Fort William is the largest town in the Scottish Highlands, and second only to the city of Inverness in size. The fort of the name was a wooden citadel built by Oliver Cromwell after his invasion of the area during the English Civil War, and was named after William of Orange. The remains of the fort are just about still visible on the shores of Loch Linnhe. The town that grew up around the fort underwent a series of name changes before finally settling on Fort William as it is now known, although by the time this name was arrived at it was Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, who was instrumental in quelling the Jacobite Rising at Culloden, that the town was named after. Meanwhile, on the banks of the River Lochy, Old Inverlochy Castle, which predated Oliver Cromwell's fort, is open to the public. The castle, although a ruin, has lasted better than Cromwell's fort. The West Highland Museum on the High Street has displays on the history of the area, in particular the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites. St Andrews Church, built of granite with a slate roof, is known as the "Queen Of Highland Churches". This area is closely associated with the Cameron Clan, and monuments in the town include one to Donald Cameron of Lochiel, 24th chief of the clan and one to Captain Peter Cameron, commander of the Earl of Balcarres, of the East India Company. There is also a Cameron Square in the town centre.
Fort William is a major centre for lovers of the great outdoors, as can be seen from the number of outdoor gear shops in the town. The surrounding area offers mountain biking trails, and for walkers Fort William is the end point of the beautiful 95-mile West Highland Way long distance trail. Fort William also lies at one end of Scotland's newest long distance path, the Great Glen Way, the other end being Inverness, making it Scotland's very own coast-to-coast walk. The nearby Glen Nevis Visitor Centre has information for anyone brave enough to tackle the climb up Ben Nevis. Boat trips are available from March to October. For those more inclined to artistic pursuits, the Lime Tree An Ealdhain Gallery offers exciting art shows as well as providing accommodation.
For a list of events in Fort William and the surrounding area see here.
Map of the area.
Old Fort © 2005 Nathanael, via Wikimedia Commons