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About the West Highland Line

Some information about the West Highland Railway Line between Fort William and Mallaig

The Fort William-Mallaig railway was one of the last major railway-building projects in the British Isles. Completed in 1901, it is widely regarded as one of the world's most scenic rail journeys and all the better to make that journey by steam train during the summer months. The West Highland Railway which was completed in 1894 terminated at Fort William, but its promoters rapidly realised that although they had reached the West Coast they were still far from the fishing grounds of the Minch and the ability to get to market. 

The railway took 4 years to build, and was one of the first major constructions in the world to use mass concrete. In fact, the bridge across the Borrodale Burn was once the largest concrete bridge in the world. Concrete was also used to build the 21 arches of Glenfinnan viaduct, 11 tunnels and many other bridges across the numerous burns and rivers. 

Before the line opened in 1901, access to the rest of the world was by coastal steamers, by the rough hill tracks or by a mail coach which travelled from Arisaig to Fort William three times a week and took seven and a half hours to make the journey. People living along the new line were now able to travel to Fort William in less than two hours, at a fraction of the mail coach fare, and crofters could send their animals to market by train instead of driving them long distances on foot. 

Mallaig itself was transformed in ten years from a small community of crofter-fishermen into a vigorous fishing centre, landing huge quantities of herring to be taken swiftly south along the new railway. The line improved the economy of the area enormously, although it relied on Government support from the very beginning. Now the days of the great fish specials have gone and the principal ferries to the Outer Isles leave from Oban and Ullapool, but the railway continues to contribute to the local economy. Every year many thousands of people travel along it enjoying the spectacle of steam hauled trains, re introduced to the line in 1984, after an absence of 20 years, or simply to enjoy the many fine views it offers.

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Traigh Golf Course
Traigh Golf Course welcome visitors and is “Probably the most beautifully sited nine hole Golf Course in the world” (says The Scotsman newspaper).  It was recently made world famous by a large sinkhole that opened up on the course. The sinkhole has now been safely repaired and the course is playing better than ever - complete with a new grassy bunker! Traigh Golf Course is known as "one of the most scenic golf courses in Scotland" (say BBC) and is located 40 miles west of Fort William. The word Traigh (pronounced “Try”) means beach in gaelic, and the course lies beside sandy beaches and rocky islets, with spectacular views to the islands of Eigg and Rhum, and to the Cuillins of Skye. Golf has been played at Traigh since about 1900, but the old layout was rather cramped, and the course was enlarged and greatly improved in 1994. It was redesigned by the well known golf architect Mr. John Salvesen, with assistance from Mr. James MacDonald, Head Greenkeeper at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, who is a native of Arisaig. The feature of the course is a line of grassy hills, originally sand dunes, which rise some sixty feet, and the first hole demands a skilful tee shot to the top. At the second, a long drive is needed, to get from one summit to the next. The third drops down towards the beach, while the fourth passes between two gorse covered hills to a beautifully positioned green. The fifth hole crosses a broad burn - broader still at high tide - and the sixth comes back across the burn in a tricky dogleg par four The seventh - which was the location of the sinkhole - is a long par five, while the eighth climbs back to the top of the hill, and the glorious view, and the ninth drops down again to the beach and the clubhouse. Golfers Information Visitors are always welcome. Clubs are available for hire. Golf clubs, balls, tees, gloves and clothing are on sale at the clubhouse. Advance booking is only required for larger parties. Fees should be paid at the clubhouse, or if it is closed put in the Honesty Box. How to find us Traigh lies two miles north of Arisaig, six miles south of Mallaig and forty miles west of Fort William. Take the A830 main road to Arisaig, then follow the coastal road (B8008) two miles north. There is a signpost to the course on the A830. Park across the road from the white Clubhouse. Visit Fort William also recommends Fort William Golf Club, Spean Bridge Golf Club and the Dragon's Tooth course at Ballachulich
