inverness, Oban, Skye, Ardnamurchan, Mull, Iona, etc. All tours are chauffeur-driven in an executive saloon car or people carrier. Collection from airport, ferry, coach or rail terminals can be arranged. Tel: 01397 704901.
- Nairn McArthur of Secret Safaris offers full day or half day guided tours to the hidden heart of the Highlands of Scotland. Fully insured top-of-the-range vehicles such as Land Rover, People Carrier, Prestige Saloon. West Highland Way transport, executive taxi service and airport transfers available. Tel: 01855 821 369 / 0772 050 9382.
- West Highland Taxis can offer private tours to suit your interests. 6 or 8 seater vehicles. Airport transfers can be arranged. Based in Fort William and Kinlochleven/Glencoe Tel: 01855 831495.
- Celia Ffitch-Stewart is a fully insured driver-guide with Mercedes limousine for your tailor-made guided tour. She offers half day, full day or extended tours. Airport collection (Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Inverness). Services can include itinerary planning and accommodation reservations. Meet your clan chief, trace your roots, stay in a castle, tour the distilleries. Member of HOSTGA (Highlands of Scotland Tour Guide Association). Based in Fortrose, near Inverness.
Fort William taxi firms:
- AAA Greyhound Taxis - tel: 01397 705050
- Budget Taxis - tel: 01397 703335
- Criost Taxis - te: 01397 313233
- Speeders Cabs - tel: 01397 704000
- Nevis Taxis - tel: 01397 703000
- Caol Cabs - tel: 01397 702525
- Alistair’s Taxis - tel: 01855 811136 (can take bikes)
- Woody’s Taxis - tel: 01397 701066.
- Sixt has cars and vans to hire from Fort William as well as Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
- EasyDrive in Fort William has a wide range of hire cars, vans and people carriers. Free delivery to the rail/bus station or your accommodation within a 5 mile radius of Fort William. Local company with personal service. Drop-off available in Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Tel: 01397 701616.
- Practical Car & Van Rental at Slipway Autos in Corpach, just outside Fort William. Tel: 01397 772404. Part of a UK national car hire company.
- Fort William Car Hire and Rental is based in Camaghael, just outside Fort William. Tel: 01397 701515 / 07733149345.
- KMF Mechanical Services is a garage which offers car rental. Situated on the Caol Industrial Estate just off the main Fort William to Mallaig road (200 metres from Banavie railway station). Tel: 01397 704624.
Cycling / Bike Hire:
- Nevis Cycles have 2 premises:
4 Lochy Crescent, Inverlochy, Fort William PH33 6NG (open daily 9am - 5.30pm). Tel: 01397 705555.
Witch's Trails Hire Shop at the Nevis Range gondola station (open daily 9.30am - 5pm from late March to October). Follow signs to Nevis Range Mountain Resort. Sav nav PH33 6SQ.
Full range of hire bikes to suit all needs.
- Off Beat Bikes - High Street, Fort William PH33 6DG. Outdoor gear, bike servicing, bike hire (mountain bikes, electric, children's, tandem, etc.). Tel: 01397 704008
- CranKitupGear is a small family business in Glencoe village. Cycle hire, maps, repairs, spares, etc. Contact Fiona and Davy Gunn. Tel: 0774 686 0023 / 01855 811694.
The West Highland Way is probably Scotland's most famous long-distance hiking trail stretching some 96 miles from just north of Glasgow to Fort William.
The Great Glen Way is a newer, interesting long-distance trail between Fort William and Inverness (approx. 70 miles) following the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness. The canal towpaths are ideal for walking and cycling.
The Caledonia Way is Route 78 of the National Cycle Network which runs all the way from Campbeltown in Argyll to Inverness (237 miles). VisitScotland has an interactive map of The Caledonia Way. The Fort William to Inverness section enables you to cycle 66 miles across the country.
The Great Glen Canoe Trail opened in 2012.
Neptune's staircase at Banavie on the Caledonian Canal
© 2010 The Internet Guide to Scotland
The East Highland Way is a new long distance walking route between Fort William and Aviemore (82 miles / 132 km). Web site features route maps and photos.
Ride Fort William is a web site full of info about cycling and mountain biking in Lochaber.
- Active Highs is an outdoor activity and adventure sports company based in the Great Glen near Fort William, with a great range of activities including white water rafting, canoeing, canyoning & gorge walking, scenic river rafting trips, climbing, abseiling and mountain biking. Multi activity packages available. Fully trained staff. Tel: 01809 501459. They can can cater for individuals, families, stag parties, hen parties and corporate events.
- North-West Frontiers organises hiking trips in the Highlands of Scotland (small groups, experienced and qualified leaders, choice of accommodation) including the Great Glen Way and West Highland Way.
- Paddle Lochaber - specialist Sea Kayak guiding and coaching provider based in the village of Ballachulish, just south of Fort William. A range of options to suit all abilities. Equipment provided. Contact Mark McKerral. Tel: 07841353460.
- River to Sea Scotland offers tailor-made guided paddling journeys in Lochaber for couples, families and small groups travelling together. Sea kayaking trips, or you can go out on Loch Lochy, Loch Morar, Loch Oich or Loch Eilt. Hire of canoes and sea kayaks plus all the associated kit if you want to do your own thing. Shuttle service available if you wish to do the Great Glen Way. Contact Reece McAfee. Tel: 07949292654.
- Rockhopper Sea Kayaking offers trips and instruction around the Fort William and Lochaber area. Sea kayaking is available for half-day, full day and multi-day trips with fully qualified guides and instructors.
- Tarmachan Mountaineering is a professional mountain skills and guided hillwalking company based in Fort William. Gary Hodgson offers mountain guiding, winter skills courses and navigation courses.
- trailab offers packages for mountain bike holidays around Fort William, Nevis Range, and across the Scottish Highlands. Accommodation included.
