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Fort William is the second largest settlement in the Highlands of Scotland with around 10,000 inhabitants – and the largest town: only the city of Inverness is larger.Fort William is a major tourist centre, with Glen Coe just to the south, Aonach Mòr to the east and Glenfinnan to the west, on the Road to the Isles. It is a centre for hillwalking and climbing due to its proximity to Ben Nevis and many other Munro mountains. It is also known for its nearby downhill mountain bike track. It is the start/end of both the West Highland Way (Milngavie–Fort William) and the Great Glen Way (a walk/cycle way Fort William–Inverness).Around 726 people (7.33% of the population) can speak Gaelic.HistoryThe earliest recorded settlement on the site is a Cromwellian wooden fort built in 1654 as a base for English troops to "pacify" Clan Cameron after the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The post-Glorious Revolution fort was named Fort William after William of Orange who ordered that it be built to control the Highland clans. The settlement that grew around it was called Maryburgh, after his wife. This settlement was later renamed Gordonsburgh, and then Duncansburgh before being renamed Fort William, this time after Prince William, Duke of Cumberland; known to some Scots as "Butcher Cumberland". Given these origins, there have been various suggestions over the years to rename the town (for example, to Invernevis).Plan your visit to Fort William and other destinations in United Kingdom using our United Kingdom trip planner.
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Top tours near Fort William
Loch Ness and the Highlands Small Group Day Tour from Edinburgh BOOK WITH VIATOR FROM $70
Duration: 12 hours
Private Central Highlands driving tour BOOK WITH VIATOR FROM $662
Duration: 7 to 8 hours
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Hidden gems in Fort William
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Wildlife in Fort William
Duration: 2 hours
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