Author J.K. Rowling was traveling by train when the inspiration for Harry Potter came to her, and the train motif has carried along throughout her series in the form of the famous Hogwarts Express. What few people realise is that the Hogwarts Express is actually a functioning steam train, running through the Highlands of Scotland as The Jacobite Steam Train.
One of the most famous locomotives in history, steam engine number 5972, named ‘Olton Hall’, and is powered by a Hall 4-6-0 steam engine, pulling 4 cars or carriages behind. This lovely steam engine, and other carriages used in the film, were provided by the West Coast Railway Company. Olton Hall was built in 1937 in Swindon, and was one of 330 locomotives created by designer Charles Collett.
Although filming occurred in several locales, the most memorable scenes were shot along the route where the Jacobite Steam Train runs. In fact, the most notable scene was shot with the Hogwarts Express crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a few miles from Fort William. Filming was done at King’s Cross railway station, at North Yorkshire Moors Railway, on board the train itself, and most importantly crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Glenfinnan Viaduct has 21 arches, follows a curving path for 416 yards, and is 100 feet high. At the time of construction, it was the only concrete built viaduct the world had ever seen! Combining Harry Potter notoriety with the incredible views of Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel make the viaduct an attraction all its own.
The Hogwarts Express plays a key role in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In it, Harry meets Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, later to become his best friends, on his first trip in the Hogwarts Express. Much like many British boarding schools prior to 1950, Harry is put on the private train at the beginning of the semester and met again at the end of semester by his family (aunt and uncle). Other notable characters having scenes on the train include Neville Longbottom, Remus Lupin, Luna Lovegood, Draco Malfoy, and Horace Slughorn.
The Jacobite Steam Train is part of the West Highland Line or Iron Road to the Isles (Gaelic – Rathad Iarainn nan Eilean), which runs from Glasgow to Mallaig, and itself travels between Fort William and Mallaig weekdays from mid-May to mid-October, and weekends in June and July. Although the actual engine will not be 5972, the train is very much like that used in Harry Potter, and travels the route across the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
In 2008 it departs Fort William at 10:20, arriving in Mallaig at 12:25. Its return journey departs Mallaig at 14:10, arriving in Fort William at 16:00. Fares along the Fort William to Mallaig run range from £16.50 for a child standard round trip ticket, up to £43.00 for an adult first class return.
Reliving the Harry Potter magic by taking a trip on Hogwarts Express is a grand day trip. However, many would like some photos of the train while crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It crosses near the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre about 11:20 and 15:00, though times may vary by several minutes, so plan ahead. The Glenfinnan Visitor Centre is just down the road from Fort William along the A830, and is readily accessible by bus or automobile.
The Jacobite Steam Train journey is one of the finest in the world, despite its brief 84 mile run. Its route is spectacular, passing many impressive sites in the region. These include Britain’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis, its deepest freshwater Loch Morar, shortest River Morar, deepest saltwater Loch Nevis, and most westerly railway station on the mainland at Arisaig. Stations along the route include: Banavie, Corpach, Loch Eil, Glenfinnan, Lochailort, Beasdale, Arisaig, Morar, and Mallaig.
Other scenic beauty along the way includes Inverlochy Castle, The Great Glen, Caledonian Canal and Neptune’s Staircase. Then there’s the view from Arisaig, where on a clear day, one can see the small isles of Canna, Eigg, Muck, and Rum, as well as portions of the Isle of Skye. There is always the possibility of seeing Morag, the lesser known sea monster, which resides in Loch Morar according to legend (Nessie has always been more popular). Silver sandy beaches seen in the movies Local Hero and Highlander are also along this route.
Although most widely known thanks to Harry Potter fame, the Jacobite Steam Train, or Hogwarts Express is a wonderful adventure, allowing travelers to explore and see many of the finest sites in the Highlands of Scotland. The journey begins in Fort William!