- Alan Kimber of West Coast Mountain Guides is a professional mountain guide based in Fort William offering instruction and holidays.
For more info on outdoor activities in Lochaber and Fort William, visit Outdoor Capital of the UK web site
Three Wise Monkeys Climbing is a new indoor climbing centre in the old church on Fassifern Road, Fort William. Tel: 01397 600200.
There are various boat operators on the Caledonian Canal between Fort William and Inverness.
The Lord of the Glens is a small cruise ship (54 guests) offering 4 star luxury.
Caledonian Discovery Ltd offer cruising holidays with activities on the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness onboard a large comfortable barge.
West Highland Sailing (based at Laggan Locks) have a wide range of yachts and luxury motor cruisers for hire.
European Waterways Ltd which offers holidays on the Scottish Highlander - a fully-crewed luxury hotel barge.
Clyde Cruises offer a choice of 2 boat trips starting from the top lock of Neptune's Staircase, just past the Moorings Hotel. 1-hour cruise one way sailing from Banavie to Gairlochy (you can walk or cycle back), or a 3-hour round trip from Banavie to Bunarkaig Bay and back. For 2016 this operates Tuesdays to Saturdays in July and August, plus Saturdays in May, June and September. Tel: 01475 721 281
For additional boat/sailing trips - click here
Events for 2023
The Highland Cinema in Fort William has a regular programme of films.
- 16 - 19 February: Fort William Mountain Festival - films, exhibitions, lectures, workshops, etc.
- 18 March: Ski-Enduro at Nevis Range
- 15 April: Macavalanche race on the Nevis Range Mountain Bike Trails
- 23 April: SXCountry Series (Round 2) 2023 - cross country event at Nevis Range
- 4 - 7 May: Loch Shiel Festival (Classical music concerts)
- 30 April - 6 May: Scottish Six Day Motorcycle Trials at the Nevis Range
- 6 - 7 May: Scottish Downhill Association mountain bike races at the Nevis Range
- 17 June: 10 Under the Ben endurance race at the Nevis Range
- tbc 1 July: Glengarry Highland Games at Invergarry
- 3 - 6 August: Downhill Cycling World Championships at the Nevis Range including this year's UCI Downhill MTB World Championships
- tbc 19 August: Glenfinnan Highland Gathering
- 26 August: Lochaber Agricultural Show at Torlundy
- tbc 2 September: Ben Nevis Race
- tbc September: Glencoe Marathon and Half Marathon
- 16 - 17 September: Skyrunning - trail running / ultra running around Kinlochleven (Ring of Steall / Ben Nevis / Glencoe)
Ben Nevis overlooking Fort William & Loch Linnhe photo © JAC | Fotolia.com
The town is can be very busy in the summer. Fort William has always been popular with tourists and since the filming nearby of the movies Rob Roy, Braveheart and Harry Potter even more people are flocking to the area.
There are banks, newsagents, electrical shops, supermarkets, etc.
Fort William has free public WiFi thanks to Highland Council. Log on with your social media details or by entering your email address.
You'll see lots of walkers with backpacks and boots. There are some good shops if you need any kind of outdoor equipment and there are lots of places to buy those postcards and souvenirs.
Opposite the train/bus station there's a Morrisons supermarket for all your food requirements. In the main street, between the church and the crazy golf course, there's a little area of green where you can sit down to eat your sandwiches and watch everyone go past. Further down the main street, the West Highland Museum is located in Cameron Square. Open Monday - Saturday all year. Tel: 01397 702169.
The Lochaber Leisure Centre on Belford Road (tel: 01397 704 359) has a swimming pool with water slide, squash courts, fitness suite, sauna, solarium and climbing wall.
The Nevis Centre (turn left at the roundabout beside Morrisons supermarket) has a nursery, cafe, superbowl, snooker/pool area for teenagers, and sports hall. Tel: 01397 700 707.
Fort William Golf Course is outside of town at Torlundy (tel. 01397 704464). 18 holes.
The Granite House (tel: 01397 70 60 95) at 74 High Street offers toys, music, jewellery, clothes, gifts. Another great gift shop and art gallery is Clan Jamfrie at 129 High Street (Tel: 01397 70 4406).
Boat trips operate from Fort William town pier (near Crannog Restaurant which is highly recommended for seafood)
Crannog Cruises (tel: 01397 700714) offer 60-90 minute trips taking you along Loch Linnhe to see the seals and fish farm. Some trips are arranged so you can also see the steam train. Sunset cruises in the summer until mid September.
Cruise Loch Linnhe (tel: 07367 436088) offers 2-hour cruises in the loch to see local wildlife including seals and birds, as well as sights such as the Caledonian canal and Ben Nevis.
Also from the pier you can take the passenger ferry over Loch Linnhe to Camusnagaul (Bay of the Strangers) in just 10 minutes. Several sailings a day, not Sundays. Bicycles can be taken onboard. Operated by the Highland Council. Timetables and fares.
The Highland Cinema in Cameron Square is a local, independent cinema with regular screenings of films. The cafe bar has a covered terrace and is open daily serving gourmet pizzas, charcuterie, pastries and more, with a selection of whiskies, gins, wines, beers, etc. Tel: 01397 609696.
The Lime Tree Art Gallery features changing exhibitions of paintings by local landscape artist David Wilson, plus limited edition prints, greetings cards and stained glass art. It is open all year every day 10am to 10pm. Admission is free. The exhibition complex features one main gallery and 4 smaller rooms. The Lime Tree is also a hotel offering accommodation and has a multi-award winning restaurant.
It is easy to find on Achintore Road (at the west end of the High Street, 10 minutes' walk from the bus and train stations). Tel: 01397 701806.
