Ben Nevis Ascent

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Chronology of Fort William's history

A chronological history of Fort William's past


 | Year | Event | Detail
| 7,500 BC  |First evidence of human settlement in Scotland  at Kinloch, Isle of Rhum in Lochaber.
| 3,000 BC  |   | Recently discovered “Cup Marks” at Blarmafoldach suggest early territorial markings of agricultural settlement. Probable inhabited caves at Onich.
| 2,000 BC  |   | Burial Cists with urns containing charred human remains found especially around Onich and North Ballachulish. Standing Stone at Onich.  
| 1,000BC  |   | Vitrified Fort in Glen Nevis at Dun Deardill
| 800AD  |   | Ballachulish Goddess
| 1270  |   | (Old) Inverlochy Castle Built
| 1429-31  | Skirmish  | 31 Royalists for King James defeated Alexander Lord of the Isles in Lochaber. In 1431 a rematch had Donald Balloch MacDonald (Alexander’s cousin) rout a royalist force led by the Earls of Mar and Caithness - the 1st Battlle of Inverlochy. ‘Tis said they delayed engaging in battle to finish a game of cards.
| 1645  | Battle  | Second Battle of Inverlochy - Montrose’s army after a sustained overnight March takes Campbell forces by surprise and routs the Duke of Argyll’s army.
| 1654  | 
  | General Monk, Cromwell’s emissary sailed into Loch Linnhe and built a timber palisade, “The Fort of Inverlochy” to accommodate 250 troops. He anticipated his mission to check the Highland Clans (especially the Cameron’s) would not be brief and took provisions for two years
| 1690 |   | The Fort of Inverlochy was strengthened with 20’ high stone walls, fifteen guns and barracks for a thousand men. It was then named Fort William after the King and the adjacent village which it had fawned became Maryburgh after Queen Mary. Some of the stone walls and the “Sally Port” remain to this day.
| 1692  | Glencoe  | The final papers authorising the “Massacre of Glencoe” were signed in the Fort and sent a detachment of troops to the McIains of Glencoe. After receiving their hospitality the soldiers turned on them in the early hours of a snow bound winters night, killing men, women and children. The wood panelled room in which the papers were signed is now reconstructed in the West Highland Museum.
| 1722  | Mining  | Lead mine opened at Strontian. Later that century a new mineral Strontianite was discovered and the new element named appropriately Strontium was identified in 1793.
| 1725  | Road building  | General Wade began building his great roads in the Highlands “to civilise the country”. The road from Fort William to Inverness crosses the River Spean above a deep rocky gorge at “ Highbridge”, completed in 1736. The pillars are still standing. Here a skirmish took place in 1745 heralding the Jacobite uprising of that year. 
| 1745  | The Jacobites  | Charles Edward Stewart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) raises his Standard at Glenfinnan and takes his Jacobite army to Edinburgh, Carlisle and then on to Derby in an attempt to take back the British Throne for the Stewarts.
| 1746  | A Siege  | Siege of Fort William. The 1,500 strong Jacobite army with 200 French Artillery men laid siege to the Fort for 5 weeks, but failed. A sign of things to come - ending in  the fateful day on the Moor of Culloden when the Highland Army were defeated. Charles goes into hiding spending many months being pursued by Redcoats. Cumberland “The Butcher” ravages Lochaber after Culloden.         
| 1750s  | Rebuilding  | Town of Maryburgh rebuilt in wood (in case of further insurrection when it could be torched quickly.
| 1752  | Murder  | The Appin Murder
| 1803  | Engineering  | Construction of the Caledonian Canal begun designed and built by Thomas Telford.
| 1818  |   | First boats pass through the Caledonian Canal.
| 1822  |   | Caledonian Canal officially opened
| 1825  | Whisky  | Long John” MacDonald’s distillery opened producing “Long John’s dew of Ben Nevis. Still making whisky and has a Visitor Centre. Free dram!
| 1830s  | Tourism  | Many Tourism begins in the Highlands with the advent of regular swift Steamboats. The “Lochiel Arms Hotel” (later Banavie Hotel)  built beside the Caledonian Canal for Tourists.
| 1840s  |   | Fort William lit with oil lamps
| 1843  |   | “The Disruption” of the Church of Scotland. The breakaway “Free Church” was not recognised by local lairds, Ministers were banned from their Churches and use of land for services was forbidden. Services were held in graveyards and in Strontian a “Floating Church” on Loch Sunart allowed the minister to preach afloat whilst the congregation stood on the shore below the high tide line.
