A visitor’s guide to Fort William, Scotland
Standing in the shadows of Ben Nevis, at 4,409 feet the highest mountain in the British Isles, lies the town of Fort William. Situated on the shores of Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil, at the mouth of the rivers Nevis and Lochy and at the southern end of the Great Glen, Fort William is the bustling tourist centre for the Western Highlands and the gateway to the ‘Road to the Isles’.
Situated on the shores of Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil, and at the mouth of the rivers Nevis and Lochy and at the southern end of the Great Glen, Fort William is an ideal destination for visitors to the west coast of Scotland and offers a wide choice of activities and things to do.
The town’s name is derived from the fort William, built in 1690 by the English to control the Scottish clans and is named after William of Orange, King William III of England. The settlement that grew up around the fort was originally called Maryburgh and over the following years was known variously as Gordonsburgh and Duncansburgh before being renamed Fort William. The fort withstood the Jacobite assaults of the 1715 and 1745 Risings before being finally demolished in the nineteenth century to make way for the railway. Today Fort William is a major tourist destination.
The busy High Street boasts a range of shops selling a wide variety of goods and souvenirs, both Scottish and international. For enthusiasts and lovers of the great outdoors, climbers, hill walkers and mountain bikers are particularly catered for.
As you would expect there is a good choice of places to eat and drink, from traditional pubs and hotels to cafes, coffee shops and restaurants. The local hotels, guest houses and many bed & breakfast establishments offer accommodation to suit all. There are also camping and caravan sites and back-packers hostels available.
Located on the south side of Cameron Square just off the high street the West Highland Museum is well worth a visit. It vividly captures the life, history and times of the area and admission is free. It is crammed with a plethora of interesting exhibits, including the death mask of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
The Ben Nevis Distillery, established in 1825, is open for visitors with guided tours for them to discover the secrets of Whisky distilling and sample a wee dram and the unique taste of the ‘Dew of Ben Nevis’. Admission charges are £4 for adults and £2 for children.