Our final destination in the Scottish Highlands is Fort William. Located over on the west coast, it is easily accessible from the cities of Glasgow and Inverness by train, bus, car, or on foot.
Fort William in the Highlands
Fort William is the second largest settlement in the Highlands – only Inverness is bigger. It is very popular with travellers as it is surrounded by Munros like Ben Nevis (the British Isles tallest mountain). (Munros are Scottish mountains, in case you were curious.) It is also the start/end of both the West Highland Way (to/from Glasgow) and the Great Glen Way (to/from Inverness).
As a result, Fort William is considered the centre for hillwalking and climbing. It lies at the opposite end of the Great Glen from Inverness, about 2 hours north of Glencoe. It is also the beginning of the Road to the Isles. (I’ll feature the Road to the Isles in a later post, but fun fact time. This road – long a drover’s track – was a single lane trunk road for much of the last century. Its last 30 mile section was only widened in 2009. Yes, you read that right. There was a one lane, ancient highway near Fort William until 8 years ago.)
What to do near Fort William
With so much hiking in the area, this is a great place to stay for at least three or four nights – if all you plan on doing is day walks. For anyone interested in long distance treks, this is your start or end. If it’s the end, staying and relaxing in town is highly recommended. The Caledonian Canal ends here, and Neptune’s Staircase is a popular stop for many people. Train lovers will definitely want to take a ride on the Jacobite steam engine train, which goes from Fort William to Mallaig.
Another popular destination near Fort William is Glenfinnan. Many know the Glenfinnan viaduct from the Harry Potter movies. In history, the Glenfinnan settlement was where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard for the first time. This was the 1745 Jacobite rebellion (Outlander fans will know what I’m taking about). Today, a monument commemorates both Charles Stuart and Flora MacDonald as well as the entire rebellion.
The Beaches of Arasaig and the port of Mallaig
Within just an hour’s drive from Fort William are some of the best beaches in Scotland. I know, you are reading this with a quizzical look on your face. Beaches, you say, in Scotland?
I can assure you that if you were not wrapped in four layers of clothing, you would think you were in the Caribbean. The beaches at Arasaig are white sandy beaches, lined with soft dunes and indigenous beach grass. The water is a clear gin blue. On a good day, you can see across to Skye.
The nearby fisherman’s village of Mallaig is quite possibly one of the best places to pick up fish n chips for lunch. This is where ferries leave for Skye, and it’s also a great spot to watch the fishing boats in the early morning or late afternoon.
Accommodation in Fort William
Because Fort William is such a popular destination for trekkers, there are plenty of bed and breakfasts, hostels, and small hotels. There are also incredible luxury properties a stone’s throw from town! These Virtuoso properties are comfortable, secluded, and exclusive. My clients receive VIP treatment as well as complimentary breakfast, high tea, late check out, and more. Amenities are often property dependent, so please get in touch with me if you would like to know more about a certain property!