| 1847 | Royal Visit | Queen Victoria arrived at Fort William en route to Ardverike “house hunting”. It rained heavily. She may not have been amused. Instead of buying Ardverike on Loch Laggan side; she went eastwards and bought the Balmoral Estate instead. It is drier there!
| 1849 | Highland Famine | The Highland famine at its height due to potato blight which decimated the staple food source. More emigration resulted.
| 1852 | Dr.William Kennedy dies | Dr. Kennedy, local doctor,  dies in an outbreak of Typhus. Memorial built in Cameron Square.
| 1860 | "New" Inverlochy Castle built | Construction of Lord Abingers “New” Inverlochy Castle began at Torlundy.
| 1861-1865 |   |  
| 1864 | Belford Hospital opens | Belford Hospital opened. Built by Andrew Belford of Glenfintaig after the death of a Shepherd's wife in childbirth on his estate.
| 1873 | Queen Victoria stays in Fort William | Queen Victoria spent a week at Inverlochy Castle visiting Glenfinnan, Achnacarry and Glencoe Weather mixed!
| 1879 |   |  
| 1881 | Clement Wragge climbs Ben Nevis daily | Clement Wragge climbed Ben Nevis daily each summer daily for two years to make meteorological recordings and establish a need for an Observatory on the Summit.
| 1883 | Ben Nevis Observatory opened | A bridle path to take ponies to the top of Ben Nevis constructed and an observatory  opened which took daily recordings on Britain’s highest summit for 21 years.
| 1886 |   |  
| 1890 |   |  
| 1891 |   |  
| 1894 | West Highland Railway opened | The West Highland Railway opened to traffic; its terminus Fort William became the focal point of the town. MacBrayne’s steamers landed on the pier (now occupied by “Crannog” the  sea food Restaurant) a stones throw  from the old station.
| 1895 | First Ben Nevis Race | William Swan, local hairdresser runs up and down Ben Nevis in 2hrs.41m.
| 1896 | Fort William Hydro Power | The Fort William Electric Lighting Company taps the Kiachnish river with a Hydro scheme and sees Fort William as the first town in Britain to be lit by electricity.
| 1900 |   |  
| 1902 |   |  
| 1904 | Ben Nevis Observatory | Ben Nevis Observatory closes but “hotel” on the summit remains open until the first world War

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| 1909 | Kinlochleven Aluminium Smelter opened.(B.A.) | Blackwater dam constructed by teams of Navvies as recorded by Patrick MacGill in his "Children of the Dead End"
| 1911 | Ford Car ascends Ben Nevis  | Ascent of Ben Nevis by Sir Henry Alexander in a Model “T” Ford! 
| 1912 |   |  
| 1914 |   |  
| 1915 |   |  
| 1918 |   |  
| 1923 | West Highland Museum opened | The West Highland Museum opened in Cameron Square. Its recent refurbishment shows off to advantage its local and especially Jacobite collection which is of International Importance.
| 1926 |   |  
| 1928 |   |  
| 1929 | Fort William Aluminium Smelter opened.(B.A.) | The British Aluminium factory opens after five years of construction. Its Aluminium smelter is powered by a Hydro scheme tapping water from a vast area of the Lochaber & Badenoch. A tunnel 15ft in diameter,15 miles long and 200ft below ground was driven through the hillside of the Ben Nevis Range to carry water from Loch Treig to the factory’s power house.
| 1930 |   |  
| 1934 |   |  
| 1935 |   |  
| 1938 | Scottish Six day trials | Scottish Six day motorbike trials first centered on Fort William
| 1939 |   |  
| 1940 | Wartime in Lochaber | The outbreak of War changes Lochaber into a major centre for servicing Atlantic Convoys and a training ground for Commandos (headquarters at  Achnacarry Castle) and for  Motor Torpedo Boats. In December a bomb penetrated the power house at the factory but did not explode - it had been sabotaged during it's construction in Germany.
| 1941 |   |  
| 1945 |   |  
| 1948 |   |  
| 1949 |   |  
| 1950 |   |  
| 1951 | Ben Nevis Race restarted | Modern Series of the Ben Nevis Race begins.
| 1952 | Commando Memorial unveiled | The Commando Memorial unveiled by the Queen on a prominent site above Spean Bridge on the A82. This striking bronze by Scott Sutherland commemorates the Commando’s killed in the Second World War most of whom were trained hereabouts.
