Located on the northeastern shore of Loch Linnhe, Fort William is known as the UK’s “outdoor capital.” Behind Inverness, it’s the second largest settlement in the Highlands. Famous for its multiple hillwalking trails, mountain climbing, bike paths, and snow and water sports, this Scottish town is a mecca for adventure travel. It’s also home to Ben Nevis, the UK’s tallest mountain, which makes this a popular destination for climbers.
Prefer to keep your adventure more low key. Taking it easy is simple in this historic town. From walking to castle hopping to fishing, Fort William has plenty to offer those who prefer a slower pace. It also boasts a wide array of delicious restaurants to help you pass the time, many of which offer amazing views. No matter which path you choose to take in Fort William, you’ll be surrounded by immense beauty and unbeatable vistas. Fun fact: Fort William was the first British town to use hydroelectricity to light its streets and let’s exploce Top Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Fort William below.
Top Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Fort William
The walk to Steall Falls from the Glen Nevis car park is majestic. Ears will delight in the calming sounds of wind, rushing water, and footsteps on the rocky path below. An easy but sometimes slippery trek, the well worn path to the falls takes you through deep green, moss-covered trees that look as if they could start walking and talking at any moment. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons the makers of Harry Potter chose this spot as the setting for an intense Quidditch match.
You may hear the falls before seeing them in the heart of the dramatic Nevis Gorge. As you get closer, you’ll notice a steel rope bridge hovering. Precariously over the water below. It’s best to wear hiking boots or a good pair of running shoes if you’re planning to traverse the wobbly (but strong and sturdy) wires. Your reward: an up close and personal view of the falls, the second highest in Scotland at over 394 feet.
This incredible example of engineering prowess sits in a small village called Banavie, four miles north of Fort William. Neptune’s Staircase is a series of locks that span a quarter mile and raise the canal by 19 meters to allow boats to travel up or down. Built by Thomas Telford in the early 19th century, it remains Britain’s longest staircase lock and a fascinating system to watch.
If you time it right, you can catch a glimpse of the Jacobite Steam Train billowing across a nearby bridge. Have your camera at the ready. Even better, you’ll be able to watch the locks in motion and marvel as two bridges swing out of the way to allow a passing boat to enter before closing and allowing the lock to fill with water. When the area is devoid of action, and you’ve tired of walking the endless paths and admiring the view (a hard thing to get bored by), wander through the nearby shops or grab a bite at a local restaurant.
If you aren’t paying attention on your way into town from Mallaig, you could miss this quaint church, and that would be a shame. It’s easy to do. You’re driving along, gaping at the astonishing hillsides, squinting at the sun shimmering off Loch Shiel, and then you see something amazing flash by. Our advice: slow down and keep your eyes open. The church, which was consecrated in 1873, is found about 30 minutes outside of Fort William and rests just above the lake.
Also known as the Church of St. Mary and St. Finnan, this Gothic building is small but impressive. Inside, you’ll find an understated altar lying below a bright and colorful stained glass window in a unique flower pattern. You’ll also find sculptured columns and memorial stones to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the MacDonald family.
Climb Ben Nevis
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. The ruins of an observatory from the late 19th century can be seen from the top. 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.