News, Scottish Views

Highland Ski Area opens on earliest date for 13 years

By Craig Murphy

Following persistent early snowfall skiers and snowboarders will be able to take to the slopes of Nevis Range, Fort William, in the  Outdoor Capital of the UK, this weekend (Saturday 4 and Sunday 5  December), two weeks earlier than scheduled and the ski area’s  earliest season opening for thirteen years.

Snow has been falling on the slopes for almost a month, a good base has built up and the conditions are now looking fantastic.

The resort has been in the process of carrying out its annual  maintenance schedule, which includes working on its gondola system,  ski lifts and tows.  Howeve, by working round the clock the team of  engineers will have all the maintenance completed in time for the opening weekend.

The resort is in the process of expanding its Equipment Hire and building a new café bar restaurant.  Unfortunately the new Equipment  Hire will not be ready for this weekend and customers are advised to  hire equipment before they travel.

Marian Austin, Nevis Range MD commented, ‘We hadn’t planned to open  until Saturday 18 December, but with the recent snowfall the  conditions have been improving steadily, so decided to open early this  weekend.  Thanks must go to our engineering team who have been working  tirelessly so that we will can open early.  This will be the earliest  date we have opened since 1996 when we opened for one day in November.’

She continued, ‘So far our roads have been clear.  We’re lucky, our  car park is just above sea level and once people arrive, the gondola  takes them quickly up the mountain to the ski area.  However customers  are advised to keep watching the websites for the latest snow and  weather conditions.’

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Articles

Neptune’s Staircase

There is something for those who love travelling and being to new places. Have you heard something about the ‘Neptune’s staircase’? If not, then you are missing something worth watching. The spectacular structure was designed by Thomas Telford and completed in 1822.

locks at Banavie

picture via Kildonan Bed and Breakfast

The Neptune’s staircase is built over the Caledonian Canal located at Banavie, near Fort William just north of Loch Linnhe in Scotland. The Caledonian Canal covers a distance of 60 miles over the Great Glen from Corpach near Fort William in the south west to Inverness in the north east. Covering an area of about 500 yards, it is known to be the largest staircase lock in the United Kingdom and it can lift the boats to a height of 64 feet! It comprises of nine locks. Each lock gate weighs about 22 tons. The approximate cost of these locks was estimated to be about $50000. Fishing boats as well as tall ships and pleasure craft can be seen passing through it. It attracts many tourists because of its splendid structure.

It takes about ninety minutes for a boat to pass through them. Basically the boats which take the route between the Atlantic and the North Sea pass through this famous staircase. One of its major advantages is that it provides a safe inland route from Moray Firth to the Forth of Lorne. These locks are operated through hydraulics. This grand chamber consists of lock chambers having a width of about 40 feet. They have a depth of about 20 feet. Although now there is a mechanised system to turn the locks, but previously massive capstans were used in order to operate them which required a lot of hard work. The operators had to do a lot of labour in operating them. At the top most flight of stairs, telescopes are provided for the tourists to enjoy the magnificent view. The final lock is about 203 feet. Made out of natural rocks it leads to Loch Linnhe. Glen Mallie, a beautiful and spell bounding cedar bungalow, is located close to the Neptune’s staircase. In fact there is also a museum located here. Many hotels are located near this structure for the convenience of the tourists. For those who love gemstones and crystals, Treasures of Earth located nearby is a nice place to visit.

Recently, the British Waterways have installed a new lighting system at the Neptune’s staircase. About multi million pounds have been spent over this project. This would not only to is beauty and encourage tourists to visit this beautiful creation but also sure safety of the waterways following this path. Green light illuminates the beautiful structure at night.

Fort William attracts many tourists every year because of its scenic beauty and millions of places to explore. It’s the best place for recreation and to relax. Beautiful glens, forests, beaches, mountains and greenery which are a part of this place are fabulous. Mountain biking is one of the most popular sports here. Fort Williams can be stated as the ‘heaven on the earth’.

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News

Fort William Underwater Centre Recognition

Long held as the gold standard for international diver training, the Underwater Centre in Fort William has recently been recognised.

