Things to do locally...

... just a few minutes' walk or bike ride from the Bothies. Details on these things to see and do are also in our comprehensive TouchStay digital guide (link sent when you book) - download it to your phone or tablet so it's handy whenever you need it

Glenfinnan Monument

OPEN ALL YEAR - check the website for opening times

Right at the head of beautiful Loch Shiel, the 18m Monument was built in 1815 by a descendent of the MacDonalds of Glenaladale. The MacDonalds fought alongside Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 Rising.

The nearby Visitor Centre tells the story of the '45 Rising, and also has a small cafe, shop and toilets.

(Pic: Glenfinnan Monument, by Iain Ferguson alba.photos)

Loch Shiel & Loch Shiel Cruises

NOW CLOSED UNTIL APRIL 2024

MV Sileas is the largest vessel on Loch Shiel, and has a fascinating history. Take one of their cruises (from around one hour right up to a full day up the loch) for the chance to see wildlife including golden eagles, red deer, sea eagles, and the rare black-throated diver (loon).

The skipper and guides are very knowledgeable and super-skilled at spotting wildlife for guests to photograph and enjoy. 

A toilet and small honesty bar are on board, dogs are welcomed and the crew are very child-friendly.

Glenfinnan Station & Glenfinnan Station Museum

MUSEUM NOW CLOSED UNTIL APRIL 2024 

The beautiful and very original Glenfinnan Station is a functioning station, and is a stopping place for the famous Jacobite steam train.

The museum here is small but packed with information about the building of the West Highland Line and the magnificent nearby Viaduct. 

Entry is by donation, and there is a cafe offering breakfasts, lunches, hot/cold drinks and home-made cake in an old 1950s carriage - the Dining Car.

 

Church of St Mary and St Finnan

Built between 1870 and 1872, and funded by the Macdonalds of Glenaladale, this Gothic Catholic church was designed to match the splendour of its beautiful situation, perched on a hillside high above Loch Shiel. The bell, unusually, sits beside the church as there is no belfry.

The church is often left open for visitors to look around and leave a wee donation for its upkeep, and perhaps light a candle. (pic: Iain Ferguson alba.photos)

Glenfinnan Viaduct

At 380m long and with 21 elegant arches, the Glenfinnan Viaduct crosses the River Finnan at a height of 30m and its construction was a wonder of the Victorian age - it is made from poured concrete. 

It was built as part of the West Highland Line between 1897 and 1901 to link the fishing port of Mallaig with Fort William where fish could be sent down to Glasgow for distribution. 

The Viaduct is iconic, it even features on banknotes. but Harry Potter fans will recognise it from the films of the novels.

Jacobite Steam Train

RUNNING AGAIN FROM END MARCH 2024

This steam-hauled service was first introduced in 1984 in an effort to encourage tourism to the area. The Jacobite runs twice a day, from Fort William to Mallaig and return, between April and the end of October. 

It has been called one of the world's most scenic rail journeys and runs alongside lochs, ancient woodland and rugged coastline as well as over the Glenfinnan Viaduct and past a second viaduct at Loch nan Uamh.  

It is probably best-known today by fans of the Harry Potter films, who know it as the 'Hogwarts Express'.

and not so local...

Fort William is our nearest town and 'The Outdoor Capital of the UK', most famously home to Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain. But it is also home to the mighty flight of canal locks called 'Neptune's staircase', a distillery, a cinema and the Highland Soap factory...

Fort William

An Gearasdan - 'the fort' in Gaelic - is a busy town 15 miles from the Bothies with a lovely High Street and supermarkets. There are lots of independent shops, a swimming pool, library, The Highland Cinema, the West Highland Museum, Ben Nevis Distillery, The Three Wise Monkeys indoor climbing centre, bowling and soft play at The Nevis Centre, and takeaways.

Just on the outskirts of town, at Banavie, is Neptune's Staircase, a flight of 8 locks on the Caledonian Canal (accessible by train or bus, car park adjacent).

Sports fans can watch shinty, football and rugby played by local teams.

(Pic: Ben Nevis Distillery, with Ben Nevis in the background, by Iain Ferguson alba.photos)

The 'Road to the Isles'

Glenfinnan is on the beautiful A830, the 'Road to the Isles', a stunning route from Fort William to Mallaig, which hugs lochs and coast along the way. 

There are beautiful white sand beaches en route, and the villages of Arisaig and Morar to explore, which both have train stations and are on the bus route too.

Mallaig is a busy harbour town, with cafes, pubs, restaurants, a bakery and small shops. There are some lovely small walks around the town. 

You can also take the 'big' ferry from here to the Isle of Skye, and it is the terminus of the Jacobite steam train - which means it can be extremely busy, at times, between April and the end of October.

 

Over the sea to Skye

The Isle of Skye is easily accessible from BTBs by ferry from Mallaig (train, bus or 40 min drive), or we are not far from the A82 north if you want to take the Skye bridge. 

