12 Incredible Things to do in Fort William
Fort William is a popular destination for travellers and hikers, attracting thousands of visitors every year. The scenic town is tucked away alongside Loch Linnhe in the western Scottish Highlands and offers some of the most incredible natural scenery in the UK.
If you’re planning a getaway in the Highlands and looking for things to do in Fort William, our guide has got you covered. We’ve picked out some of the best walks, activities and local attractions that will keep your days filled with fun and adventure.
For those looking for sites to stay nearby, don’t forget to read our guide on the best campsites in Fort William.
Check out Fort William’s scenic walking routes
If you enjoy woodland walks, whatever the weather, this beautiful scenic trail is for you. Starting out in Treslaig Village near the Camusnagual ferry, there are plenty of trails that lead you through the ancient woodland.
Find your own way through or stick to the signposted pathway to discover local wildlife and plenty of hidden natural treasures. This circular route is just over a mile long, making it ideal for an easy afternoon stroll for couples or solo travellers.
This scenic route offers a slightly more challenging walk for intermediate hikers. The 5.6 mile trail starts out in the heart of Fort William at the leisure centre and takes you through birch woods before emerging onto open heath. Along the way, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the town and Loch Linnhe.
Allt Mhuic Butterfly Reserve
Nature lovers will enjoy discovering the beautiful sights and sounds of this trail, which is situated alongside the northern shores of Loch Arkaig The reserve was created and is maintained by the Forestry Commission as a conservation project to protect the local butterfly population. Be sure to take your camera along as the reserve has plenty of incredible views waiting to be captured.
If you like hunting for history, there’s plenty to discover on this 6.5 mile route through this iron age hill fort. Located near the surrounding Sghorr Chalum in the Glen Nevis region, it is believed to have been built during the first millennium BC. The route starts at the Braveheart Car Park and you’ll need to follow the signposts for Wishing Stone and Pond Trails.
The Lost Valley – otherwise known as Coire Gabhail – is a hidden valley that was famously used by the MacDonalds of Glencoe to hide their cattle after escaping the 1692 massacre.
The path up to the Lost Valley is a challenging 2.5 mile out-and-back route. It includes sections of easy scrambling, bridges, waterfalls and a river crossing, with areas of steep and often rocky terrain. However, it’s worth the effort, as you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views back across Glencoe and the surrounding peaks.
Taking an average of 1 hour 25 minutes to complete, the trail is also great for fishing and birding along the way. If you’re looking to reconnect with nature, the huge valley at the end provides a tranquil setting to disconnect and simply enjoy the outdoors.
Buachaille Etive Mòr
One of the more well known Munro peaks, Buachaille Etive Mòr, is one of the most photographed sights in Scotland. The area is well known for its rock climbing routes, but it also has a lot to offer to walkers. You can access the hiking route from the A82 below the peak (the Altnafeadh layby), opposite the starting point towards the Devil’s Staircase.
Recommended for those who are more experienced, the route features a challenging steep and rough ascent followed by a bouldery bridge. Once on the ridge, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views from Rannoch Moor to Ben Nevis and beyond. Be aware that the descent is also steep and scrambly at times – however, the walk through the Lairig has a good path.
Climb Ben Nevis
It wouldn’t be a list of Fort William activities without mentioning one of the main reasons so many travellers venture to the Highland town. Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the UK and has become a right of passage for hikers and mountaineers. If you’re looking for a new challenge and something to tick off your bucket list, this is a must while visiting Fort William.
There are multiple different routes you can take to the summit but you’ll want to clear a full day as the 4,411ft climb takes around 8 hours. The good news is, you’ll be presented with incredible 360° panoramic vistas which can stretch as far as Northern Ireland. If you’re looking to tick more off your list, check out our bucket list blog on the best mountain hikes in the UK.
Visit Nevis Range Snowsports
Nevis Range Snowsports offers skiing and snowboarding into the spring. Reaching heights of 1990 metres, it is Scotland’s highest resort, with 20km of north facing slopes. Situated right next to Ben Nevis, Nevis Range possesses stunning views over the Western Highlands and its numerous lochs.
The base of the snowsports area is accessed by the UK’s only Mountain Gondola, which takes visitors from the car park up 2150 feet. Beginner slopes can be found a short distance away from the Snowgoose Restaurant at the Top Station, comprising of a variety of easy green and blue graded runs. There is also an artificial slope that provides skiing opportunities should the natural slopes be unavailable.
