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McCaigs Tower

McCaigs Tower

When was it built? Who built it?

OK, why does a town in the Scottish Highlands have a Roman style colosseum dominating the skyline and standing guard like some monolithic sentinel?

It's all thanks to John Stuart McCaig (1824 - 1902) who was responsible for it's construction over a five year period from 1895 until his death in 1902.


His idea was two fold - to keep local stonemasons employed during the winter months and to provide a lasting monument to the McCaig family. The original plan was that the structure would have a roof enclosing an art gallery, another central tower with statues of the family in prominent positions.

By the time McCaig died and having spent five thousand pounds - a considerable sum in those days - only the outer wall had been completed and he made provision in his will for one thousand pounds a year towards the completion of the project.

Surviving family members had other ideas for the money and the will was successfully challenged with the judge describing McCaig as "eccentric testator".

Personally I think that the tower as it is now with it's viewing platform, seats and well kept garden is a fitting tribute to such a philantropic victorian gent.

Up until around 15 years ago inside McCaigs Tower was just a tangle of weeds and discarded rubbish - many a game of 'cops n robbers', 'goodies n baddies' was played out there.

Luckily the local council had the foresight to develop the grounds and today it takes it rightful place amongst the most popular attractions in the area.

A popular spot with visitors and local alike, the walk to the top of the hill is rewarded with panaromic, breath taking views over the town and across the water to islands visible through the arched windows and from the viewing platform.

The tower stands approximately 220 feet above sea level. The wall has a circumference of 600 feet and at its highest point is 45 feet. There are two tiers of windows, 44 on the bottom and 50 above. Go count them yourselves, I got dizzy and could be wrong!

How to get there?
Easy - just keep heading up!

There are many ways to arrive there but the easiest routes are:-

On foot - from Chalmers corner on George Street head up Argyll Street, to the left of the Congregational Church start picking your way up the 144 steps of Jacobs Ladder. At the top turn left, a couple of hundred yards on turn right. If you can't find it from here then you're a lost cause!

By car - from the top Corran Halls rounabout head north (signposted Crianlarich / Fort William), 200m up the hill turn right onto Deanery Brae (Between Strathnaver and Kings Knoll Hotel).
At the bottom of the hill where 5 roads merge you need to take the 3rd counting clockwise and signposted Dalriach Road (Another giveaway is the large sign saying "McCaigs Tower"!). Obviously just follow the signs from there.

McCaigs Tower is floodlit from the front with the colour changed every so often to support one charity or another. This was taken from the inside on Winter Solsticw day 21st December 2017 at 4.30pm


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