Key Places - Great Glen Way
5 day off road
Fort William, sits on the shores of Loch Linnhe at the northern end of the West Highland Way; Scotland's oldest and most popular long-distance walk: and the start of the Great Glen Way. Today it is best known for its proximity to Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest peak and as the highlands outdoor capital.
Fort William is the largest highland town with a population of 10,000 (second in size only to the city of Inverness). The West Highland Museum is based here. The original settlement was built by Cromwell in 1654, a wooden structure to shelter English troops. The Fort was named after Prince William Duke of Cumberland (William of Orange) also known as the notorious Butcher of Cumberland.
The town has been used as a location in a number of films from Braveheart, to Rob Roy and Harry Potter.
The Great Glen Way
The Great Glen follows a natural fault line created in ancient times by a tectonic collision the raised the land mass of the Scottish highlands and opened a dramatic crevice across the entire country.
The Great Glen (An Gleann Mor) follows 80 miles of lochs and rivers from Glencoe and Fort William in the south to Inverness in the north. It's an incredible route created by nature through the Scottish Highlands, with dramatic scenery and verdant forests.
Highlights include Loch ness the Caledonia Canal – Thomas Telfords ingenious harmonisation of technology with the lay of the land.
The Great Glen was strategically important in controlling the Highland Clans particularly during the 18th century Jacobite uprisings as can be seen from the location of Fort William in the south, fort Augustus in the middle of the glen and Fort George just north of Inverness.
Inverness lies at the north eastern end of the Great Glen (Gleann Mòr). The city is the area’s largest metropolis and regarded as the capital of the Highlands. Meaning ‘mouth of the river Ness’ in Gaelic, the city is located where the Ness River flows out of Loch Ness into the Moray Firth (famous for its resident pod of Bottlenose dolphins).
Inverness is near to two key historic battle sites: the 11th-century battle of Blàr nam Fèinne against Norway which took place on The Aird to the west of the city and the 18th-century Battle of Culloden (the last battle fought on British soil. Inverness Castle now stands were, legend has it, was once the seat of 11th Century Gaelic king Mac Bethad Mac Findláich who murdered king Donnchad Mac Crinain, as fictionalised by Shakespeare in ‘the Scottish play’.
There are many other historic buildings, notably in the Old Town and Victorian Market. St Andrew's Cathedral, built from Red Tarradale stone, with a nave of five bays, divided by columns of Peterhead granite has an imposing position on the River Ness. You can take a circular walk from the castle along the river and through the Ness Islands. Other attractions in the city include Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, tropical gardens at Inverness Floral Hall and a Titanic Inverness Maritime Museum.
Above the city lies Craig Phadrig, an ancient hill fort and once the stronghold of Pictish Kings. From here you can enjoy forest walks and magnificent views of the Moray Firth.
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