Best Things to Do In and Around Fort William
On the shores of Loch Linnhe and Loch Eli lies the second largest town in the Scottish Highlands, Fort William. This town of just 10,000 people is a major Scottish tourist hub with easy access to the Scottish Isles and the Munro Mountains. Fort William is definitely a place to see if you are looking for a holiday option that lets you experience the rawness and beauty of nature in a Highlands setting.
There are so many wonderful ways to spend your time in Fort William that you might need several trips to the region to do everything you are hoping to accomplish. Even the locals find unending opportunities to enjoy their home. Here are a few suggestions if you are looking for the best things to do in and around Fort William:
Caledonian Canal Tour
Scotland’s West Coast offers a number of very impressive waterways that are perfect for exploration. One of them is the Caledonian Canal, a 19th-century waterway built to connect Inverness with Corpach. Interestingly enough, only about 30% of the total length of the canal is man-made. Engineer Thomas Telford took advantage of four natural lochs already in the area when he planned the canal’s route.
A Caledonian Canal tour is a great way to see one of the most spectacular and impressive waterways in the world. Clyde Cruises offer daily, scheduled short cruises on the canal during the summer months, with varying lengths and time schedules. It’s possible to do round trips or one way sailings and even possible to sail some of the canal and cycle back! Take a trip along the Caledonian Canal to get a view of Scotland you have never seen before.
Ben Nevis Trekking
Fort William is known as the ‘outdoor capital of the UK’, so it is fitting that we begin our list of things to do with a trekking adventure to the top of Ben Nevis. It just so happens that Ben Nevis is the highest mountain peak in the British Isles, standing and just over 1300 metres. Approximately 10,000 people make the ascent every year with the help of experienced guides leading the way.
A trek to the top of Ben Nevis results in a spectacular view of the surrounding area. You will also see the ruins of a former observatory once used by meteorologists to collect weather data during the late 19th century. Moreover, if you are an experienced climber looking for something more than a guided trek, Ben Nevis offers a number of challenging climbs for you to participate in.
Nevis Range Gondola
There is another great way to enjoy the Nevis Range without having to trek or mountain climb: ride a gondola. The Nevis Range Mountain Experience offers you Britain’s only gondola ride through the mountains. Passengers enjoy a slow and scenic ride covering a 650-metre ascent along the slopes of Aonach Mor. Once at the top you can enjoy a great meal at the restaurant and bar or use the opportunity to take plenty of photos. Trips are available seven days a week between 9.30am and 5pm.
Jacobite Steam Train
Taking a ride on an old steam train lets you experience what regional transportation used to be like in the days before petrol driven cars. The Jacobite Steam Train takes you on an 84-mile round-trip journey beginning at the base of Ben Nevis. You will pass through Glenfinnan, Lochailort and a number of other beautiful railway towns as you travel through some of the same areas as the fictional Hogwarts Express of Harry Potter fame.
You might also be interested to know that some of the Jacobite’s carriages were used in the Harry Potter film series. Not only is this one of the best steam train rides in the world, it is one that absolutely must be experienced by every true Harry Potter fan.
Ben Nevis Distillery
Not everything in Fort William is about the great outdoors. Take the Ben Nevis Distillery, for example. This distillery just happens to be one of the oldest in Scotland, having been established in 1825. For nearly 190 years, it has been producing fine Scotch whisky known locally as the ‘Dew of Ben Nevis’. The distillery provides public tours throughout the year on Monday through Friday; some tours are offered on Saturdays during the busy season.
The Ardnamurchan Lighthouse has been safely guiding ships off Scotland’s west coast for the better part of 165 years. Ardnamurchan is a 118-ft. tower made of pink granite and built by Alan Stevenson in the Egyptian style. It is the only Egyptian style lighthouse in the UK.
Although still in use, Ardnamurchan was automated in the late 1980s, rendering the former cottages and outbuildings unnecessary. They have been taken over by the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust who now operates a visitor centre and museum on the site. Consider visiting this historic lighthouse to learn all about its history and operations. You will experience the old lighthouse workshop, the restored engine room, and lots more.
Glencoe Mountain Resort
We offer the Glencoe Mountain Resort as our last thing to do in and around Fort William – specifically for those looking for an extended resort experience. Glencoe is one of the more popular resorts in the Highlands among tourists from all over. It offers everything you are looking for in an outdoor experience.
During the summer months, Glencoe is the place to be for mountain biking, climbing, trekking, orienteering and hill walking. Ride the resort’s ski lifts up and down the mountains for great views and photography opportunities. During the winter, it is all about the snow. Glencoe offers a full range of winter sports including skiing, snowboarding, and sledging. It even offers certified avalanche rescue training.
Fort William is a destination like no other. Whether you are local or from out of town, there is always something exciting to do here. We invite you to come and make a day of it or, better yet, visit Fort William and the surrounding area for your next extended holiday. And while you are in town, be sure to spend a day with us at Clyde Cruises the unique Caledonian Canal cruise is not to be missed.