Lochaber stretches from the wild moors of Blackmount and Rannoch to the south, to the white sands of Morar and the Road to the Isles to the north, from Britain’s westerly mainland tip at Ardnamurchan to the dramatic faultline of the Great Glen to the east. It is possibly the UK’s finest outdoor landscape, flanked along its western coast by sea lochs and some of Scotland’s most historic and scenic castles.
It’s main town, Fort William – The Outdoor Capital of the UK – is rapidly growing. An industrial past – the village of Kinlochleven was the base for the world’s first aluminium smelter and Fort William’s smelter still produces high grade metal – has largely given over to the tourism industry and hundreds of thousands of visitors come to enjoy the area – the UK’s highest mountain – Ben Nevis, its deepest loch – Loch Morar, the ski slopes, mountain bike trails and gondola cable cars of Nevis Range….
The main towns and villages of the area are:-
Nether Lochaber, Glencoe and Kinlochleven
From the Corran narrows (some 10 miles south of Fort William), which provide access by ferry to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, the village of Onich stretches out along the shores of the picturesque Loch Linnhe. Over the Ballachulish Bridge – where Loch Linnhe becomes Loch Leven – and nestled against a spectacular mountainous backdrop are the villages of Ballachulish and Glencoe; while the ‘high road’ from Glencoe and the ‘low road’ from Onich lead to Kinlochleven. All villages have shops, hotels, churches and primary schools, with a High School in Kinlochleven.
Situated on the shores of Loch Linnhe with the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, and the world famous Glen Nevis as its backdrop, is the main town of Fort William. The main villages in the Fort William catchment area are Upper Achintore which enjoys an elevated position overlooking the town and Loch; the tree-lined village of Inverlochy; Claggan, at the entranceway to the Glen; the large residential village of Caol and across the Caledonian Canal to the industrial village of Corpach and Banavie, spread out along the banks of the Canal and featuring the impressive ‘Neptune’s Staircase’ of locks.
Ardnamurchan and Morvern
Forming the most westerly parts of mainland Britain are the Ardnamurchan and Morvern Peninsulas where, for the majority, single track roads connect rural communities in spectacular settings. From the village of Ardgour – the gateway to Ardnamurchan – various townships are scattered far and wide across the Peninsula. The main village of Strontian with its New Community High School; Lochaline with its ferry link to Tobermory; Salen nestled around its picturesque bay; Glenborrodale with its imposing castle; the crofting community of Acharacle; Glenuig with its golden beaches; and Kilchoan which boasts Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly part of the British mainland.
The Road to the Isles and Skye
Following the route of the Hogwart’s Express (of Harry Potter fame), the Road to the Isles traverses west through the villages of Glenfinnan with its famous monument and viaduct; Lochailort, on the edge of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula; Arisaig and Morar with their beautiful sandy beaches and views to the Inner Isles of Eigg, Rum and Muck; to the harbour town of Mallaig which offers a wide range of amenities and gives access, by ferry, to the Inner Isles and Skye.
Spean Bridge and The Great Glen
From the villages of Spean Bridge and Roy Bridge (with their rail links to London) to the east of the Caledonian Canal and the small settlement at Gairlochy by the Canal locks, the Great Glen gently winds its way through areas of rugged natural beauty dominated by the Canal and the freshwater lochs of Loch Lochy and Loch Oich. The main villages en-route are South Laggan on the banks of Loch Oich; Invergarry where the River Garry descends into Loch Oich and at the junction of two major roads giving access to Skye and the Highlands; and on to the bustling canalside village of Fort Augustus, dominated by its Abbey, and sitting on the banks of the mysterious Loch Ness.