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Fort William Travel Guide - Scotland

Fort William, nowadays important both as a railhead and tourist attraction, the town was developed from the mid 17th century, although Inverlochy Castle to the north is much older. The settlement was briefly known as Maryburgh (after William III's queen) before receiving its present name as one of the chains of forts put up to help quell the rebellious Highlanders (Fort Augustus and Fort George were others).

The stronghold at Fort William successfully repelled Jacobite forces both in 1715 and 1745. The fort itself was demolished in the late 19th century to make way for the railway, which led to the expansion of the town and its environs. Fort William is busy all year round with walkers and climbers, due largely to its position at the foot of Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis (1344m). The main path up the mountain starts at Achintee, and was built 100 years ago to serve the observatory that topped the summit for 20 years and provided a highly detailed weather record still used by meteorologists. Fort William is also the northern terminus of the West Highland Way footpath, which starts its long journey of 87miles (140km) just north of Glasgow.

The town's attractions include the West Highland Museum with a large number of Jacobite relics including a secret portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and one of the old paneled rooms from the fort has been rebuilt here. In the main street there is an exhibition devoted to Ben Nevis. One unique fact about Fort William is that it was the first town in Britain to be lit by electricity generated by its own water power scheme.


Fort William looking to Ben Nevis
Fort William