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Vertical Fever
Whether tackling Ben Nevis, traversing the mighty Skye Cuillin Ridge or scaling giant Himalayan summits. Vertical Fever delivers bespoke mountain instruction, guiding and expeditions providing you with a safe and rewarding adventure in the mountains. Mountain Instructor & Guide, Fort William, Scotland Vertical Fever is a friendly, professional mountain guiding company run by qualified Mountaineering Instructor, Steve Holmes. More than anything we pride ourselves on the high quality of the guiding and training we provide. In busy periods we occasionally use other qualified Instructors and Mountain Guides known personally to us to ensure we deliver that high quality and continue to help turn your dreams and ambitions into reality. Vertical Fever is based out of Fort William, where we enjoy excellent access to the UK’s highest mountain; Ben Nevis. Standing at a lofty 1345m above sea level, ‘The Ben’ dominates the skyline just a couple of miles South East of Fort William. It is here our mountain guides and instructors spend most of their time be that on the huge multi-pitch rock climbs or world renown snow and ice climbs. • Guided Walks to the Summit of Ben Nevis • Guided 'Open Group' Ascent of Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis • Rock Climbing, Mountaineering and Scrambling on Ben Nevis  • Scottish Winter Climbing and Mountaineering on Ben Nevis and Glencoe Vertical Fever also operates in the surrounding area of Glencoe where there are many classic routes to challenge the aspiring mountaineer. Glencoe is possibly most famous for housing the best mainland ridge in the UK; the Aonach Eagach. At nearly 10km long with exposed sections of scrambling and climbing, this iconic route should be on everyone’s ‘to do list’. • Guided 'Open Group 'Traverse of Aonach Eagach • Rock Climbing, Mountaineering and Scrambling in and around Glencoe A large portion of Vertical Fevers Spring / Summer season is spent on the atmospheric Isle of Skye where mountaineers take on the challenge of Scotland’s toughest summits and most iconic mountaineering challenge the Skye Cuillin Traverse. These technical mountains are not for the faint-hearted, why not allow one of our mountain guides or instructors to safeguard some of that risk and make your adventure all that more enjoyable. • Guided Traverse of the Skye Cuillin Ridge • Guided day ascents of Skye Cuillin Mountains Occasionally, we also offer amazing expeditions to faraway places such as Africa and the Nepalese Himalaya, please browse the Adventure section of the website to see if one of our local Fort William mountain guides or instructors can provide you with an amazing experience which you will savour for a lifetime. • Worldwide Expeditions
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Kirkhope Mountaineering
Based at the foot of Ben Nevis and with Glencoe and Skye not too far away, Kirkhope mountaineering is perfectly placed to help you with your next adventure. We offer Guided walks of Ben Nevis with a Ben Nevis Guide, via the Tourist path or Guided Ben Nevis climbs on classic routes such as Ledge Route and Tower Ridge on its magnificent North face. The world-famous Glencoe is only 30 mins away and has some of the most accessible scrambling and rock climbing in Scotland. Popular classics include a day out with a Curved Ridge Guide, a Guided traverse of the Aonach Eagach and Agag's Groove. Ben Nevis Guided Walks are very popular and we can accommodate any size group and even help you plan your trip if you are organising a charity event. Summer is the season for our Skye Cuillin Munros Courses and for Guided traverses of the Skye Cuillin Ridge. We offer Guided Rock climbing and Rock Climbing courses on the west coast of Scotland During the winter months, we offer Scottish Winter Climbing Courses and Winter Mountaineering Courses in the Glencoe and Ben Nevis area. Guided Winter Climbing is very popular and is available for single or multi-day courses. Please feel free to get in touch to discuss your plans or if you would like some advice to help you plan your next adventure. [email protected] For a full list of what we can offer please visit www.kirkhopemountaineering.co.uk below is a list of just some of our most popular courses. • Scrambling • Rock climbing • Ben Nevis guided walks • Skye Cuillin courses • Mountain biking • Glencoe guided scrambles
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Snowgoose Mountain Centre