The British Accreditation Council, which is responsible for oversight on further and higher education in Britain, has accredited the Underwater Centre’s Remotely Operated Vehicles or ROV training programme.

photo by Benvheir

photo by Benvheir

The recent accreditation is considered critical as the Centre seeks to draw students from around the world.  Unfortunately, visa requirement stipulate that students be enrolled in an accredited course, which now means that the Underwater Centre can market to a global audience.

Located on the shores of Loch Linnhe, the Centre has easy access to a sheltered Loch which features depths greater than the North Sea. Thanks to the temperate climate and great location, divers are able to train year-round.

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Fort William Historic Sites See Rise

27

Kindly submitted by Greyhound-taxis

Historic Scotland has just released figures showing that several of Scotland’s historic attractions have had a visitor increase in 2009 as compared with 2008.

Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle were the leaders, with each seeing nearly 7% growth in visitor numbers from a year ago. However, Skara Brae, Iona Abbey and Fort William all saw gains as well.

The combination of the Year of Homecoming and a weak Pound meant that Scotland in the summer of 2009 was an ideal destination for Europeans.

The top 10 attractions for Historic Scotland saw increases across the board and double-digit improvements the norm. This impressive growth cannot be understated, particularly in a dampened economy, where tourist spending was seriously curtailed.

Top 10 List

kindly submitted by Greyhound-Taxis

kindly submitted by Greyhound-Taxis

Edinburgh Castle
Stirling Castle
Urquhart Castle
Glasgow Cathedral
Skara Brae
Iona Abbey
Fort George
Linlithgow Palace
St Andrews Castle
Melrose Abbey

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The Outdoor Captial of the U.K.

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Handymen services

Fort William Handyman services

Searching for handymen near Fort William? Our Lochaber Local directory provides a listing of choices. These include all types of companies to assist with home decor, both interior and exterior, joinery, plumbing, electrical list is endless.   So if you are planning a project and need an all in one solution a handyman is for you.

Handymen! If your business isn’t listed, but does serve the Lochaber Region, or if you would like to get listed here, then please use the ADD ME link for a free listing or contact us for a premium listing with a link to your site, photo and customer testimonial

Kando Construction
Address:   Lower Braeside Fassifern Road, Fort William
Tel:   01397708586 or 07788942406

Kitchens, Bathrooms, New Builds, Kit Houses, Extensions, Renovations, Central Heating, Under Floor Heating, Steel Work, Landscape Gardening, For all your Domestic and Commercial needs! Quality Assured at an Affordable rate. No Fuss No Stress No Mess Just Give Us a Call and Sample the BEST!

no reviews yet

John Weller
Address: 2 Caithness Place, Fort William, PH33 6JP
Tel: 01397708508

called, John was out the next day, estimate very reasonable, would recommend!

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Articles

The Real History of Inverlochy Castle

Many historians have incorrectly portrayed Inverlochy Castle has having been first built in the 13th Century by the Comyns (Cummings). The structure built by the Comyns of Badenoch is nothing more than a refinement of the castle originally constructed in the 8th Century for King Achaius.

ruins of Inverlochy Castle, Fort William

ruins of Inverlochy Castle, Fort William

Achaius is derived from the Latin Eochaidh. The name Eocho or Eochu was anglicised to Eochy, and further developed into Eochaid and Eochaidh. It is also said to be based upon the Greek Achaeans or Achaioi. It is this lineage from which Achaius’ name was founded. Many Scots Gaelic names surround this line, including geographical landmarks and cities, all of whom are prefixed with the word Achna.

The Scottish meaning of Achaius is: horse friend, or friend of a horse. This is said to be a fitting name for King Achaius as his rule was enforced through the use of cavalry, his family reign brought on through the use of armed riders, and their great fondness of horses as witnessed by extensive stables.

King Achaius was the Pictish King of Scots, ruling from 797 through to 819. Although he had several fortified strongholds and castles throughout the Highlands of Scotland, his primary residence was at what is shall be referred to as Early Inverlochy Castle. There is little information regarding the exact date of the construction or demise of this fortress, but many scholars do accept the facts of his rule and the its whereabouts, noting the destruction by Danish invaders.

