The No Fuss guide to Fort William and the Outdoor Capital of the UK
You’ve scaled the peaks of the Ben, and swam more lengths of Loch Linnhe than you’ve had hot dinners. Endurance events can call for a different calibre of athlete and an unrivalled setting to host them. As the Outdoor Capital of the UK, Fort William and Lochaber attracts more than its fair share of endurance junkies year in, year out. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
Off the bike, we’ve got just as many hidden pubs and eateries as we do berms and boardwalks. For the first in a series of articles, here’s how to ensure your visit to the Outdoor Capital is every bit as eventful as the event itself.
Eating and drinking in Fort William
These days every second meal finds itself on Instagram or Facebook. But, aesthetically speaking, nothing tops eating dinner by the foot of Britain’s highest mountain. The Ben Nevis Inn & Bunkhouse offers diners unbeatable views, juicy steaks, and a selection of fine ales to wash it all down. Don’t fancy braving the Highland winds and pitching up a tent? Enjoy a night here and wake up fresh faced for your race the following morning.
For a traditional Highland getaway, visit the coastal Glenuig Inn. Just over 30 miles from Fort William, you’ll be treated to astounding Atlantic views and first class hospitality. It’s notoriously dog-friendly, so all you canine lovers can rest easy.
Few things beat the atmosphere of a cosy Fort William pub. Located on the High Street, The Grog & Gruel combines real ales, hearty food, and, as you’d expect, traditional Scottish malts for a post-race dram. No trip here is complete without tasting some breaded haddock and Hog’s tails - Grog & Gruel’s trademark spicy curly fries.
Got a few hours to kill during the day? The Moorings Hotel café serves up a mouth-watering selection of hearty soups and freshly made sandwiches. If that doesn’t float your boat, then there’s always a toasted panini or baked potato. What better way to fuel up for a mid-afternoon race? Make sure you save some room for cakes or scones baked by Cathie-Ann – you’ll be running back to the Moorings in next to no time!
When a restaurant's been going strong for over 26 years, you know they must be doing something right. The Crannog combines great Scottish sea food with a unique location in the heart of the town. As if that wasn’t enough, their red roofs have become somewhat of a local landmark, whereas the view inside is to die for.
After an exhausting day (or night) putting the pedal to the metal for hours on end, you might want to kick back and save your energy for the journey home. Yet when you’ve got the trails surrounding The Great Glen and Loch Arkaig on your doorstep, it’s worth filing for an extra day off for that reason alone. Take a morning to explore the Wild Lochaber Trails - pack a flask to enjoy one of the most picturesque morning coffees you’ll ever have.
For your historical fix, take a drive out of the centre to the Glenfinnan Monument by the head of Loch Shiel. Built in 1815, the monument also looks out over one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks, the Glenfinnan Viaduct - Harry Potter fans amongst you will recognise it from the film franchise. But forget Hogwarts, here you’ll get the chance for some great photos and the chance to learn about the history of the country.
Indoor activities in Fort William
Fort William isn’t just lochs, pubs and single-track. Think you know your scotch from your single malts? Take a tour of the Ben Nevis Whisky Distillery, and see how they turn pure Highland water into the drink which many associate with Scotland. Whilst you’re there, stop by the gift shop for a memento of your visit - or a bottle or two to take the taste of the region back home.
February’s when it all starts to kick off here at No Fuss. Starting with the Runduro Saturday the 18th of February, we’re all set to make 2017 one of our most exciting years yet. With our travel guide to Fort William, make the most of your time here on and off the track.
By Max Meres