After Glencoe we continued up A82 on our nine-hour bus trip to Skye and stopped at Fort William to look around and have some lunch. Fort William has its beginnings as a garrison for English rulers to store their troops so that they can quash rebellions and control feisty highlanders. Today it’s the largest town in the Highlands (Inverness is larger but is a city) and the center of western highland activities.
Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.
The western entrance to the Caledonian Canal is just north of Fort William at Corpach. Here a system of eight locks called Neptune’s Staircase lifts a boat 60 feet from Loch Linnhe to the canal. At Fort William you will find the intersection of the A82 which continues northwards to Loch Ness and Highway A830, the Road to the Isles, which heads out west to Glenfinnan and Mallaig.
Some people come here to climb nearby Ben Nevis, the largest mountain in Great Britain. Some people just walk into town. The West Highland Way begins in Milngavie just north of Glasgow and ends 96 miles later in Fort William. Some people bring their bikes. There’s a famous downhill mountain bike track just outside town near the Ben Nevis gondola.
There’s a train that runs overnight from London to Fort William and another train, called the West Highland Line that starts in Glasgow and goes all the way to Mallaig, stopping at Fort William. A steam engine train called the Jacobite Express but in the Harry Potter films known as the Hogwarts Express also runs on the West Highland line from Fort William to Mallaig. At Mallaig you can either turn around and go back or board the ferry to Skye. Some people take the steam train one way and the faster train the other way.
After lunch we climbed back in the bus only to be let out again in just a few minutes to see the ruins of Inverlochy Castle. This place is very old — built in the 13th century — and clearly has seen better days. There are placards around that explain some of the history of the place but frankly I thought the trees that surrounded the walls were more interesting than the walls. Here are some photos of both:
There’s another Inverlochy Castle not too far away. This one was built in the 19th century and is now a fancy five-star hotel. I hear you can relax in an elaborate lounge and choose a dram from a large selection of whisky there. Could our guide have taken us to the wrong castle?
Just a couple more postings until we get to Skye — I promise!