Scottish native? An exile, perhaps marooned elsewhere in the currently United Kingdom? Living far out there in the real world but with Scottish antecedents? The desire to visit parts of Bonnie Scotland can be a powerful one. Fight strongly against it! Time you knew the truth about some of the myths, especially about the Wild West (Highlands) of this bedevilled land. Let’s spill the beans about some treasured jewels in Scotland’s crown – by-the-by it’s actually kept elsewhere…

1. Ben Nevis

Yes, the highest mountain in the British Isles – but that just means it’s a bloody big climb. And, my it looks pretty in the moonlight, although your fingers have just dropped off with frostbite as you tried to take a picture, which might slightly inconvenience you for the rest of your life. Serious climbers love it. But try to get one of them to buy you a drink – good luck, they have crampons on their wallets and purses! Mind you, there is always the Ben Nevis distillery.

Read about Ben Nevis


2. Nevis Range Mountain Gondola

Who doesn’t want to float across a crystal-calm loch on a flat-bottomed boat, steered by a handsome young Italian… What? A cable car taking you right up that damn mountain? Well, Scots do like to be as far away from each other as possible! Okay, yeah, stunning panoramic views, clear mountain air at over 2,000 feet, only such system in Britain, great for skiers and climbers, but who’s going to sing arias to us as we go?

Read about Nevis Range Mountain Resort


3. Caledonian Canal

Sixty miles thrilling of man-made canal (if that floats your boat) plus four lochs, the last of which is innovatively called Loch Lochy. So, taking their lead if you must, you can Caledonian Canaly yourself by cruise ship, barge, even canoe. Locals usually just walk on the water, and studiously ignore all that mind-blowing scenery…

Read about the Caledonian Canal


Neptune staircase

4. Jacobite Steam train

Apparently, the Jacobites, whose aim was to restore the Stuart kings to the throne in the 18th century, must have travelled to their battles by steam train. Today’s version takes you from Fort William out to Mallaig. Thankfully it also brings you back! By the way, if you see a small, mustachioed Belgian detective on the train, you’ve probably just enjoyed too much whisky flavoured shortbread for breakfast!

Read about the Jacobite Steam Train

Image Credit: Steven Feather

5. Old Inverlochy Castle

How did they know to call it ‘old’ when it was first built over seven hundred years ago? It has lots of history, and battles, blah de blah. Queen Victoria visited once; probably when she reached that decision ‘not to be amused’ by things. Best to avoid people using words like ‘keep’, ‘portcullis’, ‘moat’ and especially ‘enceinte’. Don’t even nod, they’re just showing off.

Read about Old Inverlochy Castle


6. Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Jacobite train above rumbles over it, it’s almost 400 metres in length, 100 feet high – and probably doesn’t even sway in a highland breeze. They knew how to build ‘em a century ago; but how they also realised it would be needed for Harry Potter and Ron Weasley to swoop under in an old Ford Anglia is more impressive. Sorry, obscure film reference there.

Read about the Glenfinnan Viaduct

Glenfinnan Viaduct


7. Glenfinnan Monument

Towering (get it?) above Loch Shiel this is in remembrance of the unsuccessful Jacobite uprising of 1745 and many native and ex-pat travellers do find it a moving memorial to visit. Scots have long given up crafting monuments to unsuccessful campaigns. Just as well as you wouldn’t even be able to see Hampden Park for them!

Read about the Glenfinnan Monument


8. Commando Memorial

Set close to Spean Bridge, this is a place of such pride and remembrance to so many, no jokes from us about this moving monument to great sacrifice. Besides, who’d be daft enough to annoy any Commandos – past or present?

Read about the Commando Memorial


9. West Highland Way

Apparently, if you happen to find yourself in the Milngavie area of Glasgow, want to go to Fort William, but are too mean to hire a taxi or take the train – you can walk the whole way! The West Highland Way to be precise – a hundred miles of, well, walking. Okay nice scenery, such as Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe and the like, but there will be weather. Lots of weather. And please don’t take your boots off in our presence when you reach Fort William. Stinky socks!!

