There are a range of family things to do in Fort William and the surrounding area. Lochaber Cottage has a private, enclosed garden and is supplied with various toys and games, making it ideal for a family holiday in the Highlands.
Family walks in Lochaber
The extensive range of walks in the area means there are suitable routes for children of all ages.
The nearby Achaderry Estate has a route short enough for small children around a loch. Children will enjoy looking out for the interesting wooden carvings en route.
Starting from the Commando Memorial in Spean Bridge a circular walk through woodland takes in views of the ruined High Bridge, where the first shots of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion were fired.
Bigger children will enjoy the gorge walk at the top of Glen Nevis, with its dramatic scenery. It’s no surprise that Glen Nevis was chosen for films such as Highlander, Rob Roy and Braveheart. This is an easy walk, but very rewarding, with a beautiful meadow and Scotland’s third highest waterfall at the top.
Family cycling routes in Lochaber
The path alongside the Caledonian Canal provides a flat, level surface which small children will appreciate. Start from the top of Neptune’s Staircase. The series of 8 canal locks is a bonus in itself. You can also hire a small boat to explore the canal for an hour or two.
Kids who can cycle for some miles will appreciate starting further up the canal at Gairlochy, then setting off along the scenic canal path towards Fort William. From Gairlochy you can take a short detour the other way to visit the small lighthouse at the southern end of Loch Lochy.
Starting from near the train station in Spean Bridge, a network of trails through the Killiechonate Woodlands provides a range of options for older children.
Activities towards Newtonmore and Kingussie
The Highland Wildlife Park features polar bears, tigers, wolves and a host of other animals. Highlights include a drive-around area and a timetable of animal feeding, land-rover safari and other activities.
Nearby the Highland Folk Museum puts the spotlight on the human inhabitants of the area. Its interactive, award-winning portrayal of the living and working lives of earlier Highland people extends over 80 acres and is free.
The Newtonmore Riding Centre offers pony rides for kids of all abilities and from the smallest ages. Instruction at the centre can be included before the ride.
Jacobite Steam Train
Running from May to October the Jacobite Steam Train travels from Fort William to Mallaig. The route, now marketed as “The Harry Potter Line”, travels through stunning Highland scenery and over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Boat trips near Fort William
Crannog cruises offer several scenic trips down Loch Linhe from Fort William every day. There is of course also the option of dinner at their seafood restaurant on the pier.
Loch Shiel Cruises offer an “Eagle-Watch” trip on the loch, starting from Glenfinnan. Combining the boat trip with travel by train and a visit to the Glenfinnan Monument makes for an excellent family day out.
For the more adventurous Arisaig Cruises offer wildlife-watching trips on the open sea, and trips to the “Small Isles” of Rum, Eigg and Muck.
The Caledonian MacBrayne ferry company offers a menu of day trips, including to Skye and the Small Isles from Fort William/Mallaig.
Beaches around Lochaber
Easily the best beach in the area is the expanse of white sand at Morar. Signposted from the A830 the beach is also a short walk from Morar train station and so can be combined with a train journey for an excellent day out.
Indoor activities in Fort William
While Lochaber is rightly renowned for outdoor pursuits there are back-up options for rainy days.
Lochaber Leisure Centre in Fort William features a fine swimming pool, gym and sauna.
Nearby the Nevis Centre has ten-pin bowling, soft play and a busy events calendar.
Treasures of the Earth, on the A830 just outside Fort William, boasts “Europe’s finest private collection of crystals, gemstones and fossils”.