First Impressions of Fort William

Fort William for anyone who doesn’t know, is a small town in the Scottish Highlands very close to Ben Nevis – the tallest mountain in the British Isles at 4,409 ft. I have wanted to see more of the Scottish Highlands for some time now. It seemed wrong to me that I had seen much more of many other countries around the world than I had of my own country, so I decided to take a short trip up north while I was home for a few weeks and experience a little more of what Scotland has to offer. There were 5 things in particular that stood out to me about Fort William while I was here.

Stunning natural beauty

Fort William for me was an ordinary town set in an extra-ordinary background. The town really served it’s purpose well – providing you with all the basic amenities you needed to live, but set surrounded by stunning mountains and scenery. Whether you were out down by the beautiful Glen Nevis, or the breath taking Glen Coe. It really was mind blowing at times how picturesque this place is, and I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to make the short journey up here. The trip was helped even more by the fact the sun came out while I was here. When the sun is shining in Fort William it is a really beautiful place to be.

Fort William Backpackers

Had I not already booked and paid to go to Inverness, I would have stayed in Fort William much longer than the 3 days I was there. This was due in large part to the very cool but homely Fort William Backpackers. This place is actually in contention as my favourite backpacker hostel ever (with only Bam’bu in Perth, Australia, really vying for contention).

Essentially, the Fort William Backpackers was like a big house rather than a hostel. The staff were especially friendly and helpful, there was a really cool cosy atmosphere to the place, it was situated less than 5 minutes walk from the train station, bus station, and centre of town, as well as having stunning views of Fort William and the surrounding scenery from both the lounge, patio, and cool little summer beer/BBQ garden.

Another thing that I particularly liked was that they had a lot of places just to hang out. For instance, if you wanted to chat, play cards, check your email, or drink you’d head to the dinning room opposite the kitchen which was usually filled with people. If you wanted to hang out somewhere quiet however and read a book, the lounge was a really cosy quiet place, which also played soft music from the speakers along the lines of Mumford & Sons on a shuffle play list. There was a cool little porch area too, and a really cool garden for summertime.

I really couldn’t rate this place highly enough, and if it had not been for the fact they didn’t have lockers in the room (every hostel should really have this) they would have easily got 5 stars as far as hostels go. If you are ever travelling the Scottish Highlands and looking for a cool hostel to base yourself in this would be a really good option. It’s also the hostel MacBackpackers use for their tours, and you can see why. I was half tempted to go right back after my time in Inverness and just stay there for a month, but I have places I need to be very shortly. I will definitely come back to this hostel at somepoint though for sure!

Adventure Sports and the Outdoors

They don’t lie when they say Fort William is the outdoor capital of not just Scotland, but the UK. There is so much to do here in terms of adventure sports, and outdoor activities that you could easily live here a month, even though it is such as small town, and not get bored! Whether you want to go quad bike racing, hill walking, whit water rafting, skiing, paint balling, water skiing, mountain biking, clay pigeon shooting, kayaking, gorge walking, or take part in a bit of archery, there is so much to do here in the outdoors. Obviously, some of the outdoor activities mentioned above are dependant upon weather, or the season. So if you want to go skiing then you’ll be looking to go during winter, and with the water sports in particular they need to wait for the warmer weather when it’s less temperamental so they can ensure everyone’s safety, so be sure to check before you come if you do end up round this neck of the woods.

West Highland Way

Fort William is a popular place to either start or finish the West Highland Way to/from Milngavie (near Glasgow). The West Highland Way is 154.5km long (94 miles), and has an element of hill walking in the route. Around 85,000 people use this route every year for the fantastic scenery along the way.

Jacobite Steam Train

If long distance walks is not your thing, but you would still like to take in some of the West Highland scenery, then the Jacobite Steam Train may be more your thing. It runs between the 16th May and 28th October every year, from Fort William to Mallaig.

– For such a small town, Fort William has so much to offer. I was there 3 days, and found that even with packing things into my day I could not even scratch upon the surface of how much there is to see and do there! If you are ever in the country, I would definitely recommend a visit to what is fast becoming my favourite place to be in Scotland.


One Response to “First Impressions of Fort William”

  1. Seems like a dream over there… even that hostel?!


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