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Fort Augustus

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Fort Augustus

Loch Ness

 

 

Fort Augustus, or Kilchuimen, originally named Cill Chuimein after Saint Cummein, Abbot of Iona who established a church in Fort Augustus in the 6th century, lies on the south west end of Loch Ness. It is well worth stopping over for a couple of hours to taste the delights of this very pretty village.

 

What to do in Fort Augustus:

 

Park yourself in the main car park on the north side of the swing bridge next to the Tourist Information Centre. Parking is free off season and very cheap in season. A two or three minute walk takes you to the central feature of Fort Augustus - the Caledonian Canal with it's five locks transferring vessels from Loch Ness 15.5m above sea level to Loch Oich at 32m. Each lock can raise or lower a vessel 2.4m.

On the road up beside the Canal is the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre. A small museum with displays of how the canal was built. Free admission.
Open Spring & Autumn, five days. Summer daily 10am till 5pm
Tel: 01320 366493

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Clansman Centre Heritage centre of the Highlanders in reconstructed turf house. Traditional clothes worn by very enthusiastic and knowledgeable Highlanders who show you how their forebears lived in the 17thc. Well worth a visit (even if only to be kitted out in a proper kilt!). Also armoury made by the owner.
On A82 in centre of Fort Augustus (next to swing bridge)
Open
April to October, seven days a week, from 10am till 6pm
Tel: 01320 366444/07798761456

 

Highland Rare Breeds Croft. See Highland cattle, red deer, rare breeds of sheep and fowl. Up the path next to the river bridge.
Open March - Oct. Mon-Sun. 10-6pm.
01320 366433

 

The Great Glen Way runs through Fort Augustus. Arriving from the south you'll enter by the canal side.

 

Fort Augustus once boasted a railway, sadly this closed for good in 1946. You can still see the old bridge pillars over the River Oich. The station was where the school is today, rails going over the canal and river cutting over the main road at the far end of the car park and down to the lochside and the pier.

 

Cruise Loch Ness. Go aboard the Royal Scot at Fort Augustus. Trips last about an hour and go part way up the Loch. Refreshments. 3D sonar. Indoor and outdoor seating.
Leave from the swing bridge (2 mins from car park)
01320  366277

 

There are gift shops, a small shop for your provisions, excellent butcher, pubs & restaurants and a petrol station that doesn't stay open terribly late. Walk beside the canal for a few miles or there are some pleasant wooded and river-side walks about 2 miles out of Fort Augustus. Heading north go past the car park, first left and next proper left and left again at the fork. You'll come to the Forestry Offices.  Park and walk. Follow the coloured walks.

 

 

Looking towards Ben Tee

The Caledonian Canal and River Oich both run into Loch Ness at Fort Augustus.

 

Fort Augustus Abbey is closed. See below for details.

 

History of Fort Augustus:

The old burial ground.

 

Drovers bringing cattle from the west and east converged at the village before heading south over the Corrieyairack Pass on their way to the trysts at Crieff and Falkirk.

 

In the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising of 1715 and 1919, General Wade was appointed as commander of the forces in North Britain. At that time there were no roads in the Highlands north of Dunkeld and between 1724 and 1733 General Wade's troops constructed some 400km of hard road and 40 bridges to link the barracks at Fort William, Fort Augustus and Inverness, Ruthven with Crieff and Dunkeld to the south. There are remains of his roads in many places - e.g.. about a mile out of Fort Augustus on the south side the mile-long straight is known as 'Wade's Mile'. In 1715 General Wade built the first fort as part of a chain of military controls between Fort William and Inverness, a remaining wall can be seen in the grounds of the Lovat Arms Hotel car park. Work on a better and bigger fort by the banks of Loch Ness started in 1729 - the village was then renamed Fort Augustus after William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland (known locally as Butcher Cumberland), one of the sons of George II.

 

In 1745 the Jacobite cause was revived when Princes Charles Edward Stuart raised a Highland Army. Fort Augustus fell to the Prince after only two days siege, when an artillery shell blew up the gunpowder magazine of the fort. Victory was short-lived when the Jacobites were massacred by Cumberland's army in the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Major reconstruction of and extension of the Fort started in 1747.

 

The Fort was sold to the Lovat family in 1867 and they passed the site and land onto the Benedictine order. An inspiring Abbey building was constructed incorporating the walls of the old fort. In 1919 The New Abbey School opened but sadly this disbanded in 1993 and in 1998 it also closed as an Abbey and the monks dispersed. It has passed into three different hands since then and is now under major reconstruction and to be sold as luxury apartments.

 

There is  small island just off the A82 on the north side of Fort Augustus called Cherry Island. In 1908 Dom Odo Blundell, a monk at the monastery borrowed diving equipment from the canal engineers to investigate the island. It was revealed that this was the foundation of a crannog, bronze age lake dwelling. There are also possible crannogs in Loch Oich but they are not seen unless by boat.