| 1953 |   |  
| 1955 |  First female to run Ben Nevis Race |  Kathleen Connochie aged 16, (now Mrs Kathleen Macpherson), completed the Ben Nevis Race as first female, and was featured in Guinness Book of World Records for around 30 years. Until this point no female had completed the race. The Amateur Athletic Association had to amend their rules, as they had not permitted any  female to run this race. This resulted in female athletes being given equal status and allowed to run in athletic events like the marathon. 
| 1962 |   |  
| 1963 |   |  
| 1964 | Pulp Mill opened | The Scottish Pulp and Paper Mill company open an vast industrial site at Annat utilising the local resources of water and wood. This brings a major influx of population with new housing, shops and amenities.
| 1965 | New Belford Hospital opens | The New Belford Hospital built to accommodate the increase population and expectations of modern medicine and surgery.
| 1967 |   |  
| 1969 |   |  
| 1974 | Town bypassed | A town by-pass was built on piers in the Loch to take traffic away from the congested main street. The station was relocated and a roundabout built adjacent to the remains of the Old Fort.
| 1975 | Ballachulish Bridge | Ballachulish Ferry no more as the bridge is opened
| 1975 | Town Hall burnt down | The “Old Town Hall” burnt down in December when being used by the Royal Mail to sort the Christmas Post.
| 1980 | Salmon Farming develops | Commercial Salmon farming becoming more important with fish pens on many sea ands Fresh water lochs. A processing factory on the “Blar Mhor” can dispatch up to 200 tons of fresh Salmon daily and all within 24 hours of harvesting.
| 1981 |   |  
| 1986 |   |  
| 1988 | Lochy Estuary reclaimed | Reclaimed land beside the old estuary of the River Nevis was developed with a large hall and leisure centre and Safeways supermarket.
| 1989 | Nevis Range opened | Skiing on Aonach Mor opened December 1989 with Gondola and chair lifts.
| 1994 | Nevis Radio | Nevis Radio started broadcasting 24 hours a day!
| 1995 |   |  
| 1996 |   |  
| 1997 | Longest "Strip the Willow" in the West! | The West Highland Museum celebrates its 75th Anniversary with 3,000 people in the High Street to see and dance “The Longest Strip the Willow in the West” . The dancers stretched 250 yards from the Grand Hotel to beyond St.Andrews church
| 1999 |   |  
| 2000 | Last "Strip the Willow" of the Century | Fort William celebrated the Millennium with the last "Strip the Willow" of the Century with 7,000 gathered from the Grand Hotel to Nevisport; followed by a fine firework display.
| 2001 | Mountain Biking World Cup | Mountain Biking World Cup held for the first time in Fort William at Aonach Mhor
| 2004 |   |  
| 2005 | Support the Belford Public Meeting | 2,800 attended a Meeting at the Nevis Centre where conclusions of the West Highland Project were to be delivered. The audience vociferously rejected the proposals which derailed the Health Boards plans and led to national acceptance of the locally conceived "Rural General Hospital" model.
| 2007 | Mountain Biking World Championship Aonach Mhor | Mountain Biking World Championship Fort William
| 2008 | Pulp Mill demolished | The Tower of the Pulp Mill blown up to assist demolition
|   |   |  

Explore these featured listings

Corriechoillie Farmhouse, Spean Bridge
NEW TO MARKET 2018 - availability in May through October Corriechoillie Farmhouse, Spean Bridge is set in a cobbled courtyard and is the place for making family and holiday memories. 4 bed house, sleeping up to 8 with double parking, outbuilding for ski, bike, hiking equipment. Large garden for bbqs, sunbathing, playing games or the solitude you require. Stunning surroundings.  The only thing you will hear at night are the owls.  No street lights, no traffic, tranquility.  Oil central heating at the touch of a button. 6 ring gas hob and electric oven, washing machine and tumble drier free of charge. Fridge, freezer, microwave. Open fire in the living room with coal and kindling provided in the winter. Unlimited WiFi. Free sat TV, DVD player with a selection if films for all ages. Board games and playing cards. Travel cot, mattress and high chair provided, please note no bed linen for babies provided. TV in twin bedroom with chromecast. Shower and bath. Access to each bedroom without disturbing other bedrooms. Max of two dogs allowed at an additional charge, we ask that dogs do not go on furniture or sleep in the bedrooms. Outbuilding for safe storing of any mountian bikes, ski equipment, kayak, canoe etc etc. Double parking. Mountain bikes trails, walking pays,  hillwalking right on your doorstep.  Near to Aonach Mor (Nevis Range) ski resort, the highest mountain in the UK Ben Nevis, and also start of both West & East Highland Ways. Gateway to the Highlands, the outdoor Capital of the UK. 1hr away from the first polar bear born in UK for 25 years. Your perfect base. Whether you want a peaceful stay or something more active Corriechoillie Farmhouse is the place to stay, set close the foot of the Grey Corries and many surrounding Mamores, excellent location for hill walkers. Short distance to the train station in Spean Bridge (2 miles), catch the train to Corrour and walk back to the house. Many forest tracks for walking and mountain biking, varying in distance right on your doorstep.  