Glenfinnan (Gleann Fhionnainn) is the stop for the iconic “Harry Potter” viaduct, and the Glenfinnan Monument to highlanders who followed Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 Jacobite campaign.
There are two hotels with restaurants in the village. The National Trust centre with the Glenfinnan Monument is located 1 mile east of the station at the head of Loch Shiel.
The station building contains a railway museum, a camping coach and the “Glenfinnan Diner”, which serves refreshments and meals in summer. Both coaches are parked in the station sidings (refer to picture above left). The Museum is an award winning must visit site. You can visit the website here for more information, or access from the sidebar.
There is much to see and do at Glenfinnan and the ScotRail service timetable provides plenty options for a visit to the nearby Glenfinnan Monument, the associated National Trust for Scotland visitor centre and cafe, or to take longer walks up the glen, passing under the viaduct. There are great opportunities for hill walking and climbing for those with the appropriate knowledge and skills. The above mentioned camping coach is particularly popular with hill walkers and makes an exciting alternative which children reallly appreciate.The Jacobite steam train calls at Glenfinnan in summer (and in recent years before Christmas and New Year in winter – ref. Mark Fieldings picture) and enough time is provided for passengers to visit the museum and purchase souvenirs and literature about the West Highland Lines and their history..
As mentioned above, perhaps the most outstanding attraction, much heightened by the Harry Potter films and the Hogwarts Express, is the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct. Built in 1898 by Sir Robert McAlpine, as a mass concrete structure comprising 21 arches, it was an innovative civil engineering achievement when built. The Museum, with the aid of volunteers and grant funding has created a magnificent path which leads from the station up the hillside and provides excellent views across the viaduct and the surrounding spectacular scenery. Note that the terrain is wild and rocky so the path does require stout shoes or boots and care. Click on the pictures below to appreciate the scale and spectacular surroundings.
A winter view down Loch Shiel from near the railway. The Glenfinnan monument, standing at the head of the loch, commemorates the raising of the Jacobite Standard by Charles Edward Stuart at the start of the 1745 rebellion, the last civil war on British soil. Travellers on the ScotRail service trains can enjoy this view as they cross the Glenfinnan viaduct shown on the above pictures. Or you can add to the thrill of passing through this dramatic scenery and its associated poignant history, by travelling on the ‘Jacobite’ steam train from Fort William.
The highest point on the line between Glenfinnan and Mallaig is at Leac-a-Bhuidh, identified on the OS map as Creag Ghobhar (Goat Rock) where the line reaches a height of 361ft asl. The climb from Glenfinnan Station has a demanding start but the climb back from Mallaig is more sustained and starts from closer to sea level. At the summit the line passes through two tunnels under Creag Ghobhar. Click on the picture for a video of a steam charter tackling the gradient. A rare view since, unlike the ‘Jacobite’ train which runs tender first on the return journey from Mallaig, the video has the engine running boiler first.