We stayed at Glen Nevis Campsite for three nights after completing the West Highland Way. The site is just a short, signposted detour off the Way so instead of walking into For William – which is just a couple of miles away and the end of the West Highland Way – we pitched our tent at Glen Nevis then finished our walk after a shower, and without our packs which left us free, and clean, to enjoy Fort William (and a celebratory drink!). Here’s a photo of our tent; there’s a site rule that says you can’t pitch within four metres of anybody else and as you can see this is observed. You can also see how scenic the surrounding area is. Ben Nevis is to the right of the photo, topped with a little cloud.
We traveled to Loch Lomond, where we started our walk, from London on the Scotrail Caledonian Sleeper (http://www.scotrail.co.uk/sleeper) which is worth the mention as it’s head and shoulders above any other mode of transport between the two places, in our opinion. You leave London late, have a bite to eat in your cabin, maybe a few drinks, then wake up in Scotland, refreshed and ready to start your holiday.)…
Location - The campsite is about 2 miles outside of Fort William, which can be reached by train (on the Caledonian Sleeper direct from London if you wish; we got off at Glasgow but it does continue to Fort William), car, bus or boat. The main trail up Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak, begins less than a mile away from the site (we could see the peak as we lay in our sleeping bags. As you come along the West Highland Way from Kinglochleven there’s a signpost indicating you go left to Fort William and right to the campsite. The site is about ten minutes walk from here.
You can also get to Fort William from the Isle of Skye via the excellent Jacobite steam train. This train ride, well know to fans of the Harry Potter films, offers amazing views. We travelled to and from Skye on this; if you want to do the same be aware than it’s a popular ride so best to reserve tickets well in advance.
Reception and Check In - Check in was quick and easy. We’d reserved in advance so they had our pitch details sorted and we were in and out of the reception area in minutes. For those who hadn’t reserved in advance reception it was a slightly longer process as they had to fill in an arrivals form.
On the walls of reception were bus timetables, leaflets advertising local tourist activities and also the all important mountain weather forecast.
The campsite shop next door was well stocked and well priced. They had a decent range of local beers, vegetarian foods (Linda McCartney and Quorn) and also plenty of foods that will appeal to trekkers, such as energy bars and trail mix. They also had midge nets, and even Avon Skin So Soft (which is a moisturizer, but also a far more effective midge repellent than anything else available).
The final thing to mention regarding food is the fast food wagon that is open every day, next to the shop. We’d been wild camping for five out of the previous eight nights and cooking over the stove during that time so it we really enjoyed not having to cook for a few nights. The food here was of a decent standard and fairly priced, for instance, a large chips, enough for the two of us, was about £2.
Here’s a short film I made on arrival. It’s not meant to be a glossy promo video, just an honest look at what you’ll find at the campsite if you stay there.
The Pitch - We pitched in ‘The Deer Field’, a five minute walk from reception. The only rules here were that you couldn’t pitch within four metres of any other tent and that there had to be absolute quiet at night.
We loved this rule and most others did too, it seems. Only a very few people – usually young lads in red trousers from the English Shires – insisted on waffling way into the night, captivating Katie and Sadia with tales of the rather testing time they had in Klosters when Ollie forgot Mummies credit card and they had to survive on supermarket food for a week (the poor loves) and the much better time than have when they wear their school tie whilst hitch hiking (“It helps, Katie, rairley, it does…”).
Here are a few snaps of the campsite giving you an idea of pitching options.
The Facilities - Every camping field has it’s own shower block, we never had to wait for a shower cubicle to become free. The showers stay on for a long as you need them to (they’re not the sort to cut off every 30 seconds) and the cubicles offer a large space in which to get dressed in private.
The showers are free, as are the hairdryers and there are also free charging points in the toilets as well as in the laundry room and reception. This was great for us as our phones needed charging every day (we were uploading photos we’d taken during the walk so this took a lot of power) and we’d also exhausted our camera batteries whilst on the West Highland Way.
Talking of phones, mobile reception on the site is ok. I could make calls from the tent area but to get better wifi I had to be near reception. If you’ve no wifi on your phone and want to buy some online time, reception can sell you that.
Here are some more photos of the shower block facilities.
Other Facilities – Attached to each shower block is also a laundry and pot washing room. There are free irons and the washing machines cost £3 per load, with tumble driers costing £1 a load.
At the far ends of the site there are areas to exercise dogs.
We reckon that Glen Nevis Campsite is a great choice for hikers and families. If you have a car you can drive very near to your tent, the facilities are excellent, you’re very near to areas of great beauty and whilst dogs are very welcome, noisy parties are not (thankfully!). The staff are also very friendly, the shop is well stocked and the fast food van is of a high standard. There’s loads of space on site too so even in high season, they should be able to find a pitch for you. Best to reserve if you can though, especially at weekends.
To discover more, please visit http://www.glen-nevis.co.uk/