Visiting Scotland in Winter gives you the opportunity to see nature change its colours and to experience the landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, the Caledonian pine forests and the white sandy beaches in a completely different light. Winter in Fort William is a magical time of year. Our forested glens are changing colour, then when the temperature drops and the mountains are covered in snow, the scenery is simply stunning. The weather here can be superb, with bright frosty mornings and awesome winter sunsets.
Skiing and Snow Boarding
One of the most popular winter pastimes in Fort William is a trip to go skiing or snowboarding at the Nevis Range just outside of the town. The range boasts an extensive network of graded runs and the off-piste expanse of the Back Corries all under the shadow of Ben Nevis. If hitting the slope on skis is not for you, the Nevis Range also offers other fun winter activities including sledging, snowshoeing and even snow biking. Alternatively, Glencoe Mountain Resort, Scotland's oldest resort can be reached in under an hour by car from Fort William. Both resorts provide lessons and equipment hire, so even complete beginners can enjoy the slopes.
If you want to spot the Scottish big five (golden eagle, red deer, red squirrel, common seal and European otter), Fort William and the surrounding area is one of the few places in Scotland that offers the possibility of seeing all five in one day. There is a brilliant spot that has been set up especially for watching red squirrels just next to the car park at Glen Rig, a wee hidden wildlife gem worth visiting!
Being situated in the Outdoor Capital of the UK, it is not surprising that the walking possibilities around Fort William are only limited by your imagination. Although winter hill-walking requires some experience and equipment, there are plenty of low level walks that will reward you with stunning snowy mountain vistas and walking around Fort William you are never far from a great view of Ben Nevis towering over the town. My personal favourite winter walk is through Glen Nevis to Steall Falls. The Outdoor Capital website also has a selection of recommended walks for different abilities and if that's not enough the nearby Nevis Range has 25 miles of forest trails to explore.
Old Inverlochy Castle was one of the most important castles in Scottish history. Originally dating back to the 13th century, it was abandoned in 1654 and replaced by a nearby large timber fort which was built to replace the original stone fort named “Fort William” after King William III.
The castle was the backdrop to the first and second battles of Inverlochy. Visiting off-season increases the chances of having the castle all to yourself and the winter weather just makes it feel all the more atmospheric!
Located at the Nevis Range, the mountain gondola is the only one of its kind in the UK. Anyone can buy a ticket to enjoy the scenic ride which takes you 2150 ft up the north face of Aonach Mor, the eighth highest mountain in Britain! Unless you are an experienced winter walker, we don't recommend venturing too far from the Snowgoose Restaurant at the top. Instead enjoy some coffee and cake while enjoying the views across the surrounding mountains and beyond before the leisurely gondola trip back down.
Movie Site Seeing
If you're a film fan then you can have lots of fun looking for some of the recognisable locations used in blockbusters such as Harry Potter, Skyfall and Braveheart! If you fancy doing your own movie tour of the area, here are some of the places you should have on your list that are all within easy reach of Fort William;
- Glen Nevis - featured in Braveheart, Harry Potter, Rob Roy, Highlander, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Lonely Place to Die, Quest for Fire
- Glen Coe - featured in Braveheart, Skyfall, Harry Potter, Rob Roy, Highlander, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, A Lonely Place to Die, The Eagle, Centurion, Quest for Fire, The 39 Steps, Made of Honour
- Glen Etive - featured in Skyfall
- Glen Finnan Viaduct - featured in Harry Potter
- Loch Shiel - featured in Harry Potter, Highlander
Fort William lies at the southern end of the Caledonian Canal, a 60 mile long route running through the Great Glen to Inverness, it connects four lochs with man-made waterways. Th canal was constructed in 1803 to link the west and east coast of Scotland, allowing vessels to avoid the risky journey around Cape Wrath. Following the towpath makes a great walk or cycle and look out for the impressive Neptune's Staircase at Banavie, a flight of eight locks that raise vessels to a height of 70 feet above sea level over a distance of 500 yards.
Book Today to secure your next winter break and enjoy exploring the highlands from a convenient base!