The Highland Soap Company has a visitor centre and Larder Cafe near Old Inverlochy Castle just 1 mile north of Fort William off the A82. Factory tours, soap-making workshops and shop. Open daily. Tel: 01397 719186.
About 5 miles outside Fort William near Torlundy, the Lochaber Rural Complex features a variety of attractions including a visitor centre called An Clachan which includes a crofting exhibition and a photographic exhibition (the Jim Leslie camera collection), plus for children there's a pets corner with hens, ducks, pony and goat. The An Clachan centre is open from Tuesday to Friday from 9.30am to 4pm. Contact Lochaber Rural Education Trust - tel 01397 708642.
BEN NEVIS DISTILLERY
Established in 1825. Located just outside Fort William. Guided tours, video presentation, gift shop and snack bar. Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm all year round. Also Saturdays 10am - 4pm from Easter to September, and Sundays 12pm - 4pm in July and August. Click here for the distillery web site. Large groups should book in advance. Telephone: 01397 700 200.
For 2020, there will be a regular minibus service from Fort William town centre (Middle Street) to Glen Nevis (Lower falls car park). This will operate daily from 4 May to 4 October. This means touris will be able to visit in a more sustainable and low impact way. This pictureque glen with river and waterfalls was used for a filming location in the Bravehart movie. There are lots of easy walks From here you can also take the longer walk to the Steall falls
BEN NEVIS (overlooking Fort William)
'Nevis' comes from the Gaelic word for heaven or clouds, so Ben Nevis could be taken to mean 'mountain with its head in the clouds' or 'cloudy mountain'. The top is covered in snow for most of the winter and spring. The summit is shrouded by clouds for about 300 days a year.
There is a reasonably simple way to walk to the top on a well-established path, but remember that it will probably be quite cold once you reach the summit. Make sure you have some warm clothes and extra food with you. Read the safety information before you set off and tell someone where you are going - just in case. Ask at the Tourist Office for information about the weather and conditions of the paths. The annual race up the mountain takes place in early September when mad people run up and down in less than an hour and a half. It could take you the best part of a day to walk up there and back safely. Typical times for walkers on the 5-mile track are 5 to 7 hours. It starts at the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre by Achintee House.
The Nevis Range - 7 miles north of Fort William - is home to a gondola system which takes visitors 2150 feet up the slopes of Aonach Mor in 15 minutes covering a distance of 1.4 miles. Here there's a sports shop, slide show and restaurant. Summer visitors can learn to ski on the dry ski slope. On a clear day you can see the Isle of Skye and the Isle of Rum. The High Wire Adventure (high ropes and zip wire) is in the nearby Leanachan forest.
Two reasonably easy walks start at the top gondola station. One walk is to Sgurr Finnisg-aig (approximately 20 minutes each way) which will give you views of the Great Glen and the hills of Knoydart. The other walk is to Meall Beag (approx. 30 minutes each way) which gives views over Loch Linnhe. Other routes are possible on the Nevis Range, but are really for experienced hill walkers or mountaineers only.
At the base of the mountain (where you get on the gondola) is the Pinemarten cafe (with toilets). From here you can hire a mountain bike and explore some of the 25 miles of forestry track. The Snowgoose restaurant and Mountain Discovery Centre are located at the top station of the gondola ride.
Full details of all this, including prices, events, etc. on www.nevisrange.co.uk
CALEDONIAN CANAL AND NEPTUNE'S STAIRCASE
The canal links Fort William to Inverness 60 miles to the north. A series of 8 locks raise boats 20 metres over a distance of 500 metres.
CORPACH (just north of Fort William)
SPEAN BRIDGE (11 miles north of Fort William) Photo of the Commando Memorial (pictured left)
Photo of the Commando Memorial (pictured left)
Situated at Spean Bridge, Spean Lodge offers 4 Star Gold B&B accommodation in 3 ensuite bedrooms, as well as 4 star self catering for 4 people. Tel: 01397 712004.
ACHNACARRY (13 miles north of Fort William)
The Clan Cameron Museum in the castle grounds at Achnacarry has exhibits on the clan and regimental history, plus Bonnie Prince Charlie and Commando artefacts. Open daily 1.30pm - 4.30pm from Easter to mid-October (11am - 5pm in July & August). Tel: 01397 712 480.
THE PARALLEL ROADS (18 miles north-east of Fort William)
Continue on the A86 a few miles along from Spean Bridge (heading east) and take a left turning at Roy Bridge onto an unclassified road into Glen Roy. After about 5 miles on this twisting road you will reach a car park and information board from where you will have a great view of the valley and spectacular parallel lines along the hillsides. In fact these aren't real roads. They were created as the ice melted at the end of the last Ice Age over 10,000 years ago. This geological phenomenon is unique in Britain and is apparently well worth the detour. The Darwin's Rest Coffee Shop is a great place to stop here and find out more. Open 7 days a week. Tel: 01397 712990. Visit the NatureScot web site and Lochaber Geopark Association for more about the geology of this unique area.
INVERGARRY (north-east of Fort William on the way to Fort Augustus)
The Glengarry Heritage Centre in the new village hall tells the story of the people who lived in the glen, and the landowners such as the MacDonells of Glengarry (open 11am - 3pm, Tuesday - Friday, Easter to October, tel: 01809 501424).
The Invergarry Hotel on the main road has a bar with good food.
In the grounds of Glengarry Castle Hotel are the ruins of Invergarry Castle clan seat of the MacDonells.
Glenfinnan © 2010 The Internet Guide to Scotland
In the summer months you can see the Jacobite steam train crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct (made famous thanks to the Harry Potter movies).
The Glenfinnan Highland Gathering is held in mid-August.
