Fort William

 

 

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Fort William (An Gearasden) is the largest town in the Highlands, second only to the City of Inverness in size. The town justifiably lives up to its claim to be the outdoor capital of the UK as a result of its location at the head of a sea loch (Loch Linnhe) and immediately under Britain’s highest mountain, (Ben Nevis – Click for picture). The town is also very close to The Nevis Range Ski Centre at Aonach Mor (The Nevis Range¬†Gondola system¬†gives access to skiing areas in winter and transports walkers and mountain bikers into the hills in summer). As a result Fort William can offer visitors the opportunity to climb, sail, ski, mountain bike and enjoy a rich variety of scenic walks. The town is also well situated to explore the Western Highlands with easy access to Glen Coe, Mallaig and the Inner Hebrides, via the ‘Road to the Isles’, and north to Inverness and the Northern Highlands. Visitors can also cruise through the Great Glen via the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness to Inverness.

Fort William is the northern end of the West Highland Way, a 100mile (160km) challenging walking route linking Fort William to Milngavie just north of Glasgow As a break from energetic activities, Fort William has every facility including hotels, restaurants, bars, gift shops supermarkets and a sports centre. The Town also hosts the Mountain Bike World Championship and the Scottish Six Day Motorcycle Trial.

Fort William is the terminus for the West Highland ‘Caledonian Sleeper‘ service from London (Euston Station) which provides a very relaxing service, enabling visitors to arrive well rested to enjoy the many energetic activities on offer and an equally relaxing return home. Fort William is also the start of the famous steam train (The Jacobite) which runs between Fort William and Mallaig from early spring until late autumn and also at the Christmas/New Year holiday break. Gordon Webster’s image (above left) has captured the Caledonian Sleeper’s arrival as the Jacobite prepares to depart for Mallaig.

The Jacobite service on the final approach to Fort William Station after the return journey from Fort William to Mallaig. The lack of a turntable at Mallaig requires the engine to run tender first on the return journey.

The Royal Scot, headed by a Class 37 locomotive, crossing the River Lochy Bridge on the outskirts of Fort William. The Belmond Royal Scot is considered one of the world’s most luxurious trains and offers a supremely comfortable way to see the West Highland’s dramatic scenery.

On an early April day the 12.21ex Glasgow Queen Street Station (16.19 ex Fort William) to Mallaig crosses the River Lochy Bridge with the dominant shoulder of Ben Nevis and the ruins of the 13th century Inverlochy Castle immediately behind. In the distance Glen Nevis and the snow capped Mamore Mountains; a super, but challenging area for mountaineers and experienced hill walkers.