• Fort William & Glen Coe

In the last decade 'the fort' has expanded to serve and exploit the constant stream of mainly foreign tourists that seem to invade throughout the summer months. In many ways it can be likened to a highland version of Chamonix, with a high street mall littered with loads of tartan nicnac and woolly jumper shops in place of the somewhat more appealing street-side cafes.

Amenities: Many cafes, restaurants and pubs in and around the pedestrian precinct on the High Street. The Great Food Stop restaurant in the Alexandra Hotel (opposite Nevisport) is far and away the best value restaurant in town. The only downside is you may have to endure live bagpipe or accordion music (or even both!). The Nevisport cafe/restaurant at the north end of the High Street is a popular meeting place with climbers, though a little bit pricey. The Nevisport bar underneath the emporium, with lots of photos of old dead climbers on the wall, is the closest thing approaching a climber's bar in town, with live music Saturday evenings. For 'real ale', as opposed to the fine home-brewed Scottish stuff, try the Grog an Gruel further up the street. Safeway supermarket (8-8 M-Sat; 9-6 Sun) at An Aird, midway between the rail and bus stations should provide all provisions. Late opening Spar stores in Claggan (first right off A82 Inverness road after Glen Nevis roundabout) and in Ballachulish. There is a cinema behind the Tourist Information Centre in Cameron Square in the centre of town.

There is a good fairly extensive steep bouldering wall within the leisure centre (Open 9-9 M-F; 10-6 weekends) which is on Belford road, a few hundred metres beyond the hospital heading out of town. Also Swimming Pool, Sauna, Squash, Fitness Suite & Solarium. Climbing and outdoor equipment shops: West Coast Outdoor Leisure, 102 High Street (01397 705777); Nevisport, High Street (01397 704921); Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports, Belford Road (opposite hospital) (01397 706220). The first two shops also provide regularly updated weather forecasts.

Accommodation: Masses of hotel, guest house and bed & breakfast accommodation, with the mile long southern approach road dubbed locally 'the golden mile', such is the profusion of b&b and guest house accommodation available. Bookings and info. from Tourist Information in Cameron Square (01397 703781 Fax 705184). Glen Nevis Youth Hostel (01397 702336 at NN 128 718 at the start of the tourist path up the Ben, 2 miles (3km) along the Glen Nevis road.

Private Bunkhouses: Ben Nevis Bunkhouse, Achintee Farm, Glen Nevis (01397 702240); The Smiddy, Station Road, Corpach (01397 772567); Fort William Backpackers, Alma Road (01397 700711); The Shelter, Fassifern Road (tel: 01397 705623); Calluna, Fort William (01397 700451); The Smiddy, Station Road, Corpach (01397 772467); Inchree Bunkhouse, Onich (01855 821287); West Highland Lodge, Kinlochleven (01855 831471); Leacantuim Farm, Glencoe (01855 811256); Grey Corrie Lodge, Roy Bridge (tel: 01397 712236); Aite Cruinnichidh, by Roy Bridge (01397 712315).

Club Huts: Alex Macintyre Memorial Hut, Onich; Manse Barn, Onich; CIC Hut, Ben Nevis; Steall, Glen Nevis.

Camp sites - There is a large official and very busy camp-site 1.5 miles (2.25km) down the Glen Nevis road at NN 125 722 overlooking the tourist path up Ben Nevis. Wild camping discreetly further up the Glen, with popular riverside sites below Polldubh, or further up the Glen. Wild camping is not permitted in the lower glen.

Public Transport: Skyeways bus service from Glasgow - Uig runs daily through Fort William, as do Citylink coaches, 4 times daily. By rail Fort William lies on the West Highland Line, with daily service from Glasgow - Mallaig passing through the town. Direct overnight Sleeper and Motorail.


Accommodation: Wild camping is still tolerated north of the river at the rear of the Kings House Hotel, and between the road and the river in the upper reaches of Glen Etive, though is generally discouraged elsewhere in Glen Coe. About a third of the way down the back road from Clachaig Inn - Glencoe village lie the Youth Hostel (tel: 01855 811219), Leacantuim Farm Bunkhouse and Red Squirrel Campsite (tel: 01855 811256). The National Trust Campsite is located in the forest on the west side of the A82, 1.1miles/1.8km SE of Glencoe Village. There are also Caravan and Camp Sites nearby at Invercoe (tel: 01855 811210), 0.5km from Glencoe Village; at Caolasnacon (tel: 01855 831279), 3.5 miles/5km down the B863 road to Kinlochleven; and Corran Caravans, Onich (tel: 01855 821208). Bunkhouses: Inchree, Onich (tel: 01855 821287); West Highland Lodge, Kinlochleven (01855 831471). Mountaineering Club Huts at Lagangarbh (SMC); Blackrock Cottage, White Corries (Ladies Scottish Climbing Club); Inbhir-fhaolain, Glen Etive (Grampian MC); Smiddy, Glen Etive (Forventure Trust); Kinlochleven (Fell & Rock); Alex Macintyre Hut, Onich (BMC/MC of S); Manse Barn, Onich (Lomond MC). Many hotels en route to Fort William, together with numerous b&b and guest houses in Glencoe, Ballachulish and Onich.

Amenities: The Clachaig Inn (tel: 01855 811679) and the Kings House Hotel (tel: 01855 811259), located at either end of the Glen, are the two most popular places for an apres climb pint for most climbers. Both also offer bar meals. All the other hotels en route to Fort William also serve bar meals. For provisions, there is a late opening Spar supermarket in Ballachulish village, 1 mile/1.6km west of Glencoe village. There are also a couple of small grocery shops and a post office in Glencoe village, together with a couple of cafes - try the River Coe Restaurant on east side of the A82. Petrol Station in Glencoe village. For outdoor equipment, maps, guides etc. Glencoe Guides and Gear (tel: 01855 811402) is conveniently situated at Tighphuirst, on the south side of the A82 just west of Glencoe village.