Take a cruise on Loch Shiel onboard the M.V. Sileas departing from Glenfinnan or Acharacle from late March to late October. Frequent wildlife sightings. Special events include evening cruises and ceilidh cruises. Follow the signs from the road to the Glenfinnan House Hotel. To check sailing times, phone 07946 842732. Visit the Loch Shiel Cruises web site for further info.
Glenfinnan monument © 2010 The Internet Guide to Scotland
If you are travelling along the Road to the Isles to Glenfinnan and towards Mallaig then why not make the detour into Ardnamurchan, a ruggedly beautiful area which is the most westerly place on the mainland? The local tourist association information is given at ardnamurchan.com. The lighthouse and visitor centre are open at Ardnamurchan Point.
Castle Tioram photo © Cisek Ciesielski | Fotolia.com
Castle Tioram (pronounced 'Cheerum') lies in ruins on a rocky islet in Loch Moidart, Ardnamurchan. Located south of Mallaig and some 50 miles from Fort William its location is made all the more remote by the fact that access is only possible at low tide when you can walk across a spit of land. The ruins are closed to the public on safety grounds.
Tioram was destroyed in 1715 when Clan Chief Allan of Clanranald ordered it to be burnt, probably to prevent it falling into enemy hands when he left to fight for the Jacobite cause. It has lain in various states of ruin ever since. It is closely linked with the beginnings of the Clanranald branch of the MacDonalds.
The castle is now owned by a Scottish businessman, Lex Brown, who would like to conserve it despite recent setbacks.
Sandra Evans has an excellent article about the castle on the Moidart Local History Group web site
South of Fort William
BALLACHULISH (about 15 minutes drive from Fort William)
The village is surrounded by magnificent scenery. The Ballachulish Visitor Centre explains the history of the old slate quarry which you can now visit on a 500 metre safe path. The centre is open daily (except Christmas Day) and includes a coffee shop, gift shop, Internet access, fishing tackle, etc. Tel: 01855 811 866
Across the bridge, you can visit the local confectionery factory which has a visitor centre where you can sample 24 flavours of the Scottish delicacy called tablet, plus items such as Great Glen Chocolate Truffles and Coconut Ice. Open daily all year round (except Sundays in the winter). Tel: 01855 821277. Nearby is The Scottish Speciality Food Shop which has the largest range of Scottish foods in the world.
Just before you reach Ballachulish went travelling south from Fort William, you will pass the Corran ferry which takes passengers and vehicles to Ardgour and is a useful short cut to getting into Morvern and Ardnamurchan. The ferry runs frequently throughout the day across the Corran Narrows. Tel: 01855 841 243.
At the other side you reach The Inn at Ardgour which has a good restaurant and bar, plus 12 rooms for B&B.
Here you will find some of Scotland's best mountain scenery. Whatever the weather and time of year, it always appears spectacular. Glencoe is sometimes known as the Glen of Weeping or the Valley of the Shadow of Death. In 2017 Glencoe was designated a National Nature Reserve.
Pass of Glencoe photo © Louise McGilviray | Fotolia.com
Glencoe is an excellent place for rock climbing and hill walking during the summer. Why not follow the trails to the Lost Valley and the Devil's Staircase? Make sure you are well-equipped for being in the mountains and know where you are going. The Glencoe Mountain Resort (tel: 01855 851 226) is located 12 miles south of Glencoe Village. In summer the centre offers mountain biking (Downhill and XC), archery, orienteering, hill-walking, climbing, chairlift rides, photography, trail building, guided walks and home cooked food in the log cabin cafe. In winter skiing, snowboarding, sledging and avalanche rescue training are available. 19 runs across 7 lifts catering for skiers and boarders of all levels, including the longest and steepest runs in Scotland.
The Discover Glencoe web site is a complete online guide to the area, with details on accommodation, where to eat and shop, as well as outdoor activities, events, maps, history, special offers, local blogs, etc.
The Visitor Centre run by the National Trust for Scotland includes a
cafe, gift shop and video explaining the historical background to the infamous
massacre of the MacDonalds by the Campbells and British Army on 13th February
1692. A reconstructed turf house has been built to show you life in the 17th century.
In Glencoe village itself, a small group of people gather each year to commemorate the anniversary near the monument to MacIain of Glencoe.
The Glencoe Folk Museum is situated in two 18th century thatched croft houses in the main street (next to the village shop and post office). Open Easter - October from 10.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Saturday (tel: 01855 811664). Admission charge for adults.
Crafts & Things, just a few hundred yards outside the village, sells Scottish woollens, local crafts, and unusual gifts. Coffee shop also on the premises. Open daily. Tel: 01855 811325.
The Lochleven Seafood Cafe and Shop at Onich is a great place to buy some fresh fish and shellfish. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Open daily April - September (check winter opening hours). Tel: 01855 821048.
I drove through here once and it was as though we had entered the set of a science fiction film: a vast plateau strewn with rocks and boulders. Pools of water were dotted on either side of the road, some containing tiny islands bearing clumps of windswept trees and each worthy of preservation on a postcard. Weird, wild and unearthly, it seemed the sort of place where you could easily disappear and never be found. Overlooking the glacial moonscape were the mountains, dark and sinister, occasionally glistening as the evening sunlight caught the wet rock. Most wonderful and definitely well worth a trip!
Rannoch Moor photo © JAC | Fotolia.com
This is a popular place for walkers on the West Highland Way. Located at the end of beautiful Loch Leven. There are various eating places and accommodation options. The village is home to the Atlas Brewery, and a Visitor Centre for the history of the aluminium smelter which was established here in 1904. There are many walks in the area, including a walk signposted from the village to Grey Mare's waterfall (one of the highest in Britain).
Visit the Kinlochleven Community Trust web site for more local info.
Ice Factor - a huge indoor climbing centre - includes the biggest indoor ice climbing facility in the world, plus rock climbing wall, Children's Activity Zone, sauna, steam room, plunge pool and hot tub, shop, cafe, etc.
