When I walked around Edinburgh with Darina she told me about this “Harry Potter train”, an old steam train that crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct (like in the movies) and passes many filming locations not only from “Harry Potter” but also “Outlander” and “Game of Thrones”. I didn´t get that train out of my mind, put it on top of the bucket list and to be honest it was kind of my excuse to travel to Scotland during the summer. (As you would need an excuse..)
There are different compartments like second class, first class and first class “Harry Potter Style”, which I picked – I just love to ride in style!
There is also a little “Harry Potter gift shop on board. But even if you´re not interested in that wizard-stuff at all, the train ride from Fort William to Mallaig is one of the most scenic train journeys alongside Loch Eil, Glenfinnan Viaduct and Arisaig.
The route is also the same shown in the Harry Potter films. The company running the Jacobite service provided Warner Brothers with the train used as the Hogwarts Express in all of the movies and allowed them use of the Jacobite’s route for filming. The locomotive used to pull the Hogwarts Express in the films, the GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall, is presently located at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden and can be seen during studio tours. (Wikipedia)
The Jacobite Train starts from Fort William and ends 41 miles later in Mallaig.
The Mallaig Extension of the West Highland Railway opened in 1901 and was operated by the North British Railway. It was intended to help open up this rural and remote part of the Scottish Atlantic coast, and the building of the line was heavily subsidised by the British Government. It became part of the London and North Eastern Railway at the Grouping in 1923, and British Railways at Nationalisation in 1948. (Wikipedia)
Regular Steam Train services ended in 1967. In 1984 British Railways reintroduced a Steam Train on part of this route to boost tourism and called it the “West Highlander”, later renamed to “The Lochaber”.
After the privatisation of the British Railway, the licence for this route was granted to the West Coast Railway Company and they started their service in the summer of 1995 under the name “The Jacobite”.
The image above shows the Glenfinnan monument shortly before the Glenfinnan Viaduct. My seat was on the aisle side so I didn´t see the viaduct but I made that up on the way back.
A longer stop at the Glenfinnan station, to shop at the Harry Potter gift shop in the train and to visit the Glenfinnan Station Museum or just look around the station. There is also an old Dining and Sleeping Car, which I have to try out next time.
We´re approaching Mallaig – hello again! This was already my starting point for Skye. The train stopped for around one to two hours in Mallaig which I spent just sitting at the harbour. Had to take in as much sea as possible before going back to Vienna.
Wouldn´t that be the perfect place to write, relax and just switch off?
Meeting the afternoon train at Glenfinnan station. That was my clue to get out on the aisle and watch the train ride from the window in the door.
The first view of the viaduct and I´m not the only one peeking out of the window.
About an hour later we arrived back at Fort William and I spent my last hours walking around the town and boarded the Caledonian sleeper back to London in the evening.
And I can´t wait to go back to Scotland!