Extract from GoNOMAD DESTINATION GUIDE
Fort William, Scotland: Gateway to Highland Adventures
By Charlotte Turner
Fort William is a town primarily known for being home to the United Kingdom’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. The mountain has been particularly important in the development of the town’s identity, with Fort William now claiming the title of ‘the outdoor capital of the UK.’ A significant-sized town in a fairly remote landscape, Fort William acts as gateway to Highland adventures.
Although perhaps this is an obvious
tourist attraction to many overseas visitors, many
British have an unfortunate habit of overlooking
their homeland completely when it comes to planning
their annual holidays.
Quite frankly, the possibility of spending our precious holidays squelching up a mountain makes us shudder. But I can now prove that, even if the weather lives up to its deserving reputation, this charismatic town has some of the most stunning and dramatic countryside that the British Isles has to offer.When to Go
Well, I went in August, supposedly the
middle of summer, and it rained three days out of
four. Rather unhelpfully, I kept being reminded
that I had just missed a mini heat wave and some of
the best weather the area had ever seen.
I live in London, and as my original plan
had been to camp, I arrived in the area by car.
Although we spread the journey over several days,
driving via Nottingham to visit friends and
Edinburgh to check out the Scottish capital, the
drive would have taken about 12 hours in total,
taking secondary ‘A’ roads. We took the main
Eastern artery, the A1(M), which runs from London
to the far tip of the Yorkshire Dales and then took
the A68, otherwise known as the Jedburgh Road, to
By air, most international flights will
fly into London Heathrow or London Gatwick, where
you get your connecting flight to Scotland. If you
haven’t pre-booked your internal connecting
flights, one tip that I would pass on to those
traveling on a shoestring would be to check out the
London Stansted-based budget airlines on the
internet before committing to a deal with an
overseas based travel agent.
Would it be too obvious to say Ben Nevis? The mountain itself is obviously a major draw for visitors and contributes greatly to Fort William’s commercial success. Even for those who are not that crazy about mountaineering, there is a rather convenient halfway point that is not a particularly difficult climb and is very well-trodden.
Although it is possible to do a round-trip
from this point, I was advised by staff at the Glen
Nevis Information Centre that this walk would
finish about seven miles away from the starting
point, and so I would have needed to research what
times the buses ran along the road, (and I got the
feeling that they were not that frequent.)
Neptune’s Staircase, situated just outside Fort William in the small town of Banavie, is definitely worth a look. Located opposite ‘Chase the Wild Goose’ hostel, (see below,) or on the road into Banavie from Fort William, this series of locks on the Caledonian Canal is an impressive feat of nautical engineering.Best Lodgings
For those traveling on a budget, I cannot
recommend the Chase the Wild
Goose hostel too highly.
Situated just outside Fort William in a village
called Banavie, this was the last hostel I tried as
we drive through torrential rain on the road to
Fort William from Edinburgh. Charging £14-£15 a
night, this hostel has 4-8 bedded rooms, and the
facilities were better than most hotels I have
There was a TV room, free DVD loan, a
reading lounge, free bike storage, local food/
transport/ tourist folders of information and free
tea and coffee.
For those with more money to spare, there are numerous B&B’s, (bed and breakfasts), littering the roads surrounding Fort William. If you go to the tourist office, they will help you find the type of lodging you want.Dining
As a Londoner, I had lived my entire life
with the promise that London is the most expensive
place in the UK. I found this to be a myth, as the
rest of England appears to be catching up at a