Steall Bridge, near Fort William

Three of the best views near Fort William, Lochaber

As regular readers may know I’m a sucker for mountain scenery. With a spare day in Fort William after our trip to Eigg I was keen to see what the proclaimed outdoor capital of the UK had to offer. Whilst the town isn’t particularly scenic there are plenty of great views just a short drive away. Here are my top three suggestions:

1. Steall waterfall

The walk to Steall waterfall is billed as one of the best short walks in Scotland. The drive in along Glen Nevis is impressive, with mountain views all the way to the car park at the end of the single track road. The midges greeted us when we stepped out of the car and were less welcome. Fortunately a few squirts of Smidge repellent soon stopped them.

Walk to Steall waterfall
Walk to Steall waterfall

As we left the car park I was a little disconcerted to see a sign warning visitors of ‘Danger of death’. If you’re properly equipped for the weather and familiar with walking in rocky landscapes you’ll have no problems at all. That said, I’d think twice about walking the path during icy conditions.

The path leads walkers through lush woodland, up and down rocky steps. Down in the gorge you can hear, and at times see, the river. Keep your eyes on the path though!

Walk to Steall waterfall
Walk to Steall waterfall

The track was busy; some visitors looked better prepared than others. Going by the number of camper vans and foreign plate vehicles in the car park I’m guessing this walk appears in most tourist guidebooks.

Steall Bridge, near Fort William
Steall Bridge, near Fort William

At the top of the gorge the view opens up across a meadow and out towards Steall Falls. Before you reach the waterfall there is one further diversion; the famous wire bridge across the river. There’s no need to cross it to see the falls but my other half wasn’t going to pass up a chance to do so. The kids were eager too but I only let them walk across as far as the start of the river section. My daughter would have been fine but my son wasn’t tall enough to reach both of the wires. And I didn’t fancy a dip in the river to rescue him!

Steall waterfall, Fort William
Steall waterfall, Fort William

Dropping from a height of almost 400ft Steall waterfall is an impressive sight. We visited after a relatively dry period so I’d imagine it’s even more exciting after rain. From the waterfall I also took the valley picture below, almost a classic geography textbook photograph.

View along valley from Steall waterfall
View along valley from Steall waterfall

Heading back to the car park I wondered why my son and other half took so long to reach the car. It turns out they were clearing up rubbish left by campers. I really don’t understand why people believe it is OK to leave bags of rubbish and used portable barbecues behind.

2. Viewpoints via the Glen Nevis gondola

In the afternoon we drove out to Glen Nevis for a ride up the Nevis Range gondola system. During the winter this is a popular ski destination but in the summer it’s busy with tourists, walkers and mountain bikers.

Nevis Range gondola, Fort William
Nevis Range gondola, Fort William

The gondola takes about 10 minutes to transport visitors 650m up Aonach Mor. As you’re swaying gently above the treetops you can watch mountain bikers whizzing down the boardwalk tracks beneath you. Whilst it looked fun I know I’d have been squeezing my brakes hard for the entire route!

Nevis Range gondola station
Nevis Range gondola station

At the top are two signposted walks to viewpoints, each in different directions. They’re relatively short (20-30 minutes each way) so it’s easy to complete both. Follow the blue rope and you won’t get lost!

Sgurr Finnisg-aig viewpoint walk, Aonach Mor
Sgurr Finnisg-aig viewpoint walk, Aonach Mor

My favourite viewpoint was Meall Beag. We sat for a while on the chair, looking out over Loch Eil and Loch Linnhe. Although I felt a little guilty for enjoying such great views with so little effort.

View no 2: Meall beag viewpoint
Meall beag viewpoint

Walking back towards the gondola it’s hard to ignore the visual impact it has on the area. It’s primarily a functional ski area and I’m sure looks much better when everything is covered in snow. On the plus side there’s a restaurant, bar and toilets and it would have been amiss of us not to check out these facilities.

