The Glenfinnan Viaduct shows the way to Hogwarts. This iconic stretch of Scottish Railway is 100% real, no CG effect here, and ff the train track the Hogwarts Express runs along is real, surely Hogwarts is real no?
I’m not sure I should admit this at 28 years of age, but this isnt the first post surrounding Harry Potter that i’ve written on this blog, but I feel that this post along with the first is still worthy of a travellers blog.
Where, when and by who?
Located in the west Highlands of Scotland on the banks of Loch Shiel, the Glenfinnan Viaduct isnt just a site to visit for Potter fans, its much more than that. Built between 1897 and 1898 at a reported cost of around £18k, the 21 arch single track viaduct was considered an significant engineering feet upon completion. At 416 yards long, curved, and with the highest of its 21 arches standing at 100ft high, the viaduct was one of the largest engineering undertakings using concrete without reinforcement. Sir Robert McAlpine was the great man behind the design and build. Upon the announcement of the design and the plan to use concrete, objections were raised as to the planned materials and that concrete would ruin the beauty of the surrounding landscape … I dont think too many people would agree with that statement now. In fact such is the popularity and appreciation of the Glenfinnan Viaduct that it has been featured on a series of Scottish banknotes.
Did we see the Hogwarts Express?
In short, no. Whilst we arrived at the Glenfinnan Viaduct at the right time to see the a train, we soon realised we were outside the season of which the popular stream train ran. This was our view instead? I don’t think Potter, Granger and Weasley go this train, but you never know.
When Can I see the Howarts Express then?
Well you can see the train between the months of May and October. There are specific dates though so check the Jacobite website. The best times to see the train at the Glenfinnan Viaduct are 11am and 3pm. Arrive early to get a decent spot though.
Spot 1: From the Glenfinnan Visitors Centre simply head to the end of the car park where.
Spot 2: Exit the Visitor Centre and turn right. Cross a small bridge and turn right again onto a walking only track. This track leads you closer to the Viaduct than the Visitor Centre car pack and only takes 2-3 minutes walk.
Spot 3: Pass the Visitors Centre and head towards the Glenfinnan Train Station and Museum. From here there is a small trail that will take you towards the Viaduct at a more elevated level. This trail has come to be known as the Harry Potter Trail.
Better yet however, you can take a ride of the train if you’re willing to put up the cash. Travel the 84 miles from Fort William to Mallaig (or visa verca) and get views like this fella did …
At the time of writing the prices look a little bit like this for riding the train …
… it beats the underground.