EXPECT thrills aplenty at Fort William and the freshest of seafood platters in Scotland’s West Highlands.
The town of Fort William, the “Outdoor Capital of the UK”, sits at the heart of the wild West Highlands.
Kids and big kids alike will love boarding the Jacobite steam train (AKA the Hogwarts Express), then hurtling over that famous viaduct in a plume of steam. Day-return tickets cost £49 for adults and £28 for kids (Westcoastrailways.co.uk).
Potter fans can then head back to Glenfinnan to walk beneath the viaduct and snap their own pics. Or Seafari offers an experience as thrilling as any JK Rowling novel aboard its RIB along Loch Eil – racing the Hogwarts Express as it comes into view, £120 for up to five people (Fortwilliamseatours.co.uk).
Meet Big Ben
People flock from all over to tackle Ben Nevis. The highest point in the British Isles soars to 1,345m and is not for the faint-hearted.
If that’s too big a challenge for you, head to Braveheart car park in search of Dùn Deardail in Glen Nevis. You get the views on this 10km hike, but only have to ascend around 350m.
The pancake-flat Caledonian Canal is ideal for family strolls, while the stretch around Neptune’s Staircase, a famous flight of rising locks, has a view of Ben Nevis as a backdrop.
Get adrenalin kicks
You’re on the doorstep of the world-class mountain playground, Nevis Range. Take on high wires for all ages, from £20 for adults, £10 for kids (Nevisrange.co.uk).
Then hit the mountain-biking trails – the Witch’s Trails range from family-friendly forest saunters through to the mountain bike World Cup and World Championship tracks. Hire bikes from £25 a day (Neviscycles.com).
Or just ease up to Munro height on the Nevis Range mountain gondola cable car for gorgeous views, from £22 for adults, £12.50 for kids.
You can spot seals, porpoises and dolphins in the waters around Fort William, if you’re lucky.
The Clan Cameron Museum at Achnacarry Castle tells the story of those who fought for centuries to regain their land and castle. Entry costs £4 for adults, £3 for kids (Clancameronmuseum.co.uk).
Lighten the mood at Inverlochy Castle, a lovely, fairy-tale-like ruin to ramble around (Historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/inverlochy-castle).
You can learn more about the area’s history at West Highland Museum (Westhighlandmuseum.org.uk).
Try haggis pizza
Treat yourself to a heaving platter of local langoustines, mussels and oysters, from £45, at Crannog, on the pier (Crannog.net). You can also take a sightseeing cruise from here, £47 for a family ticket.
Find proper pizzas at the gorgeous Highland Cinema’s new cafe – including a haggis and whisky-topped creation, from £10 (Highlandcinema.co.uk).
Or cosy up at Ben Nevis Inn, nestled at the foot of the mountain, and tuck into a mighty beef burger and chips, £14.50 (Ben-nevis-inn.co.uk).
Head to World of David Walliams at Alton Towers & enjoy Gangsta Granny ride
Kip by the loch
Tucked right on the shores of Loch Lochy, to the east of town, the Whispering Pine Lodge is a rare treat in Scotland – an affordable hotel with a grand country house vibe.
Its superb Scottish-meets-Indian Lochside Brasserie has a terrace with views, plus there’s a whisky bar and spa. Doubles cost from £139 B&B (Blacksheephotels.com/the-whispering-pine-lodge).
- Photography: Alamy, Frank Fell/Robert Harding, Picfair, Instagram/Crannog