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Lochaber

Centred around Fort William at the southern end of the Caledonian Canal, Lochaber has the highest mountain in the British Isles in Ben Nevis at 4406 feet. A few miles north of Fort William at Aonach Mor, the views of the Ben and surrounding countryside from the top of the cablecar are breathtaking, whether seen in winter as a skier, or in summer as a tourist.

But much of the interest for visitors to the region is the history associated with it - mostly from the time of the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and '45. At Glenfinnan a statue of a highlander marks the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie began his attempt to regain the throne of his Stuart ancestors. In Fort William itself, the West Highland Museum contains the secret portrait of the prince, which can only be viewed in the reflective surface of a bottle or other cylindrical object.

Glencoe is the scene of a less glorious part of Scottish history, where the Campbells supposedly slaughtered forty of their Macdonald hosts to repay their hospitality. The order for the massacre is said to have been written on a playing card - the Nine of Diamonds - known since as the 'Curse of Scotland'. However, more recently this myth has been reviewed - this from our correspondent, Paul Williams.

"The massacre was not carried out by Campbells. It was carried out by regular British army soldiers acting on the signed orders of William III. The officer in charge was a Campbell, but the soldiers came from all over the UK. Blaming it on the Campbells was a neat bit of government spin to calm down the uproar in London when the scandalous story of the massacre came out..

It is one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the British army, redeemed somewhat by the actions of some individual soldiers who warned their intended victims and two officers who risked courts-martial by refusing to obey orders.

You can check the details in John Prebble's excellent book, Glencoe: The Story of the Massacre."

Glencoe and Aonach Mor are both centres for winter sports as well as hillwalking and climbing all year round.

One of the most picturesque stretches of railway in Britain is that from Fort William to the fishing port of Mallaig. British Rail run occasional steam trains on the line in the summer.

         

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