Glenfinnan Viaduct Trip – Famous Harry Potter Bridge

Glenfinnan Viaduct Trip – Famous Harry Potter Bridge

A Magical Journey Through the Scottish Highlands

You know that feeling when you build up an experience in your mind, only to have it fall short in real life? That’s exactly what I was worried about when it came to visiting the Glenfinnan Viaduct. But let me tell you, the moment I laid eyes on that iconic stone bridge, my worries melted away – it was every bit as magical as I had dreamed.

As soon as I caught a glimpse of the billowing steam in the distance, I practically squealed with excitement. The Jacobite steam train came chugging through the valley, tooting its horn as it slowly made its way over the 21 stone arches of the viaduct. All the kids (and a few adults!) on board were waving enthusiastically as the train passed by, before disappearing behind a nearby hill.

I have to admit, I felt a pang of regret that we hadn’t built in more time to explore this area. After spending a week road-tripping through the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye, we were on our way back to Glasgow and only had about an hour to spare at the Glenfinnan Viaduct. But even in that short amount of time, I was completely captivated.

“I’ve only felt this kind of magic in a few locations around the world: this place, the South Island of New Zealand, all of Japan, and Versailles.”

As we walked closer to the bridge, my heart started racing – the weathered stone stood timelessly against the backdrop of rolling green hills and rugged mountain peaks. It was the perfect fusion of natural beauty and human-made wonder. I could have easily spent the entire day just wandering around, exploring different viewpoints and taking it all in.

In fact, I loved it so much that I ended up purchasing a beautiful sterling silver ring with a Celtic symbol for eternity from a local Jacobite craftsman. I like to think I took a little piece of that magic home with me.

Bringing Hogwarts to Life

Of course, as a die-hard Harry Potter fan, I was over the moon to be standing in the same spot where the Hogwarts Express chugged across the famous viaduct. The real-life Hogwarts Express, officially known as the Jacobite steam train, only runs a couple of times a day during peak season. Unfortunately, our tight schedule didn’t allow us to ride the train, but that didn’t make the experience any less special.

“One reason I love to travel is that sometimes, very rarely, you feel that sense of magic. You feel a sense of awe, and wonder, and romance that strikes you at your core.”

Even without the train, there was still so much to explore and discover at the Glenfinnan Viaduct. From the stunning views of Loch Shiel (which stood in for the Great Lake at Hogwarts) to the charming Glenfinnan Station and its restored railway museum, it was like stepping right into the pages of my favorite book.

Getting to the Viaduct

Now, I’ll admit – finding our way to the viaduct wasn’t the easiest task. We started off at the Glenfinnan Visitor Center, but quickly realized that the hiking trail they recommended didn’t actually take us to the bridge itself.

Loch Ness Shores has a great map that shows the different viewpoints and access points. What you’ll want to do is walk out of the main visitor parking lot and continue down the road for about 100 meters. You’ll see a smaller, more private road on your right – take that one and follow it for around 15 minutes. This will lead you right under the viaduct, where you’ll have the perfect spot to take in the bridge and wait for the Jacobite train to come chugging across.

There are a few other viewpoints worth exploring as well. If you keep walking up the trail on the east side of the viaduct, you’ll get a stunning panoramic view of the bridge and the surrounding landscape. And the Glenfinnan Visitor Center has a nice overlook, though it’s not quite as close to the action.

Timing Your Visit

The Jacobite train’s schedule varies depending on the season, but generally there are two services per day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. You’ll want to plan your visit accordingly to make sure you don’t miss the train.

During the summer months (June to September), the morning service departs Fort William at 10:15am and the afternoon service is at 12:50pm. In the shoulder seasons (April, May, October), there’s usually just the morning service.

To give yourself plenty of time to find a parking spot and get to the viewpoint, I’d recommend arriving at Glenfinnan at least 30 minutes before the train is due to cross the viaduct. That way, you can soak up the atmosphere and get your camera ready for the big moment.

Even if you miss the Jacobite train, the viaduct itself is still an absolute stunner. Surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the Scottish Highlands, it’s the kind of place that just fills your heart with wonder. And who knows – if you time it right, you might even spot a certain flying Ford Anglia zooming through the sky!

So if you find yourself in the area, be sure to add the Glenfinnan Viaduct to your must-see list. It’s a magical piece of both Scottish and Wizarding history, and an experience you’ll never forget.

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