Featured Bed and Breakfast listings in and around Fort William
Featured – Tigh-a-Ghlinne bed and breakfast, close by the town of Fort William, with marvelous views of the Caledonian Canal and Ben Nevis, has all the comforts needed by the weary traveller. Not only is this delightful bungalow set in a rural location, but is also close by for a restaurant and pub.
email: firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel: 01397 712578 – to visit this site, click the picture
Double, twin and en-suite facilities, breakfast in either the dining room, kitchen or, weather permitting, the breakfast-decked area. Use of kitchen, a guest lounge with books, hifi, dvd player and wifi is included.
Fantastic hospitality! How all B&Bs should be! See you on our next trip to Scotland.
Address: North Road, Fort William, PH33 6TQ
Featured – Inverlochy Villas, being the Fort William B&B closest to Ben Nevis, offers spectacular view and remarkable amenities including breakfast in bed. Reasonable rates, and first class service.
We recommend spending some time with hosts John and Adrian, who have a good many stories to share about the local area, recommended sites to visit, and those to avoid. Make your stay complete with a complimentary nightcap, a lovely whisky from the nearby Ben Nevis Distillery.
loved the breakfast in bed, really felt spoilt this trip to Scotland, will be back!
Address: Station Road, Corpach, Fort William, PH33 7JH
Featured – Gorgeous 3-Star B and B in Fort William! Kildonan is just 3 minutes from train station, bus stop, and major attractions, yet off the main roads for peace and quiet as well.
Be sure to check out the website for great offers, photos of the rooms and common areas, and contact information for Kildonan Fort William Bed and Breakfast.
fabulous attentive hosts, very clean and neat accommodation.
Bracarina Bed and Breakfast
Address: Bracarina, Mallaig, PH40 4PE
no reviews yet
Fassfern Bed and Breakfast
Address: Achintore Road-Gordon Square, Fort William, PH33 6RQ
Fassfern Bed and Breakfast is a lovely Victorian stone villa just a couple of minutes walk from the heart of Fort William. All rooms are en-suite and priced very competitively considering the splendid views of Loch Linnhe and the Ardgour Hills.
no reviews yet
Forest View B&B
Address: 24 Wades Road, Kinlochleven, PH50 4QX
Tel: 01855 831302
no reviews yet
Glen Albyn Lodge
Address: Glen Albyn Lodge, Invergarry, PH35 4HL
An outstanding Bed and Breakfast Home – Located in Invergarry “The Heart of The Highlands” – The perfect tour base for seeing all that is best in The Highlands.
no reviews yet
Address: Riverside Road, Kinlochleven, PH50 4QH
Tel: 01855 831777
no reviews yet
Searching for the perfect place to stay near Fort William? Our Lochaber Accommodation directory provides a listing of all the places to stay. These include Bed and Breakfasts, Camping, Caravans, Guest Houses, Hostels, Hotels, and Residential Care Homes.
INFO….. ADD ME – f your business isn’t listed, but does serve the Lochaber Region, or if you would like to get listed here, then please use the ADD ME link and we will be glad to assist.
Places to stay in Lochaber range from a Spartan mom and pop guest house, to four star hotels, generally being priced accordingly. Fort William area accommodations are plentiful, though booking early is recommended, as tourist season is quite busy.
Things to do …. When coming to the Highlands of Scotland, there are a great many reasons to stay in Fort William. Being central to many of the popular sites is just one good reason. All within a short drive include the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, Ben Nevis, Neptune’s Staircase, Mallaig, Morar, Harry Potter’s Hogarwarts Express, the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and much much more.
Where to stay .... Nearly all Fort William Bed Breakfast accommodation offers a taste of what the Highlands are all about. See the Bed and Breakfast, Hotels, Self-catering and Hostels pages. Hosts are frequently long time residents of the area, with delightful insights and stories about what is happening in the area, and reflect the personality of the region.
Fort William is strategically located in the Western Highlands of Scotland, approximately half-way between Glasgow and Inverness. It is small enough of a town to not suffer the big city traffic and issues, while large enough to have plenty of shopping and choices for dining and accommodation.
Bed and Breakfast choices located in Lochaber, either in or near Fort William, and are definitely worthy of consideration in making accommodation choices.