The tallest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis provides walks, ice climbs, rock climbs and scrambles for people of all different abilities. The summit is the collapsed dome of an ancient volcano and the ruins of an observatory from the late 19th century can be seen there. Ben Nevis’s climate can often be cloudy and cool, so it is important to bring appropriate clothing and equipment if you’re hoping to get to the summit.
Known as one of the best short walks in Scotland, the walk leads through the dramatic gorge and ends at the spectacular Steall Falls. Steall Falls is Scotland’s second highest waterfall, with a single drop of 120 metres. The path through the gorge is clear and well-walked, but it is rocky so good footwear is essential. The walk is about 2.25 miles in total and takes around two hours.
Not to be confused with the 19th century Inverlochy Castle Hotel, the Old Inverlochy Castle is a 13th-century castle on the bank of River Lochy. The castle is now a ruin, but it was once one of the most important castles in Scotland and is still very impressive. There is an Old Military Road which goes past the castle directly to Fort William, and the area is very scenic so it is a wonderful walk.
Established in 1825, the Ben Nevis Distillery is one of the oldest in Scotland. Situated at the foot of the imposing Ben Nevis, the distillery is steeped in history and majesty. Tickets are quite cheap, adult tickets costing only £5, children under 18 £2.50 and £4.50 each for groups of fifteen or more. The distillery has won a Green Tourism Award (silver) for their efforts to support sustainable tourism. The tour includes a video experience, a guided tour of the distillery and a tasting session for those over 18.
Lochy Bridge, Fort William +44 1397 702476
The Commando Monument is a Category A listed monument as a result of its historical importance. It was unveiled in 1952 by the Queen Mother and has been almost completely unaltered since then, with only a plaque added years later. It sits in a spectacular location, with views of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mòr. There is a war memorial path connecting the Commando Monument and the local High Bridge, where the first shots were fired in the Jacobite Rising of 1745.
Kayaking, white water rafting and canoeing are popular water sports in the rivers, lochs and the Great Glen Canoe Trail in the Fort William area. Visitors can also go diving in shipwrecks or other interesting dive sites, for example in Lochaber where there are dives for experienced divers as well as more inexperienced. Sailing on the calm lochs is also recommended for those who prefer to stay dry. The beautiful scenic area around Fort William makes it the perfect area to be outside for any kind of water sport.
Lochaber Watersports Ltd, Ballachulish, Fort William, Onish +44 1855 811931
Voted the most scenic railway line in the world for two years running, the West Highland Line links Mallaig and Oban in the highlands with Glasgow in Central Scotland. From May until October, a steam train travels along the track between Fort William and Mallaig. There is usually only one train a day but this is increased to two during peak season. From Fort William, the train follows the bank of Loch Eil until it reaches the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct, which fans should recognise from the Harry Potter films.
A feat of incredible engineering, Neptune’s Staircase is a series of eight locks along the Caledonian Canal, built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822. It is the longest staircase lock in Britain and can lift boats up to 64 feet high. It is a wonderful yet easy walk along the canal from the bottom lock to the top. You will see the gates and some splendid boats. Morning is the best time to go as it will be peaceful and quiet.
Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve is a botanist’s dream with rare mountain plants like woolly willow and Highland saxifrage as far as the eye can see. The nature reserve consists of a mixture of woodland and open moorland, which is the perfect habitat for the wild black grouse which live there. In the woods, visitors can see many deer, chaffinches, willow warblers and tree pipits, as well as some native birch trees. The reserve is currently attempting to rejuvenate the birch forest which once covered the lower slopes of the nature reserve.
Creag Meagaidh Nature Reserve/Aberarder, Newtonmore +44 1528 544265
In the high street of Fort Willam’s historic centre, the West Highland Museum tells the story of the local area through artefacts and information on Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite cause, as well as lesser known aspects of the local history. It is one of the oldest museums in the highlands, it was founded in 1922 with no building to store the collections in. In 1926, the present building was bought by a former branch of the British Linen Bank.
Cameron Square, Fort William +44 1397 702169