Read about the West Highland Way

Image Credit: Pierre-André Dalcq

10. Ben Nevis Distillery

Well, who in their right mind would want to visit a distillery that’s fast coming up to its bicentenary; one that distills products such as a superb 10 year old single west highland malt; offers special blends; all using superb clear water from two small lochans? Hello? Anybody there? Where on earth have all our readers suddenly disappeared to…

Image Credit: Annalise Tindal

11. Glen Nevis

Okay, the name sounds a bit like a local singer in a Fort William bar, but this actually refers to the scenic glen beside the town. Warning: your peaceful stroll might be disturbed by some Hollywood superstar filming their next epic. So it certainly takes a Braveheart to wander this area; and it’s not a good idea to start laughing at any attempts at Scottish accents you might hear! It’s also host to the famous Steall Falls – sounds like the singer’s backing group…

Read about Glen Nevis

Image Credit: Alister MacBain

… if you don’t have a head for heights, and if this is the case, what is it about the word ‘highlands’ that you didn’t get, these are the Lower Falls. Crashing waterfalls, no toilets in sight, huge boulders to contemplate – what’s not to love about this spot…

Image Credit: Delboy1940Essex

… and this is a sign for Dun Deardail, described as ‘A Desirable Residence in Glen Nevis’ – well it would have been a couple of millennia ago. The posh name for this crude stone enclosure is a vitrified fort, usually offering strong defensive positions. An unknown concept for Scottish football teams in Europe.

Image Credit: Bob Berch

12. Loch Ness Monster

Judging by the lack of recent pictures, she hates selfies and mobile phones, but Nessie definitely possibly exists. Even if we told you she didn’t, you’d still turn up on the shores of Loch Ness to eagerly photo some driftwood. Here is an accurate artist’s impression of this genuine mythical creature…

Image Credit: Sarah Grace

13. A wealth of exciting animals

Offering exceptionally hairy cows and proud stags (of the non-human type), lots of deer people just love the wildlife of the Fort William area. Do take time to enjoy the wafting clouds of gentle midges who welcome visitors during much of the rainy season – or, as locals call it, the year. In case you don’t know what a hairy coo actually looks like, here’s one. Take a picture and have a fun ‘guess which elderly relative this most looks like’ competition when you get home…

Image Credit: Marcus Ward

14. A chance for a ‘seafood and eat it’ joke

We won’t bother, you’ll already have done it. But the Crannog Seafood Restaurant in Fort William even offers loch cruises before a three-course lunch (summer evening options are available). So look out for the red roof of the old bait shed. You won’t want to share the superb food with anyone else – but then it’s okay to be shellfish (best said in a Sean Connery accent).

Image Credit: James Dean Shepherd

15. Watch out – bikes about!

Mostly friendly, the folk around Fort William. But, get in the way of a mountain biker on the Nevis Range trails, and you’ll quickly have tyre marks from stem to stern. The area hosts a UCI Mountain Bike and Trails World Championship track and the Scottish Six Days Motorcycle Trial has been fully based in Fort William since 1977. Stand, watch, pretend you could do it.

Image Credits: Left, Helen Andrews – Right, Colin Appleyard

16. And they’re just as wild on foot and on the water!

It’s all William Swan’s fault! A Fort William barber, in 1895 he set off on the first timed ascent and descent of Ben Nevis, probably using the short back and sides route. Now, each year, the Ben Nevis Race has 600 entrants. Don’t even think about it!

Image Credit: Richard Cowan

Meanwhile, on the water, raising funds for Lochaber Mountain Rescue, the Glen Nevis river race sees competitors on lilos, and here’s a technical explanation, ‘scootin’ doonstream like eejits’. Proof in a picture…

Image Credit: No Fuss Events

17. Loch Linnhe

Did you know that lochs, depending on their location, could also be called lakes, inlets, firths, estuaries, straits and bays? That exciting snippet should cause a few eyes to glaze over back home. Feel free to add that Linnhe means ‘pool’. More? The upstream part is known as An Linne Dhubh (black pool), and downstream as An Linne Sheileach (salty). This will make a terrific start to your 3-hour multi-media presentation on ‘Our Scottish Holiday’, so here’s an atmospheric picture…

Image Credit: Adrian Walmsley

And finishing up with half-a-dozen ways to get some much-needed exercise!

