If this breathtaking piece of engineering looks familiar to you, it’s because both the viaduct and the steam train that runs over it were featured in four of the Harry Potter films. That’s right, it’s the Hogwarts Express!
But you don’t have to be a ‘Potter head’ to appreciate the magic and majesty of Glenfinnan Viaduct; it’s simply breathtaking to behold and attracts visitors from all across the globe. It’s the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland and traverses a thousand feet over the River Finnan, one hundred feet above the ground, passing through some of the most atmospheric and unspoilt scenery you’re ever likely to see. It’s so iconic it was featured on the 2007 Scottish £10 note!
The big decicion is – do you take a trip on the train, or walk nearby and wait for that perfect photo-op! We highly recommend both…
Taking the Jacobite Express
This incredible steam train that doubled as the Hogwarts Express operates over part of the West Highland Line, running between Fort William and Mallaig making an 84 mile round trip.
There is a morning service and an afternoon service, in operation from the end of April to October (check with operator). Board at Fort William not far from us here at Ben Nevis Holiday Park and as well as passing over the incredible viaduct at Glenfinnan you’ll go by some incredibly scenic places including Arisaig, Loch Ail, Loch Morar, River Morar and Loch Nevis. The train stops for over an hour and a half in Mallaig so you can enjoy a good mooch around before the train heads back. We recommend taking the morning train then enjoying fish and chips for lunch at this busy fishing port.
Walking near the Viaduct
You’ll find Glenfinnan at the head of Loch Shiel which stretches south-west for 20 miles. There are a number of scenic walks nearby but the 4km Glenfinnan Viaduct trail is a great place to start and takes a couple of hours – add on extra time for a picnic! There is a car park at Glenfinnan just off the north side of the A830, right before the bridge over the River Finnan.
If you want to catch the train going over the viaduct, this only happens at 10:50am or 3:15pm so allow yourself plenty of time to get to a great viewpoint. If you’re lucky it sometimes stops for you to bag that magic snap.
While in Glenfinnan, history buffs might like to check out the Glenfinnan Monument and Visitor Centre, which commemorates the Jacobite clansmen who fought and gave their lives in support of Charles Edward Stuart, often called “Bonnie Prince Charlie”.