Snowgoose Bar, Glen Nevis gondola station - a cafe with a view!
Snowgoose Bar, Glen Nevis gondola station – a cafe with a view!

3. Ben Nevis Inn

This last suggestion requires minimal effort. Unless, like us, you decide to walk to the pub from town.

I’ve climbed Ben Nevis in summer when the summit was knee deep in snow and the views obscured by mist. This time we contented ourselves with a seat in the Ben Nevis Inn. There are not many pubs where you can look out the window and see a view as incredible as this!

View from the Ben Nevis Inn, near Fort William
View from the Ben Nevis Inn, near Fort William

The Ben Nevis Inn certainly deserves its number 1 Trip Advisor rating. Between us we ate some great food although I made the wrong food choice; I know now that I don’t like vegetarian haggis!

If you’re thinking of travelling to Fort William you can read more about our journey on the Caledonian Sleeper train. After visiting Fort William you might like a trip to the fabulous white sand beaches at Morar and Arisaig or a drive through the highlands to Gairloch.

More info:

  • The Steall waterfall walk directions are on the Walk Highlands website.
  • The Nevis Range gondola is open year round except for a maintenance period from mid-November to mid-December and during strong winds.
  • The Ben Nevis Inn is open daily during the summer months but check the website for opening dates and times throughout the winter period.

26 thoughts on “Three of the best views near Fort William, Lochaber”

  1. I love this area of Scotland! I passed by car while driving towards Inverness, but didn’t have the time to explore the nearby area! This waterfall looks beautiful!

  2. Hi again! I get immediately drawn to your posts! do you live in Scotland or just like to go there? Also how can I follow you? blog lovin doesnt seem to ever alert me to any new posts like wordpress does.

    1. Hi Lisa, glad you like them! I live way down south in Oxfordshire so rely on holidays for my Scottish fix! I thought you’d be able to follow me via Bloglovin. I follow myself, sad I know 🙂 I use the iPhone app which updates automatically when new posts are added but I don’t have any alerts (I switch them all off for everything).

  3. This brought back memories! We had a great trip to Scotland last summer, we visited Steall waterfall and climbed Ben Nevis-the views are good at the bottom but incredible at the top. Can’t wait to go back one day 🙂 #MondayEscapes

  4. I’m not sure I’d want to go on that bridge! Scary. Amazing views everywhere – and I’m loving the geographical features

    1. The signs made me nervous too but I think they were to make casual tourists think twice about the walk. It’s much easier than some other walks in Scotland.

  5. What a beautiful view from all three spots, Scotland is so full of spectacular places to walk. Steall Waterfall looks like a magnificent sight to behold and I bet in real life it’s really breathtaking. The bridge to get across the river doesn’t look too great though, I’m sure my boys would be on it in a heart beat though. I’m sure going up the Glen Nevis Gondola is amazing but I can definitely see your point that in the winter it would be spectacular. Thanks for linking up with me on Country Kids.

    1. Having seen the adventures your kids get up to on the blog I agree they’d definitely be crossing back and forth on the bridge (and maybe jumping in!)

  6. That is indeed very stunning scenery. Alas I haven’t been that far north in Scotland f some time although my (Scots) wife and I kep saying we must do it. #CountryKids

  7. Steall waterfall looks stunning and I love the look of that wire bridge although not sure I would be brave enough to try crossing it! We’ve had a few trips around Scotland although have yet to visit Fort William – will have to add it to the list for next time. Those views from the Ben Nevis Inn are beautiful 🙂

    1. The Ben Nevis Inn was great although I felt a fraud as I think everyone else in there had spent the day on Ben Nevis.

  8. What a stunning place!! I would never make it to the other side of the wire bridge hahaha
    Funny, I’m reading that book “Outlander” and I would love to visit Fort William 😀

    Beautiful post!!
    Thank you for linking up with #MondayEscapes 😀

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