We spent three nights in Fort William to experience the beauty of the Highlands and could have easily spent a few more days here. The views change as you drive every few miles through this diverse countryside, a car is a must to really get the most of this area. There is lots to do here especially for the outdoor enthusiast but shopping, dining and lots of other activities are also available.
The town of Fort William lays close to the base of Ben Nevis which is the main attraction for many visitors here. It is the highest mountain in the British Isles, often called simply ‘The Ben’ and it sees more than 125,000 visitors annually that come to hike the mountain. We did a short walk around the base of the mountain but I would love to come back and make a day of climbing it on another visit. They say to schedule about 8 hours for a return trip, the hike has a higher degree of difficulty but you could certainly make shorter, easier hikes of it. There is a visitor center at the base to help plan and navigate your hike. Make sure you have proper gear, plan ahead and be aware of changing weather conditions. It has claimed lives and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here is a link.
The next day we spent riding the Jacobite Train (made famous in the Harry Potter movies) from Fort Williams out to the west coast at Mallaig where the ferry will take you across to the Isle of Skye. Originally we were going to go one way and then continue on to Skye but October sees many things shutting down for the winter including public transportation on Skye. Instead we rented a car in Perth for a drive up to the Isle of Skye and went with the return train trip. Unfortunately we had a very rainy, cold day. The windows were all steamed up and it was dark and dreary outside. It did however add to the ambiance of the experience, ‘we could feel the death eaters’ surrounding the train and we enjoyed it none the less. If you don’t care about riding ‘The Harry Potter’ steam train and would like to save some money you can ride the rails on the same route with Scotrail’s regular trains. We just rode on regular seats but you can upgrade to posher cars with plush seats or even private cars with china, posh decor and champagne service. The end point was Mallaig with enough time for lunch and a quick tour of the town. It’s a sleepy fishing village and ferry port with not much to do but good for a quick visit.
The next day we headed up a scenic route from Fort William to Invergarry and across to Kyle of Lochlash, over the bridge and onto the Isle of Skye. Along the way we stopped at the Eilean Donan Castle, which is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland. It’s privately owned and worth a stop to view the furnished, grand banquet room and interesting history of the castle. The days drive was spectacular and thoroughly enjoyable ending as we settled in to an unforgettable stay on Skye. Here is a link to the photos and a video below.