18. Walk those Marilyns; climb those Munroes!

Ever ascended a pun? Well, hills over 492ft are thus called, because mountains over 3,000ft are called Munros. There’s plenty of either variety in and around the Fort William area. What isn’t funny is folk who don’t properly prepare, or use adequate clothing and footwear, tell others where they are, and when they’re returning. Too often the services of Mountain Rescue are required, when actually the peaks are fine, it’s the fools who are climbing them who are the problem! Here’s a Munro about to suffer weather-wise, you’ll see what we mean…

Image Credit: Dave Butcher

19. Fishing

This paragraph is about a thousand words long. Honest! Fisher folk would never fib. There are lochs, rivers and sea, even a canal, fishing opportunities within easy reach of Fort William. A shoal of choices for the fanatical angler or occasional pole and hook funster. Whatever you catch, you can ask your friendly hotel or guest house owner to cook for your tea. You can certainly ask…

Image Credit: Fearghàl Nessbank

20. Skiing & Snowboarding

Nevis Range – name sounds like a handsome yet windswept adventure-mad superhero. Actually that isn’t a bad description of the Mountain Resort itself. The Chair Ride can take you upwards; allegedly your skills, equipment and courage can carry you back down. You’ll enjoy copious amounts of après ski. We prefer, wimpishly, instead ski…

Image Credit: Addy

21. Wild Camping

Pitch a tent, lose your temper, have a ferocious family argument. An alternative method of wild camping is to get away from campsites, off the beaten track, head for remote spots. Do be sensible and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. By the way, those night-time noises are definitely not marauding highland beasties. Well, not usually.

Image Credit: Peter Smith

Have we not managed to put you off yet?

21 terrible choices, even if they would make your time in and around Fort William whizz by, give you a lifetime of cherished scenic and fun memories; added to by the warmth of a Highland welcome, with terrific places to stay, eat and drink. Okay, we admit defeat, we will permit you to visit if you must. Three final things to know:

1. Not all Scotsmen play the bagpipes and eat haggis. The results would fly like missiles for up to 200 metres

2. In spite of rumours, Scots people are not mean. So tip us as generously as you want

3. Nothing is ever worn under the kilt – it’s all as good as new, thank you

We guess we’ll be seeing you soon…



Comments are now closed.

23 Comments on 21 reasons why not to visit Fort William

Posted Wed 24th Jul 03:07am by Linnea

Thank you for this most entertaining post about Fort William. It is so cleverly written! I laughed all the way through. I will be visiting Scotland at the end of September and am trying to read as much as I can when I saw your title. My stomache dropped. I thought, "Uh oh. Is Fort William so bad there are 21 reasons to stay away?!?" Brilliant!!!

Posted Wed 12th Sep 02:10pm by June Eggert

My daughter's family is visiting you today! and I'm house/pet caring inColorado. So, I enjoyed getting to visit Ft.William , etc. by your pictures and amusing commentaries. Thanks for the views and chuckles.'.hope to experience it all in person someday. 'Hope you are having a wonderful day!

Posted Tue 28th Feb 05:05pm by Linda Seaton

Amazing how so much of Scotland looks like Oregon (except for our lack of anything historical)
Much the same climate, rain and green. Lots of green. Thanks for the article. Anxious to visit !

Posted Wed 11th Jan 11:38am by

We won't even try to keep you away Glynis! Haha. That's a great story about the Commandos, and your Dad sounds like a hardy man! Hope you enjoy your visit in May :)

Posted Wed 11th Jan 10:19am by Glynis Prentis

Sorry, but you can't keep me away that easily!
Brilliant advert for a wonderful area, and you are so right Greg Mackenzie - the people are lovely. The respect and thanks I, and two friends, received last year because our fathers were Commandoes who trained at Achnarcarry, was absolutely overwhelming! My Father, Chuck Harris of 47 RM commandoes, is still going at 94 - and he and his colleagues have nothing but praise for Fort William and its people.
Looking forward to visiting in May, and showing off the area to some friends on their first visit.

