Are you looking for new or exciting things to fill up your weekends? Fort William & Lochaber is an iconic area in the Highlands of Scotland, with dramatic scenery, towering mountains, and acres of landscapes you can explore until your heart's content.
These suggestions are not just for visitors - if you're lucky enough to call this region home, then these ideas are for you too!
Wander through Glen Coe
A very famous spot on the Scottish map, Glen Coe is home to atmospheric scenery that is popular with tourists and locals alike for walking, hiking and exploring. There are many trails which are great to choose from for short afternoon wanders that won't take you too far from home. Some of these include:
- Brecklet Trail, Ballachulish - a waymarked trail stretching up above the Ballachulish Slate Quarries, giving incredible views and taking you through lush forest complete with hidden ruins along the way.
- Lost Valley (Coire Gabhail), Glen Coe - this is the hidden valley where the MacDonald's of Glen Coe hid their rustled cattle. It is a dramatic and atmospheric walk that's definitely worth a spot on your to-do list!
- The Pap of Glencoe - a slightly longer route for the more experienced hill walkers, the pap provides majestic views from the top but the ascent is steep and rugged.
Find more walks in Glen Coe.
The small town of Banavie is home to the impressive Neptune's Staircase. This incredible feat of engineering raises the Caledonian Canal by 19 m (62 ft) to allow boats to continue to travel up or down the locks. It's the perfect spot for relaxing and soaking up the surrounding nature and spectacular views of the towering Ben Nevis.
Did you know…
- You can visit nearby Caol Beach which creates the perfect setting to watch a glorious Highland sunset.
- It is also part of the Great Glen Way route, and has plenty of walking and cycling paths.
- It was built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822, it is the longest staircase lock in Scotland.
Visit Neptune's Staircase.
Great Glen Way
This popular, yet challenging, walking route creatively ties together the towns and villages between Fort William and Inverness with miles of raw Scottish landscapes to explore in between. The Great Glen Way stretches 117 km through the Scottish Highlands and passes through some truly stunning spots along the way, including Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, forests surrounding Loch Ness and also along the towpath of the Caledonian Canal, built by Thomas Telford.
Did you know:
- The route path allows visitors to walk along the natural fault line which divides up Scotland's coasts.
- You can travel by boot, boat or bike. With the route taking in paths, track, canals and lochs it can be uncovered in a variety of ways.
- You can start the walk at different stages, it's up to you which one you pick.
Explore the Great Glen Way.
Ariundle Oakwood National Nature Reserve
Home to precious, ancient oakwoods, this NNR is a magical place to visit at any time of the year. The Ariundle Oakwood NNR is a lush green haven for many species of flora and fauna, including mosses, lichens and liverworts. It also boasts lovely scenic walking routes and trails to follow that will take you deep into the dense woodland - a perfect choice if you want to escape for an hour or two.
Did you know…
- This peaceful woodland is a rare surviving fragment of the native oakwoods that once cloaked Europe's Atlantic coast.
- If you keep your eyes peeled, you may be able to spot the woods' elusive residents - pine martens, otters and wildcats.
- The reserve is an ideal location for a sheltered winter walk. Keep a look out for buzzards in the woods and birds of prey flying overhead.
Visit Ariundle Oakwood NNR.
Fan of snowsports? Did you know two out of five of Scotland's Ski resorts are based in The Outdoor Capital of the UK? Glencoe Mountain Resort boasts outstanding natural beauty all year round - perfect your skiing or snowboarding skills whilst soaking up stunning views of the iconic Buachaille Etive Mor.
Elsewhere, the Nevis Range reaches high onto the mountain of Aonach Mor and offers skiing and boarding up to 1190 metres running late into the spring season. The base of the snowsports area is accessed by the UK's only Mountain Gondola, taking visitors to 650 metres. An artificial slope also provides skiing opportunities when snow is lean.
Did you know:
- The Glencoe resort also offers summer activities. Get involved in biking, tubing, treasure hunts and events, so you don't need to wait for snow to fall, you can enjoy the resort all year round!
- You can take advantage of the season passes, allowing you to make the most of snowsports in the area.
- The Nevis Range also has a wide range of alternative winter activities to offer, including sledging and snowshoeing.
*Please note, only some areas of the resort are reopening in July. Please check their website for more details.*
Go skiing in the Outdoor Capital of the UK.
The magical scenery of Lochaber is rich in geological wonder. Aside from incredible scenery, the Lochaber Geopark is recognised for its unique and outstanding geological heritage - with mountains, lochs, rivers, coasts, cliffs and sandy beaches showing off evidence of the everchanging geology in the area.
Did you know?
- Find out about stories of ancient fiery volcanos and powerful glaciers carving out the lochs and glens centuries ago.
- Discover world-renowned sites, such as the volcanic rings of Ardnamurchan, the Ben Nevis Caldera, and the Parallel Roads of Glen Roy.
- The renowned naturalist Charles Darwin was fascinated by the geology of this area and visited Lochaber in the 1800s.
- Explore the Ardnamurchan Peninsula - it's the most westerly point in mainland Britain and here you can visit the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse with brilliant views of the Inner and Outer Hebrides.
- Lochaber is famous for the 'Big 5': golden eagles, red deer, otters, seals and red squirrels. Keep your eyes peeled!
Explore the Lochaber Geopark.
Glencoe Visitor Centre
Explore this strikingly dramatic glen with high mountain peaks and ridges on either side. If you're new to the area or exploring Scotland's outdoors, the Glencoe Visitor Centre is your gateway to exploring this spectacular area.
Where will you explore?
- Follow in the footsteps of Clan MacDonald and learn all about the tragic massacre of 1692.
- Get close to nature with local rangers on a wildlife Land Rover Safari.
- Climb, or just get up close, to the many towering mountains that feature in the glen.
- Get to know this world-famous location that has featured in Harry Potter, Outlaw King, The 39 Steps, Braveheart, Rob Roy and Skyfall.
Visit the Glencoe Visitor Centre.
Ardnamurchan Point is the most westerly point in mainland Britain and here you can find Ardnamurchan Lighthouse - a 36 metre granite tower soaring 55 metres above the rocks. The lighthouse was built in 1849 using granite from the Isle of Mull and was designed by Alan Stevenson, uncle of Robert Stevenson (civil engineer), whose family designed most of Scotland's lighthouses over a period of 150 years.
Did you know:
- It is the only lighthouse in the world designed in an 'Egyptian' style.
- Just like all the other lighthouses in Scotland, Ardnamurchan now operates automatically, but the tower remains fully operational and still plays a vital role in ensuring the safety of all ships navigating the waters off Scotland's west coast.
- Take a coastal walk from Portuairk all the way to the fabulous sands of Sanna with spectacular views to the Small Isles of Rum and Eigg.
Explore Ardnamurchan Point.
With so many places to visit across Scotland, will you head to one of your favourites or try somewhere new?