Fort William, which prides itself on being the Outdoor Capital of the UK, is within 40 minutes’ drive of the house. Fort William is located close to the foot of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis (1,344 metres (4,409 ft)).
The summit of Ben Nevis can be reached on foot (it’s a fairly tough climb – you will need to allow a whole day and be reasonably fit. The climb should not be attempted between November and May owing to the unpredictability of the weather. At all other times ensure you have appropriate kit and navigation aids).
Alternatively, take the Nevis Range mountain gondola up nearby Aonach Mor – Britain’s eighth highest mountain, to enjoy spectacular views. Once at the top, there are a range of activities on offer together with a café and restaurant. For more details, see things to do.
For those who don’t like heights, Ben Nevis Distillery offers guided tours and the West Highland Museum in the centre of Fort William provides an interesting insight into the history of Fort William down the ages. Children and adults alike are also likely to enjoy the exhibits on display in the Treasures of the Earth Museum in nearby Corpach.
Fort William is also the main departure station for the Jacobite Steam Train journey to Mallaig, the route is also available via a conventional train through Scotrail.
Closer to Coopers Knowe House, Glenfinnan is the location where Bonnie Prince Charlie came ashore and raised the standard for the famous rebellion in 1745. There is a now a monument and a visitor centre commemorating the failed uprising. Also in Glenfinnan is the viaduct made internationally famous in the Harry Potter films and the railway station is home to a small museum telling the story of rail travel in the Highlands.
Glenfinnan also provides the embarkation point for a wildlife cruise along Loch Shiel for eagle spotting.
Arisaig and Morar
Characterized by their white sands, both Arisaig and Morar are pleasant places in which to while away a few hours. The Arisaig Land, Sea and Islands Centre houses an exhibition that celebrates the natural and social history of the area. Morar is reputedly home to the deepest fresh water loch in Scotland.
The Ardnamurchan peninsula is one of the most remote and the most westerly areas of the British Isles. A scenic drive is therefore highly recommended, stopping off maybe to visit the ruins of Castle Tioram, near Acharacle. The Ardnamurchan Lighthouse sits at the most westerly tip of the British Isles, features a unique ‘Egyptian’ style and has been guiding ships since 1849. The Peninsular now boasts its own disillery which offers guided tours.
Isles of Skye, Rum, Muck and Eigg
There are regular ferry crossings from Mallaig (30 minutes’ drive from the house) to the Isle of Skye and the Small Isles of Rum, Muck and Eigg. In summer you can also take a cruise from Arisaig to the Small Isles. Skye can also be reached by road via the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh – it’s a long drive but on a clear day the views defy description.
Inverness and Loch Ness
A visit to the Highlands is not complete without a day trip along Loch Ness. Combine with a visit to Urquhart Castle to take advantage of the some of the best views of the loch from its tower house and a little retail therapy in Inverness.
Useful website links
Nevis Range Gondola, mountain biking, snowsport and mountain restaurant
Ben Nevis Distillery
West Highland Museum
Jacobite Steam Train
Treasures of the Earth – Gemstone exhibition
Urquhart Castle Loch Ness
Glenfinnan Station Museum
Loch Shiel Cruises from Glenfinnan – Eagle Watching
Sea Cruises to Small Isles from Arisaig
Arisaig Land Sea and Islands Centre
Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries