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What is special about Fort William and the outdoor capital of the UK?

The mountains of Glencoe and Fort William have a long heritage of outdoor pursuits, climbing, mountaineering, skiing, trail and hill running, open water swimming, kayaking and sailing - and more! Mountain biking is part of this history of outdoor culture - that is why it's known as the Outdoor Capital of the UK.

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We were delighted to be able to make this suite of films with Scotty, to showcase the spectacular riding across Scotland. In this film, we focus on the breadth of riding available across the Lochaber - have a watch and read on for more inspiration!

Lochaber has been a special place in UK mountain bikers form over 30 years and is one of the most iconic race venues in the world, with the UCI world cup being hosted in Fort William for two decades. For these reasons and more, Lochaber is a premier destination for mountain biking in Scotland.

Nevis Range and Glencoe are well known downhill trail riding destinations, with nearby Laggan also a classic Scottish trail riding spot. The area also gives a great potential for more adventurous tours into more remote landscapes. Smaller adventures are also there to be discovered - allowing visitors to create their own memorable experiences.

The communities of Lochaber are moulded by their surroundings, and the locals enjoy a lifestyle that is inspired by the landscape - Lochaber invites visitors to come and find out what's special about the area, to create their own memorable experiences and live like a local during their stay.



Nevis Range

Nevis Range is known to mountain bikers across the world for its infamous fast rocky track. Locals created the first trails in Leanachan Forest in the early 90's, which then evolved into the world cup downhill track and witches trail cross country routes. While the destination is known for its challenging trails - fast, rough and rocky, or steep, technical and slippery, it also caters well for beginner to intermediate riders, with many blue grade trails, including the 'Blue Doon', a 9km long gondola accessed 'moderate' graded trail, and the world famous downhill track, which had a significant refresh for the 2023 World Championships.

With the only mountain gondola in the UK, Nevis Range is a popular tourist attraction as well as a community asset. It also offers forest and mountain walks which give great panoramic views and make the mountain experience accessible to all.

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Nevis Range

Glencoe Mountain

Glencoe mountain is located at a relatively accessible spot to the south of Lochaber, at the entrance to the dramatic and atmospheric Glen Coe that drops down to the west coast. Its superb location gives dramatic views onto Rannoch Moor and Buachaille Etive Mor, perhaps the most photographed mountain in Scotland.

The chairlift gives access up onto Meall A' Bhuiridh, where trails are steep, rocky, and rugged. Both the red and the black trails have been used for Scottish Downhill Association (SDA) to host the national downhill race venue. For first time riders visiting Glencoe, it is recommended riding the red trail which is a real challenge for most mountain bikers. On the flatter mid-mountain there are some relatively easier trails (but still not for beginners!) that take a tour around trails linking rock slabs and stunning views.

Glencoe Mountain was Scotland's first ski lift, built in 1956, and Glencoe mountain maintains that independent and slightly raw feel - it certainly has its own character.

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Glencoe - not just for skiing!

Adventures By Bike

Lochaber rough and challenging terrain with a network of routes through the impressive scenery are the perfect back drop for adventures big and small. Plan ahead, prepare to be self-reliant and have a plan B should the conditions go against you and great adventures will be just around the corner! For a more civilised adventure, try a train ride out to Corrour or Rannoch stations and refuel at the great wee cafes on the platform.

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Mountain adventures

Experiences By Bike

The diverse and inspiring landscape of Lochaber makes it a perfect place to get away from the busy tourist hotspots and create your own unique memories. The Caledonian Way sections along Loch Linnhe and the Caledonian Canal give a lovely gentle cycle with great views and places to stop. For visitors looking for a wilder experience, how about cycling past deer roaming the hills on your way to a remote bothy with a packed lunch? Or a ride to a stunning loch or river for a picnic and a wild swim? Or explore the rugged coastline looking for secluded sandy beaches, and maybe spot an otter, seal, white-tailed eagle? Or jump on a ferry to the small isles and explore Rum, Eigg, Muck, or Canna by bike, supporting local businesses along the way.

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Exploring remote Knoydart - Sean Green

Fort William

The town of Fort William is a popular tourist destination, but also a thriving local community with a strong outdoor culture. With the start or finish of the West Highland Way, Great Glen Way, East Highland Way and Cape Wrath Trail, plus the UK's highest mountain, and easy access to the stunningly picturesque west coast, the town is a hub of activity and a perfect base for exploring the West highlands.