As you climb higher up the mountain, you’ll find an extensive network of red and black runs in addition to the resort’s terrain park. The impressive expanse of freeride terrain – the Back Corries – offers steep runs to challenge even the most experienced skiers.
Cycle, Walk or Canoe Accross The Great Glen
Whether you are walking, cycling, kayaking or canoeing, there are a number of ways to explore the Great Glen.
Walk or Cycle
If you are walking or cycling, The Great Glen Way is a 118.5km route across the Highlands, linking Fort William and Inverness. It follows the major natural faultline of the Great Glen which divides Scotland from coast to coast.
The route offers spectacular views, from Neptune’s Staricase and its views of Ben Nevis to stunning views at three major lochs: Loch Lochy, Oich and Ness. Suitable for all experience levels, the first few sections are undemanding – however after the mid-point at Fort Augustus, the route undulates, particularly if you opt for the High Route.
If you are cycling, the route is mostly the same as the walking trail. However it does consist of some road cycling and there are some parts of the Great Glen Way that are walking only, therefore we recommend planning your route in advance.
If you’re looking to get out onto the water, The Great Glen Canoe Trail was launched in 2012 for canoeists and kayakers, and follows the Caledonian Canal and the lochs of the Great Glen. As long sections of the trail run directly alongside the Great Glen Way, visitors can easily combine boat, bike and boot.
The challenging multi-day route features 38 miles of open water on the lochs and 22 miles of man-made canal – this includes 29 locks which must be portaged around. The canal is also shared with boats of all sizes from dinghies to large vessels.
The complexity of the trail makes it more suited to those with open water experience – however organised expeditions are available for novices. Please note, all paddlers are asked to register their trip in advance. If the Great Glen Way is on your list, find out more and plan your route here.
Ride the Jacobite Train
Fans of Harry Potter will be familiar with this iconic steam train that transports young wizards and witches to Hogwarts – but you may not know that you can actually ride it. Unfortunately, it won’t take you to the school of witchcraft and wizardry, but it will treat you to some breathtaking views. During your trip you’ll travel past Loch Morar, Loch Nevis and pass over the Glenfinnan viaduct bridge, which is a great opportunity to snap a photo.
Take a Cruise on Loch Linnhe
A trip to Fort William wouldn’t be complete without a boat trip along the breathtaking Loch Linnhe. As one of the largest bodies of water in the area, it has plenty to offer visitors. The loch is home to a wide array of local wildlife including birds of prey, osprey, seals and if you’re lucky enough to spot them, harbour porpoise. Set off from Fort William Town Pier and spend an afternoon relaxing on the waters. Don’t forget your camera!
Explore Treasures of the Earth Museum
This geology museum offers a wonderful escape from the rain for an afternoon if the weather in Fort William takes a turn for the worst. Situated just outside of town, it’s home to all kinds of natural treasures and hidden gems. As you explore, you’ll get to find out more about the history of the local geography – a great way to spend rest days in between hikes and outdoor activities.
Visit St Andrew’s Church
Another activity for days where you’d prefer a more relaxed amble – take a stroll to the top of Fort William’s high street and you’ll find this historical hidden treasure. The idyllic church is full of beautiful intricate details that make it a must-see for architecture enthusiasts and photographers. The building dates back to the 1800s and is a member of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Be sure to keep an eye out as you explore the town as it’s easy to miss.
Tour Ben Nevis Distillery
Scotland is famous for many things and one of the most iconic is its whisky. There are countless distilleries spread across the country that produce a variety of whisky blends. The Ben Nevis distillery has become a popular spot for whisky enthusiasts from around the world and gives you a chance to see the process from grain to bottle. Even if you’re not a big fan of whisky, the tour is still a fun and interesting experience.
Discovering Fort William with Sea to Summit…
Exploration is at the heart of what we do at Sea to Summit and our products are designed to help campers and explorers get the most out of their adventures. If you’re planning to camp during your visit to Fort William, our premium tents are ultra-lightweight, making them easy to store so you can set up camp anywhere along the trail. Browse our range of storage sacks so you can easily keep everything safe and dry while on the move.
Don’t forget to share your Fort William adventure with us on social media by tagging #seatosummituk in your photos!