Inverlochy has strategic significance, as it was accessible by sea, via Loch Linnhe and the River Lochy. The site of Early Inverlochy Castle was ideal, as it was bordered along one side by a river, and the remaining sides by a moat. The moat has since filled with silt and then dirt, but its placement is obvious when viewing the site.

Roads leading away from Inverlochy Castle carried visitors, troops, and residents in one direction to a smallish settlement, later to be founded as Fort William, and in the opposite direction, towards present day Inverness.

King Achaius is most widely known for his alliance with Charlemagne. Scotland, under Achaius, and France, Germany, Italy, under Charlemagne, were under constant siege from the Saxons. Word of Achaius ability to repel, and defeat, the invaders spread across Europe. Because of this notoriety, Charlemagne visited Achaius, and proposed a treaty.

The treaty, signed in Achaius’ second year of rule, was an agreement stating that should either ruler be attacked by England, the other would come to his aid.

As a showing of solidarity between Scotland and France, King Achaius took for his standard a yellow background featuring the Red Lion Rampant in the fore. Rampant means the lion is standing upright, on its back legs. Two circles of fleurs-de-lis, the French emblem, surround the red lion. This combination of Scottish and French symbols represented the alliance between Charlemagne and Achaius.

Charlemagne was so impressed with Achaius that he offered the hand of his daughter in marriage, thus sealing the deal. The two went on to marry, have three sons and one daughter.

Charlemagne, further enamoured by Achaius and his troops, went on to employ Scottish bodyguards. It was about this time that King Achaius established the Most Noble Order of the Thistle. Achaius appointed 12 others to join him in The Order, making the total of Knights 13. This number was selected to be symbolic of Christ and his 12 apostles. For several hundred years afterward, there were never more than 13 Knights. King George IV changed this law, thus allowing more than 13 Knights in The Order.

Early Inverlochy Castle continued for many decades after the rule of King Achaius, before its destruction by Danish invasion somewhere between the 10th and 11th Century. It was later rebuilt in the early 13th Century by Comyns of Badenoch, and named Inverlochy Castle.

In 1836 Lord Abinger built a new Victorian chalet and named it Inverlochy Castle, a few miles from the ruins of the ‘true’ Inverlochy Castle, in Torlundy. Lord Abinger’s decision to name his new home, which is a present day hotel, Inverlochy Castle has sparked a naming controversy. There is now Early Inverlochy Castle, home to King Achaius, Old Inverlochy Castle, built by the Comyns, and Inverlochy Castle, the hotel built by Lord Abinger.

Regardless of its name, the ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle are just a few minutes from Fort William, in the Lochaber Region of the Scottish Highlands, and definitely worth a day trip to enjoy.

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Hogwarts Express – Fort William

Author J.K. Rowling was traveling by train when the inspiration for Harry Potter came to her, and the train motif has carried along throughout her series in the form of the famous Hogwarts Express. What few people realise is that the Hogwarts Express is actually a functioning steam train, running through the Highlands of Scotland as The Jacobite Steam Train.

One of the most famous locomotives in history, steam engine number 5972, named ‘Olton Hall’, and is powered by a Hall 4-6-0 steam engine, pulling 4 cars or carriages behind. This lovely steam engine, and other carriages used in the film, were provided by the West Coast Railway Company. Olton Hall was built in 1937 in Swindon, and was one of 330 locomotives created by designer Charles Collett.

Although filming occurred in several locales, the most memorable scenes were shot along the route where the Jacobite Steam Train runs. In fact, the most notable scene was shot with the Hogwarts Express crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a few miles from Fort William. Filming was done at King’s Cross railway station, at North Yorkshire Moors Railway, on board the train itself, and most importantly crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Glenfinnan Aquaduct - Hogwarts Express

Glenfinnan Aquaduct - Hogwarts Express

Glenfinnan Viaduct has 21 arches, follows a curving path for 416 yards, and is 100 feet high. At the time of construction, it was the only concrete built viaduct the world had ever seen! Combining Harry Potter notoriety with the incredible views of Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel make the viaduct an attraction all its own.