The Via Ferrata near The Grey Mare's Tail (Scotland's third biggest waterfall) is unique in Scotland. It is operated by Vertical Descents who can also offer canyoning, gorge walking, kayaking, paintball, Segway, etc. Tel: 01397 747 111.
The Tailrace Inn at Riverside Road, Kinlochleven offers food all day long and also B&B accommodation. Bus to/from Glencoe. Live entertainment in the bar on Friday nights during the summer season.
Famous for the murder dramatised by Robert Louis Stevenson in his novel "Kidnapped". The incident occurred in 1752 when Colin Campbell of Glenure ("The Red Fox") was shot and fatally wounded. His assailant escaped and an innocent man was tried, then hung some months later. If you want to see where James Stewart was hanged, then look for the white stone on a rock plinth just above the road at the Ballachulish Bridge.
It is said that the name of the true murderer, possibly the convicted man's son, has been passed down through the centuries by word of mouth and Campbell's ghost is reported to have been seen on more than one occasion.
Gardens and Nursery
Near the Appin Police Station you can visit Kinlochlaich House which has the largest Nursery Garden Centre in Scotland. It is open every day (except Sundays from mid-October to March). Also see the Glorious Gardens of Argyll web site.
Photo copyright Internet Guide to Scotland
Castle Stalker photo © giskard | Fotolia.com
CASTLE STALKER (25 miles north of Oban)
Built around 1540 by Duncan Stewart of Appin, this much-photographed castle was gifted by him to James IV for use as a hunting lodge. More recently it was used in a Monty Python film. It can be visited during the summer by appointment only. Tel: 01631 730 234. Check the official site for details of guided tours this year.
Overlooking the castle is The View & Co which has a great cafe and gift shop, plus live bird nest cameras and a mini IMAX theatre with local wildlife film. Open all year except January. Tel: 01631 730444. Stretch your legs by taking the path through the gate so you can take a photo of the castle. Located on the main A828 overlooking Loch Linnhe.
Places further south are described on my Oban Page
Fort William / Lochaber Accommodation
(Hotels, inns, B&Bs, guest houses, self catering cottages)
Guy and Edward Daynes
The Clachaig Inn
Argyll PH49 4HX
Tel: +44 (0)1855 811252
Traditional, comfortable and inexpensive accommodation.
Restaurant, 3 bars and a beer garden.
23 ensuite bedrooms (single, double, twin, family)
B&B prices from £53 per person.
B&B and Guest House Accommodation
Fort William PH33 7JJ
Tel: +44 (0)1397 773030
Historic Victorian villa with many original features
3 spacious stylish bedrooms (kingsize double or twin)
Full continental breakfast with homemade & local produce where possible.
B&B prices from £42.50 per person (2 sharing).
Toby & Bev Richardson
Fort William PH33 7LS
Tel: +44 (0)1397 77 22 62
Mansefield Guest House
Historic house set in mature gardens with mountain & loch views.
In Corpach, just 4 miles (7 minutes drive) from Fort William.
Specialises in comfort, relaxation and good food.
Scottish Tourist Board 4 Stars.
6 ensuite bedrooms (1 single, 2 double,
No Smoking. No children under 12.
B&B prices from £42.50 per person.
Jamie and Jan Gilfillan
Lawriestone Guest House
Fort William PH33 6RQ
Tel: 01397 705849
Lawriestone Guest House
Fine Victorian town house with many original features.
5 ensuite double bedrooms.
Willie & Rosalyn MacDonald
Self catering apartment also available
Willie & Rosalyn MacDonald
Self catering apartment also available
Brand new architect-designed house in Glen Nevis.
Family home offering superb Scottish hospitality.
Families with children are welcome.
B&B prices from £30 per person per night.
Miss. J. C. MacPhee
Located in Corpach, 4 miles outside Fort William
1 double room (ensuite)
Room only prices £30 per person.
Self Catering Accommodation
Contact: Gregor and Nicola Muir
Contact: Gregor and Nicola Muir
Modern bungalow (sleeping up to 7) on a working croft
Spacious bungalow with lounge, dining room seating 8,
Rental prices from £530 - £1150 per week.
Contact: Linnhe Lochside Holidays
Fort William PH33 7NL
Tel: 01397 772 376
Fax: 01397 772 007
Linnhe Lochside Holidays
Scottish Tourist Board 4 star holiday park. AA 5 Stars.
Choice of alpine-style pine chalets
Choice of 3-star Lochside Lodges
Selection of holiday caravans
Pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes
Willie & Rosalyn MacDonald
Self catering apartment sleeping 2-4 people,
Garage conversion apartment with:
Rental from £220 - £550 per week.
Choice of accommodation on 500-acre working farm
Great Glen Chalets
Lone Pine Lodge (sleeps 6 - 7)
Nevis Lodge (sleeps 8 - 9)
Choice of self catering properties in and around Glencoe.
Clachaig Lodges & Chalets (sleeping 4 - 5)
Quarry Cottages (sleeping 4)
Riverbank Holiday Cottages (sleeping 4 - 6)
Hawthorn Cottage (sleeps up to 10)
Camus Bhan (sleeps 7)
Arivonie (sleeps 6 adults)
Miscellaneous accommodation listings:
Discover Glencoe has details on accommodation including special offers and late availability in Glencoe and surrounding areas.
Hotels / Inns:
- Glengarry Castle Hotel - personally run by the McCallum family with 26 ensuite bedrooms. Set in 60 acres of grounds on the shores of Loch Oich. 7 miles south of Loch Ness & Fort Augustus. Between Fort William (25 miles) & Inverness (40 miles). Open late March - early November. Tel: 01809 501254.
