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Fort William is located at the foot of Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis. It is also close to many other highlights of the Scottish Highlands, such as the Lochs, other mountains, and the Cairngorns National Park. The scenery of the area will simply amaze you at any time of the year. Navigating the area is made easy by a well-developed road network.
Who to Book With
There are several car rental agencies to choose from in Fort William, including Sixt, a nationally recognised brand. Most operators are located just outside of town on the A82 trunk road, although there are a couple located near the train station. To find the most convenient location, and to secure the best price from a choice of a range of vehicles, you should book online in advance.
Best time to go
Since the mountains around Fort William are skiing destinations, the winter is the time to go for snowfall. For general touring, spring and summer provide the best weather and best driving conditions. Autumn is probably best avoided since the change in season brings high winds and possible falling hazards onto the roads.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up your rental car you must provide the following documents:
- A valid EU driving license or International Driving Permit
- A secondary photo ID alongside your license
- Proof of payment used to make the booking
- A printed confirmation of your booking, or reference number
The centre of Fort William is small enough to be able to walk around, so you may wish to keep your vehicle parked in one place and then continue on foot. There are car parks on High Street and Middle Street. You can also park at An Aird car park, next to the Morrison’s supermarket.
For getting out into the highlands, Fort William could not be better situated. It is located at the head of Loch Linhe, and from Fort William the A82 runs along the eastern shore of the Loch southward. If you follow the A82 north, it goes alongside other Lochs before finally reaching the city of Inverness.
Going east or west is also extremely easy from Fort William. You can follow the A82 for a few miles north until it connects with the A86, which takes you into the Cairngorns. Or, if heading west, take the A830 at Lochybridge.
Fort William was once an extremely popular destination for hunting expeditions of the landed gentry who came south from England, partly due to its advantageous link on the national rail network. Bus travel to Fort William is possible from virtually any major town in the Scottish Highlands and Glasgow, with many other smaller places served along the way.
Fort William is fortunate to be well connected on the British national rail network, with three direct trains running from Glasgow every day. It is also possible to travel to Fort William direct from London, using the Caledonian Sleeper service, which is fondly known as the ‘Deerstalker’. Trains leave Euston Station at 20.00 every day except Saturdays. You can check National Rail Enquiries for timetabling and ticketing details.
Fort William town centre is easy enough to walk around, but if you are staying a little out of town there are a few taxi companies to call. Taxis are reasonably priced for the convenience, although relatively expensive due to fares charged for the distances covered. You can call J & S Cabs (01397 701324) to ask for a quote.
Fort William sits at a useful crossroads in the central highlands of Scotland, meaning that bus travel is mainly used for inter-city travel to other places in Scotland, with towns and villages served along the way. Services are mainly operated by Stagecoach Highlands, although there are a couple of other operators that run through Fort William, including Citylink.
Fort William is in an extremely useful location for exploring the beautiful scenery of the Scottish Highlands. It is on the doorstep of Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest peak. If you head north you encounter the famous Loch Ness and can discover more of the tales of its seldom seen monster. Access to one of Britain’s best kept secrets, the Cairngorns National Park, is extremely easy from Fort William, heading east for just an hour.
Ben Nevis - The tallest mountain in England, with Fort William located at the foot of the mountain. It takes 20 minutes to drive to the car park and visitor centre of ‘The Ben’, although to reach the summit you will have to walk the rest. You can also visit the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre on your way up or down, which provides further information on the nature of the area.
Inverness - One of the greatest touring routes in Britain is between Fort William and Inverness, passing along the way none other than Loch Ness. The journey takes about an hour and a half, and as you travel north from Fort William you can revel in the misty highland scenery as you pass Loch Lochy, Loch Ness, and Urquhart Castle, before reaching Inverness.
The Cairngorms - This is one of the great wilderness reserves of the British Isles, proclaimed a national park in 2003. Access to the park is easy from Fort William, following the A86 main road. It’ll take you about an hour to reach the western perimeter of the Cairngorns from Fort William.