In reply to lummox: If you google "Fort William is a dump" you will get a fair number of hits. Living in the area though not in the town itself I know the town well and have to say that there is little wrong with it that an MLRS battery couldn't sort out. I moved here for reasons other than climbing but naively thought doing more climbing would be an incidental bonus. In fact I have put on several stone since moving to the "outdoor capital of the UK" and am well on track for clinical obesity. To be fair Lochaber has some beautiful places and I have managed to get routes in regularly if infrequently although my partners come from Ayrshire, Devon, Fife etc. Maybe I am just a miserable bastard with BO and a repellent personality but I am yet to meet any climbers that live in the area that aren't professionals in some sense. In that respect it has been a bit like moving to Amsterdam and looking for a girlfriend, I imagine.
Having lived elsewhere in the north of scotland I have to say that Fort Willie is probably one of the grimmest places to live north of the highland fault line. I haven't actually lived in Milnafua or the Ferry so I can't say for sure if the Fort is No.1 minghole I'm afraid. Clearly Dave MacLeod agrees with this to some extent as he has moved from Claggan to Letterfinlay!
I read in the Lochaber News the other day that the boss of OCUK has sacked it. Maybe they will be headhunting me now!
In reply to DH3631: Steady on old chap....
The Fort might not be Venetion in it's architectural style but all Dave's points hold firm. With more that a lifetime's worth of world class winter climbing, mountain rock, cragging, bouldering, hillwalking and running on the doorstep you can't deny that it's an awesome place to live if the outdoors is your thing, and with the addition of the training wall at Kimber's it's even better now.
I lived in the Fort for a year and a half (now in Aviemore for work) and definately miss the ease of access to high quality cragging and boulders.
In reply to DH3631:
I'd also have to say steady on! I lived in the Fort for the Winter and Spring, I have seldom seen more beautiful sunrises and sunset than those from Glen Nevis and on The Ben. Nobody in their right mind would move to Fort William for the town, you move there for the surroundings.
The shear number of top quality boulder problems and trad routes, not to mention possibly the best F8b in Scotland (Stolen), means it's hard not to head outdoors when the weather is good. In early Spring bouldering up the Glen was so pleasantly peaceful, I'd seldom see another soul until the evening.
That said there is definitely an active scene, all of whom are friendly and welcoming, from the guys at OB at Loch Eil, folks from the Coe and the Fort Bill residents (including Dave - ok ex-town resident now).
The Calluna Wall is an excellent wee training venue if you have any imagination and the Ice Factor bouldering wall has the best 45 board I've seen North of the border.
Contrary to DH3631, I was without doubt at my strongest just when I left Fort Bill, thanks mostly to the top quality bouldering in Glen Nevis, and helped not-a-little by the super-psyched local crowd.
Dave maybe fails to mention Fired Art, NevisSport Cafe, and Cafe 115, all three of which are located on the high street providing reasonable coffee and cake, where you can usually find a climber or two if the weather is rubbish. If it's only drizzling, head up to the top carpark and go for a run through upper Glen Nevis, it'll make you realise what an awesome place you're in, not to mention work off the cake. DH3631, sounds like you could do with trying this a bit more often?!
In reply to UKC Articles: Nice article Dave, by the sounds of it you could sell double glazing to a Gypsy
I lived and worked in Fort William for a while and I detest the place. I could be wrong but I think Dave has been lucky he hasnt experienced the worst of the weather that place can get, hopefully he wont and the climatic cycles are kind to him.
Outwith the relatively small outdoor scene the locals are on the whole an unpleasant bunch and wouldnt know outdoor pursuits if it hit them in the face. Alcohol, drug abuse and violence are the preferred activty of Fort Williamites. A fact not helped by the issue of 'problem' families being moved there from the 'less salubrious' schemes of glasgow. I hear other villages like Kinlochleven and Glencoe are suffering a similar problem. The industrial nature of the fort has also resulted in relatively large movements of people and with the extremely aggresive decline in these same industries you have the associated social problems such declines cause.
I think the area clearly suits Dave as a pro climber and he is a macleod afterall so probably thrives in an environment of rain and midge and it is extremely well positioned, but to any unsuspecting folk whose life doesnt revolve around climbing then they should be warned about some of the less attractive 'features' of Fort William.
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