Explore Lochaber

There are many well known and publicised sites in Lochaber. Click on the map or the key to the right to browse some of these, along with some of the less well-known but nonetheless interesting and accessible sites to be found in the area.

1. Ballachulish Inclined Plane and Slate Quarries

Ballachulish slate quarry today © J M BriscoeA stone built inclined plane that is the last visible structure that survives from the Ballachulish slate quarries. These quarries were the most important source of slate in Scotland, from their opening in 1693 until they closed in the early 20th century. The inclined plane carried wagons of dressed slate down to the piers and took empty wagons back up to the working faces. The public road passed through an arched opening at the base. MoreBack to top

2. Glencoe

Glencoe Massacre Memorial © J M BriscoeThis beautiful, atmospheric glen will forever be linked with the brutal massacre of the McDonalds in 1692 by a detachment of Government troops. The site of the house of McDonald lies just to the north of Glencoe village, now occupied by farm structures, and a monument commemorating the massacre is a short distance away to the south east. In the heart of the village a pair of linked, cruck framed thatched cottages and a separate byre have been converted for use as a folk museum. The museum displays objects and information that are relevant to the social history of the area. Visit the museum website for more information. Back to top

3. Kinlochleven Aluminium Works

View of pipelineThe aluminium works at Kinlochleven was completed in 1909 by the Loch Leven Water and Electric Power Co which had merged with the North British Aluminium Co Ltd. The works was operated by the largest British hydroelectric power station of its day via four miles of pipeline and aqueduct bringing water from the Blackwater Reservoir. The large factory block, which contained rows of 76 smelters, has now mostly been demolished but the power house is still in situ along with several other buildings. Part of the works is now in use as an indoor climbing centre. MoreBack to top

4. Dun Deardail

View from the summit of Dun DeardailAn Iron Age fort on Forestry Commission land in Glen Nevis. The line of the ramparts can still be traced in many places and there are many lumps of "vitrifaction" which result from the fusing of rock at high temperatures. The exact process that led to this fusing of rock into a lava-like material is not well understood and debate rages over whether this was a deliberate process to strengthen the ramparts, the result of burning during warfare or a ceremonial "closing" of the site. A dip in the rampart in the north-west corner was the original entrance and a faint path can be traced up the steep slope below that may be the original access. MoreBack to top

5. Cromwell's Fort, Fort William

Cromwell's Fort viewed from the beachThis is the fort that gave Fort William its name. The remains consist of parts of the ramparts and one of the bastions. The fort was begun in 1690 being built on the site of an earlier 1650s construction known as the garrison of Inverlochy. It was abandoned in 1864 and the land was later acquired by the West Highland Railway Company who built a railway yard over much of the site. MoreBack to top

6. Neptune's Staircase

Neptune's Staircase © Jeff TilburyAn impressive flight of eight locks near the southern entrance to the Caledonian Canal. This is the single largest component of the canal, itself a considerable engineering achievement. This ship canal was constructed between 1803 and 1822 through the Great Glen from Loch Eil to the Beauly Firth. A second phase of construction took place between 1844 and 1847, finally realising Thomas Telford's original vision. Although it never reached its intended capacity, as shipping technology had moved on, the canal proved its strategic importance during the First and Second World Wars. MoreBack to top

7. Inverlochy Castle

Inverlochy CastleInverlochy Castle was built in the late 13th century by the Comyn Lords of Lochaber. Archaeological excavations have shown that the site was occupied from an even earlier date. This was one of the most important castles in Scotland, forming the backdrop for two battles. The first, fought, in January 1431 was one of a series of battles in which James I attempted to break the power of Alexander, Lord of the Isles. The second was fought on 22 February 1645 the Covenanters, based at Inverlochy under the Marquis of Argyll, were defeated by the Marquis of Monstrose's Royalist forces. MoreBack to top

8. Well of the Seven Heads

Close up view of the seven heads © J M BriscoeThis monument commemorates a gruesome series of events that took place in the early 16th century. Following the brutal murder of members of the Keppoch family, a branch of the powerful Macdonnel clan, the heads of the perpetrators were presented at the feet of the clan chief after having been washed in the spring at this spot. The monument was erected in 1812 on the orders of Lord Macdonnel and has been known ever since as "Tobar nan Ceann" or the "Well of the Seven Heads". MoreBack to top

9. Invergarry Castle

Invergarry Castle © Andrew TaylorInvergarry Castle, on the north bank of Loch Oich, was a stronghold of the Macdonnels and was occupied by the clan chief until 1746. Bonnie Prince Charlie,"The Young Pretender", is said to have stayed here after his disastrous defeat at the Battle of Culloden and the castle was subsequently attacked and burned by the Duke of Cumberland. The present L-plan structure, which survives as a roofless ruin, dates from the late 17th century. The building is presently in an unstable condition and should be viewed from beyond the safety fence. MoreBack to top

10. Glenfinnan Viaduct

Glenfinnan Viaduct © Wolfgang KruegerFamously featured in the Harry Potter movies, this magnificent 21-span viaduct is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland. It was opened in 1901 by the West Highland Extension Railway. Find out more about the West Highland Railway at the nearby Glenfinnan Station Museum. MoreBack to top

11. St Maelrubha's Chapel, Arisaig

Old chapel and burial groundThis ancient church overlooking the bay of Arisaig dates from at least the 16th century and may be older. Fragments of inscribed stones can be seen inside the church and in the burial ground along with other interesting features such as wall plaques and stone "stoups" (holy water containers). MoreBack to top

12. Ardnamurchan Lighthouse

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse © Andrew TaylorSituated at the most westerly point in mainland Britain this lighthouse, designed by Alan Stevenson, first displayed a fixed light in 1849 and was converted to flashing in 1928. The associated buildings have been converted to a visitor centre, cafe and shop. The imposing pink granite tower is visible for miles around. Visit the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse website for details of opening times. MoreBack to top

13. Mingary Castle

Mingary Castle © Andrew TaylorA medieval castle strategically located on a promontory of rock south east of Kilchoan commanding the entrance to the Sound of Mull and Loch Sunart. A curtain wall encloses a courtyard containing three ranges of buildings. A stone stair gives access to a battlemented parapet walk. The substantial stone tower dates from the early 18th century replacing an earlier hall. MoreBack to top

14. Ardtornish Castle

Ardtornish Castle © Andrew TaylorA medieval hall house sits on the summit of a rocky outcrop overlooking the Sound of Mull. The foundations of other buildings lie scattered on the north side of the hall house and along the foreshore. The hall house suffered a well intentioned, but poorly executed, "restoration" in the early 20th century. Little is known of the early history of the castle but the hall house appears to date from the second half of the 13th century and was probably abandoned around the end of the 17th century. MoreBack to top