The historic Neptune’s Staircase is a series of locks on the Caledonian Canal at Banavie, just north of Loch Linnhe. Constructed by noted Scottish engineer, canal and bridge builder Thomas Telford, the staircase comprises of eight locks and takes boats roughly 90 minutes to travel up the 64 feet to the top. It is the longest staircase lock in the UK.
The Caledonian Canal runs for 60 miles along the Great Glen from Corpach, near Fort William, to Inverness. Neptune’s Staircase is the most impressive single engineering feat on the canal – a ladder of eight locks that raises vessels to a height of 70 feet above sea level. On a clear day this is also one of the best viewpoints for the dark north west side of Ben Nevis. Located on the outskirts of Fort William, signposted off the A830 road to Mallaig.
Walking and Cycling the Caledonian Canal bank.
The ruins of this 13th-century castle near fort William is the site of two battles. Now in the care of Historic Scotland, the castle, although ruined, is unusual as it has remained unaltered since the reign of King Alexander III. The moat that surrounded the castle has long gone but the location at the western end of the Great Glen and natural defensive postion against the River Lochy gave Inverlochy castle a superior advantage. The old Military Road built by General Wade passed right by the castle and can still be followed back in to Fort William.
Inverlochy Castle last played a part in Scottish and English history during the Civil Wars of the 1640’s. In 1645 the royalist Earl of Montrose routed the roundhead forces of the Campbell Chief Duke of Argyll at the second Battle of Inverlochy. Read more about the castle at: www.inverlochycastle.co.uk
Sunsets in the North West can be particularly dramatic. Always unpredictable, what looks like a sky that will be nice but unspectacular can quickly develop into an unforgettable experience.
Take a Drive: Follow Loch Linnhe to Oban
Oban is an excellent destination for a day trip and there is a great deal to see on the way there. The busy town of Oban lies by a sheltered bay in the lee of the island of Kerrera, 44 miles south of Fort William. Since Victorian times the town has been one of Scotland’s most popular resorts, as well as an important harbour for services to the West Highlands and the Hebrides. One of the most popular boat excursions from Oban takes in the small islands of Staffa and Iona with views en route of the beautiful east coast of Mull. Among the many places to see or visit on the way to Oban are Castle Stalker, The Isle of Lismore, and the Sea Life Centre.
Appin, Lismore and Loch Creran.
Glen Nevis and Steall Falls.
The spectacular waterfall known as An Steall Bàn, Steall Waterfall or Steall Falls is situated in Glen Nevis near Fort William. It is Scotland’s second highest waterfall with a single drop of 120 metres (390 ft). The fall can be viewed from the path that runs through the Nevis Gorge, an area owned by the John Muir Trust which manages the area for its wilderness qualities. An Steall Bàn means “The White Spout” in Gaelic.
Park at the car park at the very end of the road up Glen Nevis, this road changes to a narrow single track for the last 2 miles with steep climbs and sharp corners. Just before the car park there is a tremendous water slide descending from Ben Nevis.
The track from the car park guides you through a natural wood of birch, hazel, oak, willow, and Scot’s pine with dramatic views into the gorge. The information board and other signs warn about the rocky and possibly slippy path that is narrow and steep-sided in places and over-hung by cliffs. It then opens out into the meadow and you are greeted by wonderful views of the waterfall.
Close to the waterfall is the notorious wire-bridge across the river. It can be crossed by the brave with great care, using the top two wires for handholds and balancing the feet on the lower wire. Long distance walks continue from this area to Corrour, Kinlochleven and Spean Bridge.