From the aspiring novice to the more advanced mountaineer Snowgoose Mountain Centre offers the perfect introduction, course, mountain guiding or holiday of a lifetime. This is whether you want an introduction to rock climbing & abseiling, learn to lead on  rock, develop your navigational skills or tackle big mountaineering routes in summer or winter. Maybe you will want to extend your summer mountain activities into autumn and winter by getting to grip with the skills needed to take on winter walking, winter mountaineering then snow and ice climbing. Our aim is always to introduce  our clients to the  fundamental  hill and mountain skills or develop those they have already so that they can independently progress their mountaineering expertise through out the year from summer into winter mountaineering. • Winter Mountaineering and Ice Climbing Courses are run at this fantastic time of year in the Scottish Highlands by Snowgoose Mountain Centre when the hills and mountains are covered with snow and ice. Our skills based winter courses for climbing, mountaineering and guiding are delivered in the mountains around the Ben Nevis and Glencoe areas in a convenient location four  miles from Fort William. We deliver courses in basic ice axe & crampon techniques, avalanche awareness, through to advanced winter climbing courses. Complete winter novices are introduced to the basic winter walking skills needed to travel in the mountains of the Scottish Highlands safely in winter  giving a solid skills base. •  A wide range of mountain based skills coaching, courses, guiding & holidays are on offer throughout the spring, summer and early autumn suited to the needs of individuals, families, & groups. Our courses & holiday are led only by local, friendly , professionally qualified and experienced course leaders, instructors & guides based largely on “the Ben” Nevis, Glen Nevis, Glen Coe, Creag Meaghidh, Ardgour and Kintail areas. If you are new to mountain based activities and our area  then why not join a group or book a guide to do the ascent of the UK’s highest mountain – Ben Nevis. An iconic day out on the mountains – which ever way you do it. We cater from absolute beginners wanting a leisurely mountain walk to those requiring an in depth refresher before taking a qualification assessment. Our rock climbing courses provide a logical progression from indoor wall climbing to Classic Munro, Rock, Ridge mountain routes. Participants going on overseas, high altitude trekking holidays find that our courses – summer or winter – are an excellent value preparation for such expeditions. Snowgoose Mountain Centre is an AALS licensed centre (Adventure Activities Licensing Authority) and a DofE AAP (Approved Activity Provider) for Expeditions and Residentials.  John Cuthbertson holds the MIC (Mountain Instructors Certificate) which is the highest UK based mountain instructor's qualification. He is a also an Accredited Gold DofE Assessor for walking & paddling expeditions.
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Free Spirit Boat Hire
Free Spirit hire boats are neat clean silent-running electric powered motor boats that are easy to drive and a perfect opportunity to enjoy the peaceful, scenic Caledonian Canal for an hour or two. Couples, car-loads and coach-fulls of all ages are catered for with safety equipment supplied by us.  We are proud members of  Neptune's Staircase Activity Hub, established by Scottish Canals to open the Caledonian Canal up to many more users than ever before. Free Spirit electric boats are the first of their kind on the Scottish Canal network.   SOMETHING TO REFLECT UPON! The opportunities for a day out at Neptune's Staircase are extensive. -A self-drive boating adventure with Free Spirit.  -Refreshments at the Moorings Hotel, at the canal side next to the car park. -Kayak and bike hire from Rockhopper, half way up the lock flight. -Harry Potters Steam Train, from Fort William to Mallaig. A day out in itself. -Or, twenty minutes drive from Free Spirit Boat Hire you could be watching the steam train glide over the now well know Harry Potter flying car bridge atGlenfinnan. (A perfect spot to view from above can be reached via the short path up the hillside to the left and behind the visitor centre there. The monument on the beach across the road is also a must-see.  Before or after all that you might ride the Gondola up to the Golden Goose Cafe at Nevis Ski Range. To mention but a few! Boat Capacity 3 large adults, 4 medium sized adults, family of 5. One adult with 4 to 5 children depending on ages.   We encourage youngsters to steer the boats so they gain valuable experience while on the water. They will enjoy receiving their "I've Been a Free Spirit" badge to mark their achievement.   From wildlife spotting to counting the jumping trout (which you can fish for by the way), steering and navigating, there is an abundance of memorable moments to be enjoyed and taken home.   Couples can share a unique experience together. Families, often three generations in one boat can spend magical moments amid the mountains. Groups of friends always come back in our boats pleasantly surprised at how nippy they are. Were they racing!?   