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Fort William: The Outdoor Capital of the UK
Known as the ‘outdoor capital of the UK’, Fort William is an enticing destination choice for those that want an adventure amongst nature. Situated within the beautiful Scottish countryside and with Ben Nevis as its focal point, this charming town is ripe for exploring and experiencing a multitude of outdoor activities. Throw in a pleasant mix of shops, restaurants, pubs and hotel choices, and it is little wonder that Fort William is a popular place to spend a few days.
If outdoor fun is the prime objective of your trip, few UK destinations offer the variety and scenic beauty of Fort William. Activities such as climbing, hillwalking, mountain biking, winter sports, water sports, and so on are all at your disposal. The area is also complete with many natural sites that are popular spots to visit, with none bigger than Ben Nevis – quite literally! Recognised as the largest mountain in the UK and standing at 4,406 feet, Ben Nevis is a hotspot for travellers of various dispositions. Also when in the area, don’t miss the Nevis Range Mountain Experience – a cable car ride where you have the ideal vantage point to enjoy spectacular views. Another stunning place that begs to be uncovered is Steall Waterfall. Positioned on a route that also provides the dramatic Nevis Gorge, this waterfall is a photographer’s dream. And in nearby Banavie, you can also find Neptune’s Staircase – known as the longest staircase lock in Britain that dates back to 1803 – as part of the Caledonian Canal.
Attractions to Visit
Away from the nature-centric activities that are the main draw of the area, Fort William is also home to numerous other attractions that are worth your attention. A highlight for many visitors is the Jacobite Steam Train. Situated amongst the town’s splendid nature, this steam train is considered to travel one of the most beautiful and famous routes that the UK can provide. Another main draw is the highly regarded West Highland Museum. Positioned just off the high street in Cameron Square, this intimate museum showcases a fascinating collection of items – from shipwrecked treasure discovered from a Spanish galleon to the earliest known Highland bagpipe in existence! Additional attractions that are a recommended visit when travelling to Fort William include the Ben Nevis Distillery, Old Inverlochy Castle and Treasures of the Earth. The latter is a speciality museum that is the finest private collection of gemstones, crystals and fossils that all of Europe has to offer.
Now while packed lunches are going to be the order of the day if you are traversing mountains far away from normal civilisation, dining out is an important aspect for many when travelling – and that certainly includes Fort William. And although it’s true that it fails to supply the diversity and depth of choice that other destinations in Scotland boast, the town still has plenty of inviting locales for some exciting food experiences. Restaurants, pubs and even hotels are all safe bets when looking for a place to sample some succulent, locally sourced dishes when in the area. Speaking of locally sourced, nearby Lochaber will tend to be the source of any fresh seafood you taste. The area is also well-known for the high quality beef and venison it produces, which is used by numerous local restaurants when creating their tantalising menus. And with regards to the aforementioned pubs, these are the most common food-related establishments available, and usually contain the best of both worlds for those in Fort William – whether seeking a hearty meal, a beverage to unwind with or a combination of the two!
It is fair to say that you wouldn’t describe Fort William as a shopping metropolis. But although it is not close to the level of major Scottish cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh when it comes to retailer numbers, purchasing an assortment of gifts and essentials is a simple – and therapeutic – experience when residing in the town. Alongside a smattering of recognised retailers that are found on the high street, the area has a healthy selection of independent boutique establishments. One of the most well-known and established of these stores is The Granite House. First established all that way back in 1977, this Fort William institution is the perfect place to pick up some trinkets and souvenirs to commemorate your trip to the area. Other specialist, family run businesses sell everything from art work to outdoor equipment – ensuring it is possible to get your hands on everything you could require!