A hiker’s guide to Fort William, Scotland

If you’re into hiking, then you’ve probably heard of Ben Nevis – the United Kingdom’s highest mountain. 

But Ben Nevis is not the only must do hike in Scotland, there’s also hundreds of munros (Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet or 914 metres) and many other trails to do.

Unfortunately, I only had time to do some trails around Fort William and nearby Glencoe – but here’s some of the best hikes I did.

View from Ben Nevis.

Ben Nevis

This is a popular hike and what many people come to do when they visit Fort William. The 1,345 metre mountain takes about six hours return at a moderate pace, starting and ending at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre at Glen Nevis.

View from Ben Nevis summit.

To be honest, I didn’t find the hike that exciting and I think there are better hikes in Scotland. But when in Scotland, you might as well do the highest mountain. 

The hike weaves up a barren, well trodden trail. There’s a nice lake on the way up where you can take a break before continuing uphill. It’s not a steep hike as the path ascends gradually, but it’s quite long. The later you start the hike, the busier it will be. But the views are nice from the top.

One of the munros on the Ring of Steall hike.

The Ring of Steall

This hike was one of my favourites in Fort William and takes you across four munros.

If you don’t have a car, you can take the N42 bus (summer only a starting in early May) from the Fort William bus station to the last stop, the Lower Falls carpark. Cost is £4.40 one way, cards accepted.

The hike starts from the Steall Falls carpark, which is a 30 minute walk up the road or you can try to hitchhike.

Heading up to the first munro.

From the Steall Falls carpark, head towards Steall Falls. Once you reach the waterfall, head across it and then you’ll see a path heading right up a steep hill. This steep hill will take you up to the first of four munros on this hike.

This hike continues up and down as you descend and ascend each of the munros. The hike is tiring and is fully exposed, so make sure you bring a hat and sunscreen as well as some warm and waterproof gear. This is Scotland, so the weather can change very quickly even if it starts out sunny. It’s also a good idea to bring some insect repellent as there can be lots of midges flying around on the trail.

After going over four munros, you will finish the hike by going down a steep scree field and then down a grassy slope.

Descending the Ring of Steall hike.

The hike extends over 20km and will take about 8-10 hours depending on your pace.

The hike ends at the Lower Falls carpark. The last bus is at 5pm in the summer months. If you miss the bus, you’ll have to walk or hitchhike back to Fort William. I did miss the bus by about 30 minutes , but fortunately some lovely locals I met on the hike offered me a lift back to Fort William.

Glen Nevis.

Glen Nevis to Lower Falls

If you’re looking for a less challenging hike, you can take a hike in Glen Nevis from the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre to Lower Falls.

This is a very pretty hike beside a river and through a mossy forest. The hike takes about two hours each way.

Lower Falls.

Pap of Glencoe

Glencoe is located about 30 minutes from Fort William and is accessible by bus N44 heading for Kinlochleven.

The Pap of Glencoe is a prominent peak above Glencoe and offers superb views.

View of the Pap from Glencoe Village.

The hike starts along Old Glencoe Road, which can be reached on foot from the bus stop at Glencoe Village. 

The hike heads steeply uphill over rocky ground, gradually winding uphill to the summit.

Going up the Pap of Glencoe.

From up here, you get views over nearby lochs including Loch Leven.

It’s a great spot for golden hour and sunset. The return hike takes about four hours.

Sunset from the Pap of Glencoe.

Lost Valley

The Lost Valley hike leads into a valley that you can’t see until you’re on top of it. The story goes that this is where the MacDonald clan hid their stolen cattle.

The hike leads up beside a pretty gorge, gradually winding uphill until you reach a rise and then you’ll look into the hidden valley.

On the way up to the Lost Valley.

You can do the hike in around three hours, so it’s a nice half day hike. There’s also trails to several munros around this area.

It’s a little tricky to get here without a car but I ended up hitchhiking from a pull off lane near Glencoe.

Looking down into the Lost Valley.

West Highland Way – Kinlochleven to Glencoe

Did you know there’s some sections of the West Highland Way you can do as a day hike?

I didn’t want to commit to do the West Highland Way so I looked into shorter sections that would be possible as a return day hike.

I settled on doing a section from Kinlochleven to a high point above Glencoe , which was about 20km return and took about six hours.

The West Highland Way.

The hike starts on a wide dirt track through forest before coming out onto hills and from there on the path is exposed.

It’s an easy hike with some ups and downs but nothing technical, so it’s a good one to do if you want to sample the West Highland Way.

An alternative route on the West Highland Way is Kinlochleven to Fort William, which will take about 6-8 hours.

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