- The Holly Tree Hotel at Kentallen, near Glencoe, is a 3 star hotel with 20 lochview bedrooms. It features the Seafood Restaurant and Grill, plus a leisure centre with a swimming pool and sauna. Contact: The McFatridge Family. Tel: 01631 740292.
- Letterfinlay Lodge Hotel on the banks of Loch Lochy is 7 miles north of Spean Bridge on the A82 road and 15 miles from Fort Augustus (Loch Ness). 17 miles from Fort William. Small hotel with 14 rooms. Ospreys Seafood Restaurant. Open for lunch and dinner. Private jetty for boating visitors. Self catering is also available nearby. Tel: 01397 712 622.
- Old Pines Hotel and Restaurant - 4 star establishment with ensuite bedrooms at Spean Bridge. Open for dinners, lunches, teas and coffee. Disabled friendly. Facilities for weddings on the premises (up to 30 guests). Tel: 01397 712324.
Guest Houses / B&Bs:
- Achintee Farm offers 3 star B&B accommodation (3 bedrooms) and a 3 star self catering cottage (sleeping 2). Situated in Glen Nevis, 1.5 miles outside Fort William.
- Ard Daraich (once the holiday home of cook and gardener, Constance Spry) is now a B&B with shrub nursery and 8 acre hill garden. Set on the shores of Loch Linnhe at Ardgour near the Corran ferry. Contact Norrie & Anna Maclaren. Tel: 01855 841 384.
- Ben Nevis Guest House has 3 stars and 4 ensuite bedrooms (double/family). Situated in Glen Nevis, 300 metres from the end of the West Highland Way, 1 mile from the foot of Ben Nevis and only a 10 minute walk to Fort William town centre. Contact Janet & Graeme Robertson. Tel: 01397 708817.
- Corriechoille Lodge Guesthouse offers 4 star B&B accommodation at Spean Bridge. Plus luxury self-catering accommodation in 2 new cabins - Corriechoille Cabins. Contact Justin & Lucy Swabey. Tel/Fax: 01397 712 002.
- Craigard Guest House on the outskirts of Invergarry. Choice of ensuite or standard rooms. Evening meals by arrangement. Contact Andrew and Joy Middleton. Tel: 01809 501258.
- Cuildorag House Vegetarian B&B is situated at Onich (near Ballachulish and Glencoe). This is an exclusively vegetarian B&B offering a full vegetarian breakfast. Organic products used whenever possible. Happy to cater for vegans. 3 course evening meals may be available if booked in advance. Discounts for members of Vegetarian Society, Vegan Society and Viva Members staying 2+ nights. Children under 2 free. Contact Lisa Glaze. Tel: 01855 821529.
- Faegour House is a 4 star B&B just outside Spean Bridge. 2 ensuite double rooms. Member of Scotland's Best B&Bs. Contact Sadie Baldon. Tel: 01397 712903.
- Fern Villa Guest House in Ballachulish has 5 ensuite bedrooms. 3 Stars. Contact: Catherine and David Susans. Tel: 01855 811393.
- Glenalbyn Lodge is a spacious guest house just 5 minutes north of Invergarry. Selection of comfortable bedrooms with either en-suite / private / shared bathroom. Evening meals by arrangement. Contact Dennis and Helen. Tel: 01809 501 348.
- GlencoeScotland.com provides details of accommodation available in Glencoe.
- Glen Loy Lodge Guest House has 8 ensuite bedrooms on the ground floor (single, double, twin, family). 7 miles from Fort William and 7 miles from Spean Bridge. Evening meals available April to October. Contact Jon & Angela Mercer. Tel: 01397 712 700. Wildlife holidays (4 or 7 days) are available between March and late October with guided walks around the area and accommodation/meals in the guest house.
- Highland View is a 4 star B&B with 3 ensuite bedrooms at North Ballachulish. Contact Karen & Colin Jennings. Tel: 01855 821 555.
- Kildonan a 3 star B&B at Corpach, just 10 minutes drive from Fort William and 3 minute walks from the Caledonian Canal. Modern house with ensuite bedrooms. Contact Tom and Kathleen Sutherland - tel: 01397 772 872.
- Leasona is a 3 star B&B with double and twin bedrooms. Situated in Torlundy, just outside Fort William.
- The Lime Tree on Achintore Road in Fort William is a 3 star hotel, multi-award winning restaurant and art gallery offering unique accommodation in a 19th century former church manse overlooking Loch Linnhe. Tel: 01397 701806.
- Loch View House is a 3 Star B&B just 10 minutes walk from Fort William town centre. 6 ensuite bedrooms (single, twin, double). Self catering apartments also available.
- Rustic View set in extensive grounds at Lochyside, 2 miles from Fort William, is a 4 star B&B and member of Scotland's Best B&Bs. 3 ensuite double/twin bedrooms. Open March to October. Contact Jackie MacLeod. Tel: 01397 704709.
- Signal Rock Cottage offers high quality B&B with 2 ensuite twin/double bedrooms, sitting/dining area and a kitchen. Situated near Glencoe village. Surrounded by 50 acres of mixed woodlands on the banks of the River Coe. Trout fishing available. The cottage can be let as self catering for Christmas and New Year. Contact Victoria Sutherland. Tel: 01855 811207.
- The Heathers Guest House offers spacious 4 star accommodation overlooking Loch Lochy. 4 ensuite bedrooms (double, twin, single). Situated approximately 5 miles north east of Spean Bridge. Contact Liz and Andrew Bright. Tel: 01397 712077.
- Thistle Cottage B&B at Torlundy is 3 miles outside Fort William. 3 Stars. Choice of ensuite rooms (double, twin, family). Contact Morag Matheson. Tel: 01397 702428.
- Tom-na-Creige at Onich, 11 miles south of Fort William. 2 star B&B with 1 twin and 2 double rooms. Contact Katie & Paul Flynn. Tel: 01855 821 405.