Or maybe you want to make memories by sailing over the sea to Skye on the last-ever wee turntable ferry in the world (pictured) at Glenelg (foot/bike passengers, cars and small vans only). Our favourite way to get to the Misty Isle. 

An unmissable experience, plus great coffee and cakes to take away from the Shore Station cafe (on the Glenelg side).

North of Fort William

  • Nevis Range - ski/snowboard and mountain bike trails centre, open all year round. Home to world class mountain biking events
  • Commando Memorial - stunning views from this impressive statue of 3 commandos looking out over their training ground
  • Fort Augustus and Loch Ness - lovely town at the southern end of Loch Ness, with loch cruises available
  • Urquhart Castle - the picturesque ruins of the only castle on Loch Ness
  • Inverness - a great day out and gateway to the northern Highlands

(pic: UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Nevis Range, Iain Ferguson alba.photos)

South of Fort William

  • Corran Ferry - short crossing to the Ardgour peninsula
  • Vertical Descents - canyoning, white water rafting, gorge walking, kayaking and a thrilling Via Ferrata
  • Loch Leven Seafood Cafe - locally caught seafood restaurant and deli
  • Glencoe Folk Museum and village - this fascinating museum is in traditionally-built, heather-thatched cottages in the middle of the village
  • Glencoe and NTS Glencoe Visitor Centre - beautiful walks in this world-famous glen, with the landscape and geology interpreted at the NTS Glencoe Visitor Centre. (pic: Glencoe Lochan, Glencoe, by Iain Ferguson alba.photos)

Oban

A great day out, Oban is know as the 'Gateway to the Isles'

  • Ferries to islands including Mull, Islay, Colonsay, Tiree, Lismore, Coll, and Barra
  • Fantastic seafood at the harbour, plus cafes and restaurants throughout the town
  • Day trips to see Fingal's Cave on the island of Staffa
  • The stiff climb up Battery Hill to McCaig's Tower gives you great views of the town and out to the nearby island of Kerrera
  • Delicious hand-made chocolates from the Oban Chocolate Company
  • Take a tour of the distillery, which is right in the centre of town

Want to go exploring nearby?

Ride, run, paddle, hike, swim, forage... team up with these brilliant local activity providers, and let them guide you on great days out in beautiful Lochaber - Outdoor Capital of the UK. 

Low carbon but a high fun factor!

River to Sea Scotland

NOW CLOSED UNTIL APRIL 2024

There’s a reason the West Coast of Scotland is one of the best paddling destinations in the world. 

We have beautiful white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and picturesque islands; all with an abundance of wildlife and set in a landscape of mountains and forests.

River to Sea Scotland offers a great choice of guided paddling journeys, ideally suited to couples, families and groups. 

All trips are exclusive to you and your party (no mixed bookings) and are tailored according to your experience and wishes.  

River to Sea can also deliver rental sit-on kayaks to our guests on the shores of Loch Shiel, 5 mins' walk from the Bothies.

https://rivertoseascotland.co.uk

Wild Roots Guiding

Wild Roots Guiding offers day walks and wild camping journeys led by Anna, a qualified Mountain Leader. They have nature and landscape at their heart, and will reveal the unique and varied stories of Scotland’s Highlands.

The journeys cover a variety of terrain, from low level paths to rugged mountain tops. Whether these are your first steps into the mountains or you are a seasoned hill walker, Wild Roots Guiding has something for you. 

Each journey is carefully curated so you can experience a variety of natural and human history whilst walking in breathtaking settings.

If you have a particular adventure in mind, maybe a hill you always wanted to climb or you are looking to brush up on your navigation skills, then get in touch as we are always happy to tailor something especially for you. 

https://www.wildrootsguiding.scot/

Local food and drink heroes...

Glenfinnan Dining Car

NOW CLOSED UNTIL 15 MARCH 2024

A cafe in a vintage train carriage up at the Station. Open for breakfast, lunch,  coffees, teas, cakes and ice-cream. There is also a terrace with lovely views of the surrounding mountains.

(Open 0830-1700, closed Sundays and Mondays)

Dogs allowed on the terrace (not inside)

Find them on Instagram here

Girls on Hills 

Girls on Hills is the UK’s only guided trail, fell and skyrunning company designed specifically for women.

Based in Glencoe, Girls on Hills courses empower women with the skills and confidence necessary to become more independent in the mountain environment.

We also offer navigation and mountain safety/ hillwalking courses suitable for all abilities. Bespoke guided adventures are available for both men and women.

Girls on Hills is also the official race recce provider for Skyline Scotland.
Our guided running, hiking and navigation courses operate throughout the year.
Join us for your mountain experience.

https://www.girlsonhills.com

Glenfinnan House Hotel

NOW CLOSED UNTIL 1st MAY 2024

Right beside Loch Shiel, with views of the Monument and mountains, this traditional country house hotel welcomes visitors to feats on locally-sourced food in its bar or restaurant. 