The Hogwarts Express plays a key role in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In it, Harry meets Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, later to become his best friends, on his first trip in the Hogwarts Express. Much like many British boarding schools prior to 1950, Harry is put on the private train at the beginning of the semester and met again at the end of semester by his family (aunt and uncle). Other notable characters having scenes on the train include Neville Longbottom, Remus Lupin, Luna Lovegood, Draco Malfoy, and Horace Slughorn.

Hogwarts express - The Jacobite Steam Train

Hogwarts express - The Jacobite Steam Train

The Jacobite Steam Train is part of the West Highland Line or Iron Road to the Isles (Gaelic – Rathad Iarainn nan Eilean), which runs from Glasgow to Mallaig, and itself travels between Fort William and Mallaig weekdays from mid-May to mid-October, and weekends in June and July. Although the actual engine will not be 5972, the train is very much like that used in Harry Potter, and travels the route across the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

In 2008 it departs Fort William at 10:20, arriving in Mallaig at 12:25. Its return journey departs Mallaig at 14:10, arriving in Fort William at 16:00. Fares along the Fort William to Mallaig run range from £16.50 for a child standard round trip ticket, up to £43.00 for an adult first class return.

Reliving the Harry Potter magic by taking a trip on Hogwarts Express is a grand day trip. However, many would like some photos of the train while crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It crosses near the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre about 11:20 and 15:00, though times may vary by several minutes, so plan ahead. The Glenfinnan Visitor Centre is just down the road from Fort William along the A830, and is readily accessible by bus or automobile.

The Jacobite Steam Train journey is one of the finest in the world, despite its brief 84 mile run. Its route is spectacular, passing many impressive sites in the region. These include Britain’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis, its deepest freshwater Loch Morar, shortest River Morar, deepest saltwater Loch Nevis, and most westerly railway station on the mainland at Arisaig. Stations along the route include: Banavie, Corpach, Loch Eil, Glenfinnan, Lochailort, Beasdale, Arisaig, Morar, and Mallaig.

Other scenic beauty along the way includes Inverlochy Castle, The Great Glen, Caledonian Canal and Neptune’s Staircase. Then there’s the view from Arisaig, where on a clear day, one can see the small isles of Canna, Eigg, Muck, and Rum, as well as portions of the Isle of Skye. There is always the possibility of seeing Morag, the lesser known sea monster, which resides in Loch Morar according to legend (Nessie has always been more popular). Silver sandy beaches seen in the movies Local Hero and Highlander are also along this route.

Although most widely known thanks to Harry Potter fame, the Jacobite Steam Train, or Hogwarts Express is a wonderful adventure, allowing travelers to explore and see many of the finest sites in the Highlands of Scotland. The journey begins in Fort William!

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Fort William Buildings Earmarked for Refurbishment

18 September 2009 Fort William

Many buildings in the Lochaber area are set for refurbishment as signs of economic stability and stimulation return to the region.

Some of the most noteworth buildings include the old Fort William High School, reported on in our news 13 September, the former NHS clinic in Caol, and the Nevis Bank Hotel, now under new ownership.

When this is put into context which includes a renewed bid for a town centre regeneration, waterfront development talks, west end planning and building, new housing starts in Upper Achintore and a number of yet un-publicised plans, there are definitely signs of life being breathed into Fort William and Lochaber.

Kilmallie Road is the site of the former NHS community clinic which is scheduled to see council homes being built in its stead. This facility has decayed rapidly since the establishment of the new health centre on the outskirts of Fort William (Camaghael).

Thanks to some forwarding thinking officials in the council housing and social work department, some government monies have been earmarked for building eight new homes on the former NHS site in 2010.

With more than 800 people on the housing register for Lochaber, the move to build additional homes cannot come soon enough!

There are many other Fort William building projects underway or in planning which further signal a possible return to normal, following the past financial crisis which has hurt the local economy.