- Achintee Farm has a stone-built 18th self catering cottage (sleeping 2). 3 Stars. Situated in Glen Nevis, 1.5 miles outside Fort William.
- Bayview at Kentallen (just south of Ballachulish) is a self catering cottage sleeping 4 in 2 bedrooms (3 more people can be put up in the lounge).
- Birchbrae - 7 new luxury Scandinavian style self catering lodges situated 8 miles south of Fort William.
- Calluna offers a variety of self catering accommodation in Fort William: 2 apartments with 8 beds and 1 apartment with 6 beds. Ideal for groups and families.
- Dalcraig House is a 5 star self catering property on the shores of Loch Leven.
- Fraoch Cottage offers 4 star self catering accommodation for 3 people in 2 bedrooms. Situated approximately 5 miles north east of Spean Bridge.
- Glencoe Cottages offer a choice of 3 detached self catering properties at Torren near Glencoe village. Each cottage sleeps 6-8 in 3 bedrooms. Scottish Tourist Board 3 stars. Surrounded by 50 acres of natural woodlands.
- Glencoe Highland Holidays - choice of 4 star self catering cottages around Glencoe.
- Glen Nevis Cottage is a traditional, single storey cottage sleeping 4 people in 2 bedrooms. Located at the entrance to Glen Nevis. Also available: 2 residential caravans (each sleeping 6 people).
- Highland Holiday Apartments offer a choice of self catering accommodation by the Caledonian Canal close to Fort William. 4-star apartments (2 and 3 bedrooms) in Corpach. 5-star apartments (2 bedrooms) and a townhouse (3 bedrooms) in Banavie.
- Lochaber Lodges - newly built luxury 2 and 3 bedroom lodges on the Moy Farm Estate. Located 7 miles from Fort William on the banks of the Caledonian Canal with views over Aonach Mor and Ben Nevis.
- Mountain View - luxury apartment for 4 people. Situated by Neptune's Staircase on the Caledonian Canal at Banavie, 3 miles from Fort William.
- Sealladh Na Beinne sleeps up to 8 people in 4 bedrooms (2 double & 2 twin), 4 bathrooms, large dining kitchen, utility room and a large lounge. Situated in North Ballachulish, 3 miles from Glencoe and 12 miles from Fort William.
Camping / Caravans:
Linnhe Lochside Holidays
Scottish Tourist Board 4 star holiday park.
Best Scottish site in the AA Campsites of the Year 2011 awards.
Selection of holiday caravans with variety of facilities and 2 or 3 bedrooms.
Some caravans are wheelchair friendly, and some can accept pets.
Pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes & tents.
Alpine-style pine chalets with 2 or 3 bedrooms (sleeping 4 - 5 - 6). Scottish Tourist Board 3 and 4 Stars. Each chalet has a fully equipped kitchen, lounge with TV/DVD. patio doors, balcony & picnic table, central heating, double glazing. Some are pet friendly. Bed linen and towels provided.
3-star Lochside Lodges with 3 bedrooms (sleeping 5 or 6).
5 miles from Fort William in a beautifully landscaped lochside park.
Shop, launderette, adventure playgrounds, pet exercise areas, drying room for sports equipment, toddlers' play room, baby bath, dish washing room, tourist info, motorhome service point, WiFi hotspot. Heated amenities with private cubicles and baths. Free fishing & boat launching available from the park's private beach.
- The Bunroy Camping & Caravanning Site is 300 yards from inns, shop & train station in the village of Roy Bridge. 20 minutes from Fort William. Scottish Tourist Board 3 Stars. Open late March - late October. Pitches for tents, caravans, motorhomes. Camping pods for hire. Toilet/shower block with free hot showers, hot and cold water and shaver points. Electric hook up points. Chemical toilet emptying point. Laundry room. Covered sinks. Information room open 24 hours with payphone and books and games to borrow. Recreation field. Tel: 01397 712 332
- Caolasnacon Caravan & Camping Park is just outside Kinlochleven and 3 miles from Glencoe, on the south shore of Loch Leven. Pitches for tents, space for 50 touring caravans, 30 electric hook-ups, laundrette, dishwashing area, free shower facilities, 2 Midge Magnet Machines. 18 static caravans to let. Tel: 01855 831279.
- Great Glen Yurts is an eco yurt camp in a woodland setting by a river at the foot of Nevis Range. Authentic Mongolian yurts set on an organic farm at Torlundy. 3 miles from Fort William. Contact Julie French. Tel: 01397 702888 or 07980 841886.
- Invercoe Caravan & Camping Park near Ballachulish has level pitches, several hard standing areas, electric hook-ups, toilet blocks, licensed shop, laundrette, picnic area, children’s play area, anti-midge machines, etc. 5 stars. Open all year. Self catering lodges, cottages, holiday caravans and hobbit homes available to rent. Tel: 01855 811210.
- Lagnaha Campsite is two 1-acre fields, one for 5 caravans or motorhomes, and another small field with cookhouse shelter for up to 10 tents. Located near Duror, approximately 20 miles south of Fort William. Contact: Carol and Graham Mann. Tel: 01631 740282 / mobile: 07762113436
For other campsites in this area, search ScottishCamping.com
- Achintee Farm Hostel is a small hostel attached to the side of a farm house. Best suited to individuals, couples and families. There are 3 separate units each with kitchen, toilet and shower. Unit 1 contains 2 twin bedrooms; Unit 2 has 1 triple room and 1 small twin bedroom; Unit 3 is a small ensuite dormitory sleeping 5 in bunk beds. Situated in Glen Nevis on the banks of the river Nevis, and at the start of the Ben Nevis footpath. Approximately 1.5 miles outside Fort William. Tel: 01397 702240.
