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Fort William, the Outdoor Capital of the UK

26th May 11

Featuring Fort William, the Outdoor Capital of the UK.

This month’s featured destination sees us taking in the spectacular scenery of the Scottish resort of Fort William.

Fort William is aptly named the Outdoor Capital of the UK and is the perfect location from which to explore the magnificent Western Highlands. It is splendidly situated at the southern end of the Great Glen, on the shores of the crystal clear Loch Linnhe. Nestling, beneath towering Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, the bustling market town attracts visitors from across the globe.

The surrounding countryside has some of Britain's most spectacular and romantic scenery and its torrid history has produced over 30 battlefields in the Lochaber area alone. As a touring centre, Fort William is without parallel: Inverness, Oban, Skye, Iona and Speyside all make superb full day excursions and there are also lots of places of interest within a half hour's drive including Glenfinnan and of course breath-taking Glencoe. For the more intrepid, the best of the views can be enjoyed from Britain’s only alpine cable car at nearby Aonoch Mor which rises to an incredible 2000 feet to the Snowgoose Restaurant.

There's plenty to do in Fort William when weather or inclination rule out a day in the hills. The West Highland Museum in the centre of the town is excellent; and a couple of miles  west at Corpach, on the Mallaig road, you can admire Neptune's Staircase of locks on the Caledonian Canal. Also in Corpach is the wonderful collection of crystals, gemstones and fossils at Treasures of the Earth. Back in Fort William, St Andrew's Church, towards the north end of the high street, is well worth a visit.

Many visitors flock to the High Street to check out its great range of shops, and outdoor enthusiasts are especially well catered for by large outlets. Visitors can enjoy a tempting array of eating and drinking experiences, ranging from good fish and chips, to rather more upmarket establishments, including the prize winning Crannog Seafood Restaurant. For many, the highlight will be a visit to the Grog and Gruel, on the High Street. This has a restaurant upstairs, but is still more highly recommended for the traditional pub downstairs serving a wide range of excellent real ales. – Not to mention the Highland’s most famous product, malt whisky, otherwise known in these parts as “Uisge Beatha” or “Water of Life.”

From May to October, visitors to Fort William can enjoy all the delights of the area by train. 2011 is the 28th year of the return of steam trains to nearby Mallaig. In 1984 when British Rail reintroduced steam to the line it was known as ‘The West Highlander’ which later became ‘The Lochaber’. West Coast Railways took over the running of this service in 1995 and it was given the much loved title ‘The Jacobite’.

It is regarded as one of the Great Railway Journeys of the World and was voted Top Railway Journey in the World 2009 and 2010 by Wanderlust Magazine, due mainly to the stunning scenery through which you will be travelling. The 84 mile round trip will take you past Britain's highest mountain, deepest loch, shortest river and most westerly station.

What’s more, this magical steam train is celebrated worldwide as The Hogwarts Express and was used to transport Harry Potter in The Chamber of Secrets. Indeed, the famous Glenfinnan viaduct, pictured here (and seen on a Bank of Scotland £10 note) is known to millions worldwide as the “Harry Potter Bridge.”(Glenfinnan was also used in Charlotte Gray and Highlander.)

With so much to do in Fort William, the perfect visit  calls for the perfect place to rest your head after a full day’s sightseeing and excursions. And there’s simply no better place to stay in Fort William than at the Leisureplex owned Croit Anna Hotel. With spectacular views from the lounge, bars and many of the 92 bedrooms, the Croit Anna is situated just 2 miles from Fort William on the banks of Loch Linnhe. The Croit Anna boasts a team of professional, friendly staff and offers comfortable, quality accommodation at a value for money price. Special discounts are available for groups. For more information or to check availability at the Croit Anna click here.

This Fort William feature has hopefully whetted your appetite and inspired some Highlands wanderlust. If so – that’s more than can be said of Queen Victoria who visited Fort William when househunting in Ardverike. Apparently the royal party was not amused by the heavy rain and therefore went eastwards and bought the Balmoral Estate instead!

With kind regards from the offers team.

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