Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel
It is one of the most famous images in Scotland and one certain to cause of jump of the heart for Harry Potter fans. Glenfinnan and the stunning view over Loch Shiel are the Scottish Highlands at their dramatic best. Historically significant as the starting point of the final Jacobite rising it is now also the highlight of one of the world’s great train journeys aboard the Jacobite Steam Train.
In 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie landed for the first time on the Scottish mainland near Glenfinnan and announced to his followers his intention to re-take the Scottish and English thrones. The iconic 18 metre Glenfinnan Monument commemorates this famous moment in Scottish and British history. Outlander has of course brought a new wave of interest in the story. The monument can be climbed (it is a bit tight up top, be warned) and is an excellent start or end point for further exploration of the area. The kilted Jacobite warrior joins you up top in admiring the fine panorama. For more on the area check out this blog where I teamed up with Caledonian Light for a photography tour of the area.
The famous steam train route between Fort William and Mallaig crosses the iconic 21 arch viaduct at Glenfinnan and is of course the journey taken by Harry on his way to school. One of the advantages of travelling to Glenfinnan outwith the steam train option though is the ability to wander and take this scenery in at your own pace. Climbing to the vantage point behind the NTS Visitor Centre brings you to this, one of the most photographed vistas in all of Scotland.
Additionally there is a viaduct walk that gets you up close to the famous tracks on which the train chuffs along a couple of times a day. This trail starts opposite the turnoff to the Glenfinnan House Hotel where there are parking spaces. Follow the main path on foot until just before the viaduct and then turn left following the sign for the Station Museum. Within minutes you will have superb views over the whole of the Glen. You can continue on following the path to the Museum which takes a detailed look at the history of this train line. There is also the option here of food in the quirky setting of a converted train cabin. The trail takes around an hour and is well pathed but steep in places.
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Harry Potter for real!! Wow, this place looks awesome