- Ariundle bunk house is in Strontian, Ardnamurchan (15 miles from the Corran Ferry). Part of a friendly, family-run business which also features a licensed restaurant and craft shop. Total 26 beds (2 rooms with 8 beds, 2 rooms with 4 beds, 1 room with 2 beds). Facilities include drying area, laundry, self catering kitchen, TV lounge, Internet access, bike hire. Tel: 01967 402 279.
- Bank Street Lodge is next to the Stables Restaurant in Fort William. Choice of en-suite single, double, twin and family rooms, plus 4-bed dorms. Lounge and self-catering kitchen. Tel: 01397 700070.
- Blackwater Hostel & Riverside Campsite, Lab Road, Kinlochleven. Scottish Tourist Board 3 Star Hostel. Bunkhouse accommodation with 40 beds (2, 3 and 4 bedded rooms and an 8 bedded room). 30 camping pitches with own toilet block, showers, etc. Tel: 01855 831253 or 831402.
- Chase the Wild Goose Hostel is near the Caledonian Canal at Banavie, 2.5 miles outside Fort William. Scottish Tourist Board 4 Stars. Choice of 4, 6, and 8-bed rooms. Total 40 beds. Facilities include lounge/dining area, self-catering kitchen, drying room, free hot showers, secure storage, Internet access. Bed linen included. Breakfast available if required. Towel hire. Special offers sometimes available. Exclusive use can be arranged for large groups. Tel: 01397 772 531. Online booking available. Open all year.
- Fort William Backpackers is situated in Alma Road, Fort William. Choice of dorm accommodation (max 8 beds per dorm). Lounge, self-catering kitchen and great views. Tel: 01397 700711.
- Glencoe Independent Hostel - choice of accommodation in the hostel, bunkhouse, cottage, log cabins, caravans, camping, etc. Tel: 01855 811906. Grid reference NN. 116577.
- SYHA Glen Nevis. SYHA hostel 3 miles outside Fort William. Tel: 01397 702336. Total 88 beds.
- SYHA Glencoe Hostel with 56 beds. Map Ref: O.S.41 (GR 118577) Tel: 01855 811 219.
- More hostel web sites....
Where to eat
There are lots of places to eat in Fort William: restaurants, fish and chip shops and cafes. Many of the hotels serve lunches and evening meals.
The Stables Restaurant & Grill on Dudley Road in Fort William is worth a visit (awards include the Scottish Hospitality Awards 2018 and the Food Awards Scotland 2017). Tel: 01397 700730.
Crannog's Restaurant down by the pier specialises in seafood dishes (tel: 01397 705 589).
No. 4 is centrally situated in Cameron Square just off the High Street (tel 01397 704 222).
The Highland Cinema in Cameron Square, Fort William has a cafe bar which is open daily. Tel: 01397 609696.
The Holly Tree Hotel at Kentallen, near Glencoe features Creel's Fish Restaurant, a bar and bistro. Tel: 01631 740292.
The Onich Hotel on the shores of Loch Linnhe has a restaurant with AA Red Rosette. Bar meals also available. Cocktail bar, sun lounge and 'Deerstalker Bar' with wide range of whiskies, ales and spirits. 9 miles south of Fort William. Tel: 01855 821 214.
Books & Maps
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North West Highlands
One of the lovely Pevensey Guide books, full of info about the area's heritage, landscape, climate, place names, flora and fauna. It covers Loch Ness & Inverness, the Black Isle, Easter Ross, Wester Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, Lochaber & Fort William, Knoydart & Ardnamurchan. 112 pages with over 100 colour photographs.
Order your copy from Amazon.co.uk (commission link) or Amazon.com (commission link)
The Ramblers' Guide: Ben Nevis and Glen Coe
Highly recommended guide to 30 walks. This book indicates the level of difficulty and type of terrain for each walk, plus points of interest, colour maps and photos with clear, easy-to-follow route instructions.
Order your copy from Amazon.co.uk (commission link)
Scottish Highlands and Islands
Latest edition of the popular Rough Guide series exclusively devoted to the Highlands & Islands. One of the top best-selling guide books on Scotland.
Order your copy from Amazon.com (commission link) or Amazon.co.uk (commission link)
Ben Nevis & Glen Coe by Alan Hall is a lovely book with over 100 pages of colour photos covering the local heritage, wildlife and landscape. Not a traditional guide book, but something to give as a gift or savour before or after your trip. Published in March 2000, this is one of a select series of guides covering scenic areas of Scotland.
The West Highland Way
One of the popular waterproof spiral-bound Rucksack Readers by Jacquetta Megarry. It details the 95 miles from Glasgow to Fort William. 64 pages including maps and 50 photos. Published in July 2000.
The Great Glen Way
If you intend to go hiking, particularly in the hills, you will need the scale of maps produced by the Ordnance Survey which is the official map agency of the UK. These can be purchased via Amazon in the UK:
- Landranger Map 0041: Ben Nevis, Fort William & Glen Coe
- Outdoor Leisure Map 038: Ben Nevis & Glen Coe
- Landranger Map 0040: Mallaig & Glenfinnan, Loch Shiel
If you are touring by car you would find a general map more useful, such as the Official Tourist Map for the Highlands of Scotland.
- For suggested routes, get the book called Walk Oban, Mull and Lochaber. Written by Richard Hallewell it is a handy 64-page spiral bound book printed by Collins Cartographic.
- Fort William and Glen Coe Walks by H. Brown.
The Oban Times has a free tourist map of Fort William which you can download online (PDF).
Tourist Information Centres
15 High Street
Fort William PH33 6DH
Tel: 01397 701 801
Seasonal office at Ballachulish - telephone 01855 811296.
Seasonal office at Spean Bridge - telephone 01397 712576.
The Road to the Isles
Lochaber And North Argyll Family History Group
Lochaber Geopark Association