At the southern end of Loch Ness is the scenic village of Fort Augustus. A Benedictine Abbey was founded here in the 1870s on the site of the fort which gives the village its name. For many years, the abbey also formed the base for a much respected boys’ boarding school but first this, then the building as a religious institution, closed, the latter in 1998.
The beautiful, extensive grounds, which run down to the shores of the loch, have now become home to some of the most exclusive self catering holiday homes and residential apartments in Scotland, providing an excellent base for exploring the area’s rich and picturesque landscape.
The community which sprung up in this area, probably around the 6th century, was first known in Gaelic as Cill Chuimein, which translates as church of Chuimein - Chuimein being a former bishop of Iona. The name changed when it became part of the garrison system set up during a Government attempt to “control the warlike Highlanders” around the time of unrest associated with the Jacobite uprisings. It was named in honour of William Augustus - the Duke of Cumberland, son of George II - who later inflicted terrible revenge on the clansmen who had shown their loyalty to the House of Stuart and Bonnie Prince’s Charlie’s bid to take the throne of Britain during the first half of the 18th century.
In the first half of the followin century, Fort Augustus became a key link in the waterway chain which was the construction of the Caledonian Canal.
One of the most impressive sights in Fort Augustus is the flight of locks there. You can find out more about how the canal was built at the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre in the village.
Also well worth a visit is the Clansman Centre where you can experience clan life five hundred years ago.
And, if one of your pastimes or passions is golf, then why not check the fine facilities at the Fort Augustus club. Designed by Harry Shapland Colt in the 1920s, this course is widely considered to be one of the most challenging heathland nine-holers in the country.
From Fort Augustus you can choose to follow the canal and explore further down the Great Glen all the way to Fort William in one direction, or Inverness – along the length of Loch Ness – in the other. There are roads from the Fort on either shore of this world-famous loch and the quieter, southern route is well worth exploring as an alternative to the busy A82 trunk road.