Aonach Mor which hosts the World Mountain Bike championships is just a direct 5 miles by mountain bike or walking from the house, this is also the local ski centre (please note no direct access by vehicle).  Should availability permit we will accept shorter breaks.  Access to the whole garden, double parking and outbuilding. The village of Spean Bridge has a golf course where clubs and trollies are available for hire.  For the more adventurous there is Active Highs where you can organise a variety of outdoor activities. The village also hosts three restaurants, local bar, grocery store, soap shop and woollen mill.   There is also a taxi service, regular bus service and a train service. Come and watch the traditional Scottish game of shinty played each Saturday and Sunday at the local pitch.  The site of the Commando Memorial is one mile north of the village with the museum situated in Spean Bridge Hotel. Ben Nevis the highest mountain in the UK is just 11 miles away near the town of Fort William, in the town you will find the Nevis Centre which has a soft play area, ten pin bowling, badminton, concerts, tennis court and occasional cinema, There are also supermarkets, the leisure centre, climbing centre and 18 hole golf course. Catch the Steam Train (Hogworts Express) from Fort William, enjoy the viaduct at Glenfinnan made famous in the Harry Potter films and experience the stunning views of the Inner Isles at your destination (please note booking is essential).  Take a boat trip down Loch Linnhe where you may see grey seals and otters.  There endless things to see and do around Lochaber.
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The Waterfront
This luxury self catering apartment in Fort William is new to the market and is a delight. Located by the shore of Loch Linnhe, and a short walk into town, our "just for two" self catering accommodation makes a wonderful place to stay during a visit to Fort William. Partially open-plan the holiday accommodation comprises an airy sitting room with leather settees and maple flooring. There's a breakfast bar and the stylish kitchen is fully equipped including a washer dryer, dishwasher, filter Coffee Machine, fridge and microwave. There's a large Smart TV, DVD and Free Wireless internet access. Original pictures decorate the walls. The beautifully appointed, spacious bedroom has an en-suite bathroom and shower. Just check out the solid brass large king-size bed! Everything you might need has been thought of, bedding, fluffy towelling robes, luxury toiletries and a TV. The Apartment has a small garden which looks out across the loch to the surrounding hills, and is a sheltered spot to relax outside. There is private parking and plenty of internal storage. If you are looking for somewhere "special" then you've found it! We look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to Fort William. To check availability please phone 07850 205300 or 07710 973826 or complete the form below. 2019 weekly lets start from £560 Low Season to £735 High Season  all inclusive, including free unlimited wi-fi, nothing else to pay.  Our Winter Breaks are for a minimum stay of 3/4 nights. Prices are from £85.00, £95.00 or £105.00 per night depending upon month chosen.
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Gairlochy Holiday Lodges
Gairlochy Holiday Lodges are situated near Spean Bridge at the south end of the Great Glen, on the B8004 between the Commando Memorial on the A82 and the Caledonian Canal. The canal is ten minutes walk and this is where you can join the Great Glen Mountain Bike Trail or the Great Glen Way. We are about 20 minutes from Fort William. Our pine lined chalets are well equipped with washing machine, fridge, full cooker, micro-wave, TV and shower. Each has two bedrooms upstairs, a double, and a twin, with linen provided. All are centrally heated with a focal point fire in the lounge area. Prices quoted are inclusive of all heating and hot water costs. Parking is available beside each chalet. Our caravan holiday homes are two bedroomed and have toilet/shower facilities, full cooker, microwave, gas fire, fridge and TV. All caravans are replaced on a regular basis with a maximum letting period of four seasons. Parking is provided beside the caravans and they have unhindered views of Ben Nevis and the Nevis Range ski development. Other park facilities include play area, payphone and launderette. Gas and Electricity are included in our prices. Discounts for couples. If you are also interested in a holiday caravan we have thirty pitches for touring caravans and campers, this area has a modern toilet block with showers, hot water, elsan disposal and a separate dish wash point. There are also eighteen electric hook up points. For lots more details please give us a call - we look forward to hearing from you soon. Use the enquiry form below to check availability.
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