There are daily specials, and vegetarian and vegan options. Home-made venison sausages and burgers are a must for meat-eaters.

(Pic: Glenfinnan House Hotel and the Monument, by Iain Ferguson alba.photos)

The Chippy Trailer

The Dining Car also does Fish and Chip Fridays from their horse trailer, beside the Dining Car. 

Fortnightly, starting 15th March, on Fridays only, usually from 1730-2000. Check/message their Instagram page here

Absolutely delicious, made by Duncan the Dining Car chef and the team. Don't miss the home-made tartar sauce. 

Haggis, black pudding, chicken and plant-based chicken also available.

Book your pick up slot - message their Instagram page here

Coasteering Fun

Swimming, jumping, climbing... Coasteering Fun with Zeemon and Andy has it all. Whether you are a beginner adventurer or a seasoned adrenaline junkie, there's something for everyone and all challenges are optional.

All adventurers are welcome, aged 10 and up!

If a jump or challenge is not for you it doesn’t matter, we’ll just move on to the next one. They always build up slowly to make sure everyone has a great time!

Couples, groups or families will love these session full of fun, laughs, thrills and splashes.

Sessions last 2.5 hours and all the equipment you need it included in the price. All you need to do is have a great time!

Coasteering is a brilliant individual challenge but also encourages teamwork and looking out for each other. 

The wetsuits are super warm and cosy, so even on the most Scottish of days your whole family will have a great time.

Children must be accompanied by adults for insurance reasons.

https://coasteering.fun

 

The Prince's House

NOW CLOSED UNTIL 15TH MARCH 2024

 former coaching inn dating to the 17th Century, the Princes House still has a very warm welcome for weary travellers, serving meals from locally-sourced ingredients in its Stage House Bar & Bistro or restaurant. 

This small but very friendly hotel offers fine dining as well as bar meals, and there is an amazing seasonal tasting menu for a real treat. 

Glenfinnan Gold craft ale

Originally brewed by a Glenfinnan neighbour, this local beer is now brewed and sold just up the road north from Fort William  (A82) near to Spean Bridge (where the Commando memorial is).

It's a 4.2% ABV light gold single malt beer - made with Scottish single origin malt - and comes in a 500ml bottle.  

You can order Glenfinnan Gold when you book and we will pop it in your fridge ready for your arrival.

Slainte!

Wildwood Bushcraft

NOW CLOSED UNTIL APRIL 2024

Wildwood Bushcraft is based just down the road in Lochailort, and offers exciting outdoor adventures led by Leon, an ecologist/bushcraft teacher who studied otters for his PhD.

He takes small groups and families out on foot or by canoe, to explore the beautiful, sheltered sea-loch surrounded by mountains and ancient woodland.

Visit remote sandy beaches, small islands and rocky peninsulas, learning about plants and trees, foraging, the tides, seaweeds, shellfish and wildlife. Cook a wild lunch on the campfire! Learn to survive in harmony with nature with Wildwood Bushcraft.

https://www.wildwoodbushcraft.com

The Wildcat Cafe

Fort William's only vegan cafe, with meals, cakes and just the best coffee from Glasgow's Dear Green.

Sit in or takeaway, whether its a delicious vegan breakfast, brunch or lunch, or simply cake and coffee.

Fantastic food right on Fort William's High Street with an environmental and social conscience, plus fab customer service - a must-visit.

Ardshealach Smokehouse

This award-winning, artisan smokery is in Glenuig Bay, next door to the friendly Glenuig Inn, and specialises in small, handcrafted batches of smoked fish, smoked meats, and smoked cheeses. 

The Smokery Shop is open from early April each year, and there is an online shop so you can order more goodies for yourself or friends and family when you're back home.

Ardshealach - which is run by a family from Glenfinnan - specialises in producing Scottish smoked salmon from small, sustainable salmon farms along the west coast and the Outer Hebrides. 

There are no antibiotics, growth promoters or anti-foulants used on these farms, keeping the salmon as naturally healthy as possible.

Glen Spean Outdoor Producers' Market

Open from 1000-1300 every second Saturday of the month, easy to find on the A82 between Fort William and Spean Bridge

The Market started out in the courtyard of the Glen Spean Brewery, close to Spean Bridge. It has kept its name but has moved to a larger site - the Auction Mart (auction buildings) just off the A82 on the way up to the Nevis Range ski and mountain bike centre.

Local products on sale can include jams, pottery, candles, beef and pork, jams, beer, baking, flowers, charcuterie and cards - all produced locally in Lochaber. If the weather's good, it's outside, but it moves inside during bad weather. 

https://www.glenspeanmarket.org/

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©Pics by Iain Ferguson at https://albaphotos.smugmug.com/

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