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Just outside Fort William is a large aluminium plant, powered by the Lochaber hydroelectric scheme, in its day the biggest tunnelling project in the world. This was formerly served by the Lochaber Narrow Gauge Railway.
The waterfront development may not be started for several years. However, the town is booming. It is the new retail hotspot in Scotland. Aldi, Lidle, M&S, TK Max and many others have been linked with the town.
A new out of town retail development bringing a major DIY chain and at least five other national retailers.
The sawmill at Corpach is going across the road to the old pulp/paper mill site and doubling in size to make it one of the biggest in Europe.
The West Highland Line passes through Fort William. Owing to the difficult terrain in the area, the line from Glasgow, to the south, enters from the northeast and trains from Glasgow to Mallaig, the terminus of the line, have to reverse at Fort William railway station.
The Caledonian Canal connects the Scottish east coast at Inverness with the west coast at Corpach near Fort William.
Outside the town, parallel to the Nevis Range Gondola there is a large downhill mountain bike track, this attracts thousands every year, from international backgrounds. Alongside this, there are the "Witches Trails", which unusually attract more than the downhill track.
Each year since 2002, Fort William has hosted a round of UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, and in 2007 it hosted the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships ('The Worlds'). Also a trials competition is held, at the various courses at the bottom. The four-cross track is used and the Witches trails get used for the cross-country competition. The 2007 winner of 'The Worlds', in the downhill men's section was Sam Hill, with a time of Four minutes and Fifty-one seconds.
In a celebration of mountains and the culture that surrounds them, and in recognition of the importance of climbing and walking tourism to the town, the Fort William Mountain Film Festival is held there each year. For a number of years this volunteer led festival has concentrated mostly around film but, starting in the Year of Highland Culture - Highland 2007, its scope was widened, and it dropped the 'film' from its title. Fort William Mountain Festival website
Fort William has two major shinty teams, Fort William Shinty Club and Kilmallie Shinty Club.
The opening sequence for Warner Bros. 2007 film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was shot in Fort William.
Fort William is home to an Outward Bound Adventure and Activity centre. Schools such as St Benedict's Ealing visit annually. On 2nd June 2006 a fire destroyed McTavish's Restaurant in Fort William High Street along with the two shops which were part of the building. The restaurant had been open since the 1970s and prior to that the building had been Fraser's Cafe since the 1920s. The site is still empty in 2008 and the adjacent Grand Hotel has now also closed.
A controversial "Waterfront" development has been proposed by the Council though there is not overwhelming support for this in the town. The development will include a hotel, some shops and some housing but it was discovered early in 2008 that it is unlikely to be completed before 2020.
Fort William is the end point of the West Highland Way, a long distance footpath which runs 95 miles across the Scottish Highlands from Glasgow, and the start/end point of the Great Glen Way, which runs between Fort William and Inverness.
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