Group bookings attract discounted hourly rates. We offer children's birthday party and school trip packages.    Directions Heading north out of Fort William on the A82, turn left at the Ben Nevis Distillery, onto the A830 Mallaig road. One mile down, cross the Caledonian Canal and turn first right into Banavie to find ample parking. Free Spirit boats launch from the pontoon just beyond Top Lock, 2 minutes walk from the car park. Just follow our signs.    Opening Hours 10:00-17:00 7 days a week during school summer holidays. Otherwise weekends; and at any other time by arrangement. Telephone bookings are easy to make. If we can we will!  Read more about: Terms and conditions can be read here  Reviews  Up to date Facebook 
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Caledonian Discovery
Caledonian Discovery operate 2 large holiday barges, allowing you to explore the Great Glen while travelling along the Caledonian Canal including Loch Ness. Starting in either Fort William or Inverness, enjoy an unique holiday experience, amidst superb Highland scenery. Prices include all food and accommodation in twin ensuite cabins which have powerful hot showers. The resident cook uses the finest local ingredients to produce fantastic food. You can have a holiday of gentle relaxation or fun and adventure, it's up to you. Optional outdoor activities include walking, biking, sailing and canoeing or alternatively you can relax on board whilst we travel through the Great Glen. A qualified instructor is on hand to help. In addition, we have themed weeks when we offer wildlife, music and our very popular option of Walk the Great Glen week. Our 2020  and 2021 schedules are available for your consideration . Our 2020 cruises start from £975 and are also based on 2 people sharing a twin cabin, with ensuite facilities for a 7- day cruise. We also have a special early booking offer on our 2021 cruises. Save £70 per person on a 7 day cruise.  Save £35 per person on a 4 day cruise – This offer is only available until the 31st January 2021 Why not charter one of our barges? It is a wonderful way to discover this beautiful part of Scotland. If you reserve one of our comfortable barges, you decide exactly what you want to do from canoeing, walking, cycling, or a mixture of activities, on a 7-day journey through the Great Glen and you save money! Starting either in Inverness or Fort William, travel along the Caledonian canal and the lochs Ness, Oich and Laggan. It is an escape you will love. To find out more Click here  Remember to also have a look at our Offers which appear occasionally Visit www.caledonian-discovery.co.uk for more information. or alternatively email [email protected] or contact the friendly office team on 01397 772 167 Monday to Thursday 9:30 am to 4:30pm. 
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The Highland Mountain Company
Please get in touch to enquire and book your next adventure in the hills here. Email: [email protected] Mobile: 07815 688608 Our Guides live year round in the Highlands.  They are fully qualified mountain instructors, have many years experience. Their local knowledge about the area, mountain landscape and history is second to none. They are more than eager to show you the hidden gems of the Highlands, you never knew existed. Situated at the base of Ben Nevis, The Highland Mountain Company offers and delivers high quality mountain guiding and instruction in a range of mountain activities to families, friends and small groups.  Whether its your first step in the mountains or looking for another adventure to add to your experience, we have something for you. In summer we offer walking, mountaineering and climbing. Some of our popular days include: • Ben Nevis ascents via the Mountain track, CMD arête, Ledge Route and Tower Ridge. • Low level walks like Steal Waterfalls  • Glen Nevis adventure walk, climbing and abseil, fun for all ages and abilities. • Glencoe walks and the Aonach Eagach and Curved Ridge • 4 day Skye Cuillin Munro course • Skye Cuillin Ridge Traverse over 2 days In winter we offer winter skills courses, winter walks and winter climbing: • Ben Nevis ascents, (see our dates) • Winter skills courses of 1,2 and 3 day duration, (see our dates) • Guided winter Munros, For more information about dates, prices and our activities please get in touch  www.thehighlandmountaincompany.co.uk or to see recent photos at our Facebook page Included in our price is the use of ice axe and crampons for winter activities, helmets and harness for all climbing and abseiling activities. *Buy an activity as a gift for someone else* If you see something that you think someone else would enjoy then please get in contact and we can send a gift voucher.
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