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A82 closure abandoned 28 August 09

TRANSPORT Scotland (TS) has bowed to public opinion on a controversial plan to close the A82 at Fort William for major road repairs and postponed the work until next year.

TS had planned to shut the A82 over a 3km stretch from Seafield south to Heron Bay from 8pm to 6.30am, except Friday and Saturday, with the £400,000 contract starting on September 27, but Highland Council wanted an October 26 start and an overnight closure of 10pm to 6am to minimise disruption to tourism businesses and shift workers. Both sides tried to find a compromise, but differences could not be overcome and TS decided to pull the plug on the work for this year.

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Red trail for Mountain Bikes, only accessible via the cable car

Fort William Red Mountain Bike Trail.

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bed & breakfast

Featured Bed and Breakfast listings in and around Fort William

Bed and Breakfast - Muirshearlich

Bed and Breakfast - Muirshearlich

FeaturedTigh-a-Ghlinne bed and breakfast, close by the town of Fort William, with marvelous views of the Caledonian Canal and Ben Nevis, has all the comforts needed by the weary traveller.   Not only is this delightful bungalow set in a rural location,   but is also close by for a restaurant and pub.

email: stevie@tigh-a-ghlinne.co.uk – Tel: 01397 712578 – to visit this site, click the picture

Double, twin and en-suite facilities, breakfast in either the dining room, kitchen or, weather permitting, the breakfast-decked area.   Use of kitchen, a guest lounge with books, hifi, dvd player and wifi is included.

Fantastic hospitality! How all B&Bs should be! See you on our next trip to Scotland.

 

Address: North Road, Fort William, PH33 6TQ

Tel: 01397702977

Inverlochy villas Bed & Breakfast

Inverlochy villas Bed & Breakfast

Email: info@inverlochyvillas.co.uk

FeaturedInverlochy Villas, being the Fort William B&B closest to Ben Nevis, offers spectacular view and remarkable amenities including breakfast in bed. Reasonable rates, and first class service.

We recommend spending some time with hosts John and Adrian, who have a good many stories to share about the local area, recommended sites to visit, and those to avoid. Make your stay complete with a complimentary nightcap, a lovely whisky from the nearby Ben Nevis Distillery.

loved the breakfast in bed, really felt spoilt this trip to Scotland, will be back!

Address:   Station Road, Corpach, Fort William, PH33 7JH

Kildonan Bed & Breakfast

Kildonan Bed & Breakfast

Tel:   01397772872

Email: info@fortwilliambedandbreakfast.co.uk

Featured – Gorgeous 3-Star B and B in Fort William! Kildonan is just 3 minutes from train station, bus stop, and major attractions, yet off the main roads for peace and quiet as well.

Be sure to check out the website for great offers, photos of the rooms and common areas, and contact information for Kildonan Fort William Bed and Breakfast.

fabulous attentive hosts, very clean and neat accommodation.


Bracarina Bed and Breakfast

Address:   Bracarina, Mallaig, PH40 4PE
Tel:   01687462164

no reviews yet

Fassfern Bed and Breakfast
Address:   Achintore Road-Gordon Square, Fort William, PH33 6RQ
Tel:   01397704298

Fassfern Bed and Breakfast is a lovely Victorian stone villa just a couple of minutes walk from the heart of Fort William. All rooms are en-suite and priced very competitively considering the splendid views of Loch Linnhe and the Ardgour Hills.

no reviews yet

Forest View B&B
Address: 24 Wades Road, Kinlochleven, PH50 4QX
Tel: 01855 831302

no reviews yet

Glen Albyn Lodge
Address:   Glen Albyn Lodge, Invergarry, PH35 4HL
Tel:   01809501348

Email:   reception@glenalbynlodge.co.uk

An outstanding Bed and Breakfast Home – Located in Invergarry “The Heart of The Highlands” – The perfect tour base for seeing all that is best in The Highlands.

no reviews yet

Tailrace Inn
Address: Riverside Road, Kinlochleven, PH50 4QH
Tel: 01855 831777

no reviews yet

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