You can reach the ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle, scene of a famous battle, by driving 3km (1 3/4 miles) north of Fort William on A82. Built in the 13th century, the ruined castle still has round corner towers and a walled courtyard. One of the towers was the keep, the other a water gate. The castle looms in the pages of Scottish history -- here in 1645 a small army of Scots defeated government forces, although 1,500 men were lost that day. The former castle was once the stronghold of a clan known as the Comyns, and Inverlochy was the scene of many battles.
Neptune's Staircase, 5km (3 miles) northwest of Fort William, off A830 at Banavie, is a series of nine locks that were constructed at the same time as the Caledonian Canal, raising Telford's canal 19m (62 ft.). This "staircase" is one of Scotland's most prominent engineering triumphs of the mid-19th century, when the eastern seacoast at Inverness was connected, via the canal, to the western seacoast at Fort William. This greatly shortened the distance required for goods moving from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, and bypassed the treacherous storms that often rage around Scotland's northern tier.
Because much of Fort William is relatively flat, you may consider biking. The best rentals are at Off Beat Bikes, 117 High St. (tel. 01397/704-008), costing £12 for a half-day, £17 for a full day. You need only your ID for the deposit. It's open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5:30pm and Sunday from 9:30am to 5pm.
In the north end of town, the Ben Nevis Woollen Mill, Belford Road (tel. 01397/704-244), is a shop (not a functioning mill) where you find a large selection of clothing and accessories: wools, tweeds, tartans, and hand-knit Arran sweaters, as well as gifts and souvenir items. An on-premises restaurant features regional fare.
Shoppers might also want to check out the Granite House, High Street (tel. 01397/703-651), a family-run business that has been around for a quarter-century. The owners call themselves "giftmongers" and see their shop as a mini-department store. There's a large selection of Scottish jewelry, with silver pieces in both traditional and contemporary designs and numerous watches. Such collectibles as Lilliput Lane china and crystal by Edinburgh, Wedgwood, and Border Fine Arts are found here, and the traditional music department offers more than 1,000 Irish and Scottish music CDs and an array of traditional instruments, including pennywhistles and the bhodrain (a large drum struck with a single stick using both ends). The store also carries traditional toys for all ages.
Scottish Crafts & Whisky Centre, 135-139 High St. (tel. 01397/704-406), is another place with a good mix of the best of all things Scottish: regionally produced jewelry, garden fountains, rugs, and clothing. Whisky connoisseurs will find some limited-edition and very rare bottles stocked, including a 1958 Ben Nevis. Handmade chocolates by Fergusons are also available. Treasures of the Earth, Main Street, Corpach (tel. 01397/772-283), 6.5km (4 miles) west of Fort William along A830, sells crystals, minerals, and polished stones from around the world. They are available loose or set in jewelry, watches, and clocks.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.