The trails around Fort William are generally quite demanding - short but steep and technical, but well worth an explore for more experienced riders.

Fort William Bike Park, a community run bike park opened in summer 2023 - possibly the most impressive backdrop to any pumptrack in the UK!

Recently the town has enjoyed a resurgence with the new Highland cinema, and several great options for eating out, alongside new leisure facilities like the 3 Wise Monkeys climbing wall. The town has 2 good independent bike shops Off Beat Bikes on the high street, and Nevis Cycles in Inverlochy.

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Fort William Bike Park

To minimise our environmental impact we are promoting riders to visit our key destinations and stay for as long as possible.

We hope that riders will consider their impact - travel as sustainably as they can, eat and drink local, give back to the trails they ride, and ride responsibly - considering their impact on other users, mountain rescue teams, landowners/managers, and the environment.

Lochaber is the place for all sorts of outdoor adventures – it really is the Outdoor Capital of the UK – check The Outdoor Capital of the UK | Home of Your Adventure as a place to start planning your adventure.

Train: You can access Lochaber via the Scotrail West Highland Line. It has limited availability for bike storage and we recommend (attempting) book your bike onto the train in advance of travelling. If you are unable to book your bike on the train, and although it is not guaranteed, we do find the train guard's and staff generally take a reasonable approach to taking your bike on a train. If there is no space then please be polite and considerate towards all staff (we know you will but just in case). The train also opens up potential for bigger adventure rides through epic scenery. A new ScotRail Highland Explorer bike carriage is now going between Glasgow and Oban, but in time will be extended to the Fort William line.

Bus: There are bus services to From Glasgow to Fort William, then onto Skye operated by Citylink. They have just launched a pilot scheme to make travel with bike easier, providing covers for bikes to be stored in coach luggage compartment.

Car: We recognise that a car, or van, is a really flexible and handy option for mountain biking trips. Covid considerations/restrictions should be taken into account, however, when possible we would recommend sharing lifts and minimising any unnecessary journeys. Where possible, park up and ride from your accommodation. Electric car charge points are available in various locations in Lochaber.

Hotels: There is a good selection of hotels in Lochaber. Please consider booking with Expedia through this link and 5% of your booking will go to the Lochaber Trail Association to help them maintain and develop the trail network you will be riding.

Camping: We highly recommend staying in a recognised campsite which has facilities including toilets, showers, and waste disposal onsite. Their are campsites to suit all tastes in Lochaber, whether you want to be based near the trails, town or coastline. Check out The Outdoor Capital of the UK | Home of Your Adventure to book your stay.

You may also, under Scottish Outdoor Access Code, choose to 'wild' camp - especially if you want a bikepacking adventure. Please be aware that you only have this right if you are a responsible camper - click away for more details on what that means in practice from our friends at Nature Scot.

Self-catering: There are plenty of self-catering options too. So if you are looking for a quiet secluded getaway for two or a large property for a gathering of friends - check out our friends at The Outdoor Capital of the UK | Home of Your Adventure for some fantastic options.

Food and Drink: The rugged west coast with its abundance of remote hillsides, rivers and coastline produces quality food and drink produce like venison, seafood whiskey and beer, and has a growing selection of great cafes, bars and restaurants.

Lochaber has a history of mountain biking stretching back to the late 1980s. Nevis Range and Glencoe established formal trails to meet the enthusiasm for mountain biking and allow the ski lifts to access trails. Locals have developed their own trail networks which tend to be steep and demanding and can be wet and muddy. Please bear this in mind and in wet conditions we advise respecting the local trails and sticking to the more weatherproof formal trails. As a popular outdoor destination, Lochaber can be busy with many outdoor enthusiasts - please respect other trail users and avoid busy hill paths.

Trail Maps & Apps For Destination

To help you plan your visit to Fort William and Lochaber we have collated the official trail centre maps and rider-driven apps which can help you discover the best trails across the area.

Rider populated apps are a great way to discover new trails however they may not be up to date with trail conditions and we recommend doing further research before you ride.

Please ride responsibly on all trails - follow our Do The Ride Thing guidance.

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