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Vegan eating and things to do in Fort William and Lochaber


If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (or even TikTok since I did recently make my debut) you'll know that me and my parents took a wee trip to the West Highlands in September. We decided to stay in Inchree, which is about 10 minutes south of Fort William (via car) and used that as a base to explore the wider Lochaber area. 

If you've never explored this area of Scotland then let me post a spoiler and say that it is absolutely stunning, even after summer has passed. There's also a lot to do and the three days we spent there still weren't enough to cover everything. It's also very touristy, with Fort William known as The Outdoor Capital of the UK, so you'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to attractions, accommodation and dining options. My dad has been to Fort William many times in his life and even he was finding new spots to visit. 

Eating vegan food in Fort William

Whenever I come back from holiday the first question I get asked is: how was it for vegans?! Fort William was amazing and while the wider Lochabar area isn't great it's not undoable. We had a cool box with us so we packed sandwiches and snacks for road trips and I'd recommend you do the same. However, I did manage to find a few gems. 

The Wildcat

Fort William's dedicated vegan café was just as good as I had heard it was. It's very popular though and even though me and my mum arrived only an hour after opening we were told to leave our numbers and we'd be called when a table became available. Thankfully we got a call ten minutes later and hadn't went too far.

I had the avocano which is fake avocado made from (if I remember correctly) mashed up edamame beans, peas and seasoning. It was very believable and a lot more sustainable. I also had a beetroot latte and a handful of raw cakes. Their Facebook page however makes it look like they switch up their menu regularly so check before you visit as what I had might not be available. 

Ben Nevis Inn

If you had told me a month ago that I'd eat one of my best vegan meals at a small inn on a rainy day at the base of Ben Nevis I wouldn't have believed you. This cozy cottage has a separate vegan menu (remember to ask for it) and I opted for the wild mushroom and asparagus gnocchi which was glorious. My mum, who is not vegan, opted for the veggie burger and thoroughly enjoyed her meal too. My dad had the regular beef burger and was also pleased with his choice. This place isn't the cheapest but was well worth the extra pennies. They also have a generous selection of local alcoholic beverages on tap. 

Ben Nevis Bar

The Ben Nevis Bar in Fort William, according to my dad, is one of those quintessential Highland pubs that has been there for decades. Apparently he's had many drams and pints there over the years. They also have a vegan option in the form of a curry (they were only offering their reduced menu that day but on the website there's also a veggie chili bean burger). It was marked as vegetarian on the menu but I was assured it was vegan and when eating it I couldn't taste and dairy. 

On the whole, the Ben Nevis Bar is lovely and I can understand why my dad has popped in numerous times over the years. Even if you're not hungry, it's still well worth stopping by for a look at the whisky bar. 

Aroma

Sorry but it's time for a bit of a meh review. Aroma is a Chinese takeaway in Fort William which we popped by one night to grab something to take back to our chalet. It wasn't horrible and was definitely edible and did the job for a takeaway but I have had a lot better. Sorry. 

Sound Bites

Okay, so a bit of an honorary mention here. I didn't actually stop in by Sound Bites while in Arisiag since we had food in our car and our priority was getting out to Mallaig - but the menu looked lovely and I kind of wish I had delayed Mallaig for it! If I'm ever in that area again I'll make it a priority to stop by for some vegan haggis bon bons. 

Things to do

Fort William and Lochaber have no shortage of things to do, even if you're not particularly outdoorsy. Believe me, I had no intention of walking up Ben Nevis (my parents have both attempted it in the past but had to turn back due to bad weather and safety concerns). Here's what you can do on a slightly more chilled holiday in the West Highlands. 

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan is a lovely hamlet a few miles west of Fort William and is home to the Glenfinnan Monument, the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the Glenfinnan Museum and some lovely walking trails with beautiful views. Yes, this is also the location that is used for the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films but the viaduct and Jacobite Train have a much longer and very important history in Scotland. 

Remember to look up the time of the Jacobite Train so you can watch it glide across the viaduct (and you can even book a seat on it to boot!).  As for the walks, I was wearing gym leggings on this day, but still had on my Converse and my handbag and got on okay along the Viaduct Walk. And remember to stop by the Glenfinnan Museum at the operating Glenfinnan Railway Station. It's small but talks you through the history of the viaduct and railways in general. The entry fee is a donation of your choice. 

Loch Morar

The whole reason we were in the west Highlands to begin with was so I could visited Loch Morar, aka the home of Nessie's lesser-known cousin Morag! Loch Morar is a much calmer spot that Loch Ness and in fact, the road doesn't go very far round it; if you want to see it all you'll have to get your walking boots on or bring a canoe! I also popped on my swimming costume on for a bit of wild swimming! 

Silver Sands of Morar

More wild swimming! The Silver Sands of Morar were much chillier than Loch Morar (though lacking its own monster!) but the incredibly soft sand made up for it. Like Loch Morar just a few minutes away, I consider the Silver Sands to be a must visit. And similarly to Loch Morar, wasn't overrun with people. 

Glen Nevis

There was no way I was climbing Ben Nevis having only ever completed one other Munro back when I was sixteen (it was Lochnagar). But I'm glad my mum mentioned Glen Nevis to me which is an easier walk (a mix between uphill and downhill) into a beautiful glen that isn't reachable any other way. I was wearing my gym trainers, gym leggings, waterproof jacket and a small rucksack with water and snacks. It isn't the hardest of walks but you definitely need a reasonable level of fitness and weather-appropriate clothing that you can move in. I also wouldn't recommended if you have young children. 

Nevis Range Gondola

So, uh, we made the decision to go up the cable car on a cloudy day praying that the clouds would split before the top. They didn't so my review is lacking. Though there were vegan options in the mountain top restaurant.

West Highlands Museum

I adored this pint-sized museum in the middle of Fort William. It focuses primarily on the Jacobites but it also hosts a few extra pieces of local history. I loved the fashion room where I learned more about tartan and the various outfits of Queen Victoria. Entry is donation only and I picked up two new books in the gift shop.

Where we stayed


Whenever I go on holiday I avoid staying in accommodation that should be someone's house, especially when I'm visiting somewhere where there is a housing shortage. The West Highlands has suffered because people are buying holiday homes and AirBnBs making it harder for locals to stay in the area, and I point blanked told my parents I wouldn't come if they booked a holiday home. 

We settled on the Inchree Chalets, which were just lovely. They are self-catering and the kitchen came with everything we needed to create simple meals (okay, my dad moaned that there were no whisky glasses). The chalet we stayed in (Glen Crenan) was home to three bedrooms: a master double downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs with two single beds each. The living room was also home to a couch, tv and dining table. There's also a separate building with laundry facilities if you're staying longer. I was with my mum and dad, but this would have also been a lovely chalet for a group of friends, especially if there was a couple who could take the downstairs bedroom. Me and parents all agreed we would consider staying here again. 

What to pack

The West Highlands is one of the wettest areas of Scotland, so take waterproofs and sensible shoes even if you're travelling in summer. As for evening outfits, no one was particularly dressed up while dining in Fort William and a lot of people were still wearing their walking gear at the pub. If you really want to look more put together for dinner, jeans and a nice top is probably your best bet (anything more than that and you'll be overdressed). 

Etc. 

Fort William is very popular and can get extremely busy in the high season. We visited just outside of high season on purpose so we could avoid the crowds. It was still busy and we got stuck in a few traffic jams. We also managed to book our accommodation with only two months notice but my parents know, from personal experience, that you sometimes have to book summer accommodation a year in advance. I wouldn't recommend just turning up and hoping to find something.

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