Posted Sat 7th Jan 07:57pm by

It certainly is a very beautiful and friendly town, Greg.

Posted Sat 7th Jan 07:54pm by Greg Mackenzie

In the nearly two years I lived there I have seen all of your top twenty , but the best things about Fort William are it's natural beauty and its PEOPLE!!!!

Posted Sat 7th Jan 03:38pm by

Great to hear you'll be back Rose, and that you love the place so much! :)

Posted Fri 6th Jan 04:57pm by

Thanks for pointing this error out to us Garry, we'll amend this shortly.

Posted Fri 6th Jan 09:48am by Garry

One small point ..... the SSSDT will have been based exclusively in Fort William for 40 years this year, not 30, and has been closely associated with the town since before the second World War .....

Posted Fri 6th Jan 04:21am by Rose Sadd

I'll see you again in September...I fall in love with you since I first set my foot and eyes on you Fort William in could I ever forget you??? I looooooove Fort William and nothing and no one can't stop me loving this paradise, winter or summer it's the perfect place to be!!!

Posted Thu 5th Jan 11:26pm by

Good to hear it gave you a laugh Christa, and I'm sure you'll enjoy every minute of your time here :)

Posted Thu 5th Jan 11:22pm by Christa

This made me laugh out loud several times, and not regret adding Fort William to our upcoming May trip.

Posted Thu 5th Jan 07:20pm by

Here you go :)

Posted Thu 5th Jan 07:17pm by

Hi Archie.

Thanks for your comment. We wanted to keep things as closely related to Fort William as possible. The Crannog Restaurant had nothing to do with it being a seafood restaurant, more that it stands out as probably the most unique restaurant in Fort William. You are right about the Loch Leven Seafood Restaurant being great, as are many other restaurants in and around Fort William.

The other things, such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct, Glenfinnan Monument and Commando Memorial are quite big and well-known tourist attractions, and they are close enough to Fort William to be Included.

Inchree Falls would have been a good place to mention, although we have included Steall Falls and the Lower Falls in Glen Nevis.

We'll do our best to include these things we've missed in a future blog post :)

Posted Thu 5th Jan 07:10pm by Cort Malcolm Cameron

Fascinating ! I'd love ❤️ to go to the Cameron Museum someday ! I'll find out if it has a website - Thanks, CMC

Posted Thu 5th Jan 07:07pm by

Thanks for the kind words Kit, glad you enjoyed the post.

Posted Thu 5th Jan 07:02pm by Archie

Why mention the Crannog when the Loch Leven Seafood Cafe is so much better. I know it is not in Fort William but neither is Glenfinnan nor the Commando Memorial etc. Alaso the waterfall at Inchree is well worth a mention.

Posted Thu 5th Jan 04:51pm by Kit

Great post,I lived across the water on Ardnamurchan for several years,love Fort William especially during the Highland Games in Glenfinnan! ❤

Posted Thu 5th Jan 03:19pm by

Very interesting to know that Cort, thanks for sharing. I think we might actually do a post about local clans in the near future. We have the Clan Cameron Museum in Achnacarry, it's well worth the visit if you're around.

Posted Thu 5th Jan 03:16pm by

Great to hear Glenda, we're sure you'll love it here. That sounds very cold! Thankfully we're only experiencing a mild 1 below today.

Posted Thu 5th Jan 03:11pm by Cort Malcolm Cameron

Fort William has been the center of the Cameron universe for many hundreds of years. We are a hardy bunch with "broken noses" which is where the Cameron name came from in Scottish Gaelic ! I could go on for eons, but I'll save that for possible future posts !

Posted Thu 5th Jan 02:55pm by Glenda

Will be seeing you in September! It is 25 below here in Montana this morning.
Thanks for sharing.