All Aboard the Jacobite Steam Train!
During Scotland’s summer months the Jacobite Steam Train offers passengers a memorable journey through some of the most scenic areas in Scotland on a train that has been immortalized by the popular Harry Potter films as “Hogwarts Express”. Construction of the Fort William to Mallaig extension of Scotland’s West Highland railway line was started in January 1897 and completed in April 1901 – this is the route that the Jacobite Steam Train follows.
Starting off in Fort William near Ben Nevis, which is the highest mountain in Britain, the Jacobite Steam Train crosses the River Lochy where the ruins of the Inverlochy Castle can be seen on the eastern river bank. The train route continues along a flat area known as the Corpach Moss. Houses are on the left of the railway line and the spectacular Great Glen valley stretches out on the right. At the end of Corpach Moss, the train crosses the Caledonian Canal. To the left passengers will see Neptune’s Staircase – a series of locks which raise the canal to a height of 65 feet. Neptune’s Staircase was built during the Napoleonic Wars and is Britain’s longest lock gate system.
Situated at the meeting point of Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil, Corpach had the dubious distinction of being the stopover point in ancient times for the bodies of people of note which had been brought there by sea, before they were transported to one of the many important burial places in the region. Between Corpach and Glenfinnan, the Jacobite Steam Train crosses the historic 21-arch Glenfinnan viaduct, which Harry Potter fans will immediately recognize. It was at Glenfinnan that renowned Bonnie Prince Charlie raised the standard for the August 1745 Jacobite uprising. The Glenfinnan Railway Station Museum has fascinating information relating to the construction of the viaduct, as well as on the surrounding areas.
After passing Lochailort and Beasdale, the Jacobite Steam Train stops off at Arisaig, the most westerly railway station in Britain. There is a variety of wildlife in the area and beautiful views of the small isles of Rum, Muck, Eigg and Canna. The journey continues past Loch Morar, which is considered to be Britain’s deepest fresh-water loch, and the shortest river, River Morar, before passing the beaches that were used in scenes of the films “Highlander” and “Local Hero”.
Finally the Jacobite Steam Train reaches its destination at Mallaig next to Europe’s deepest seawater loch, Loch Nevis. Mallaig is a flourishing fishing community and also an access point to the Isle of Skye via the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry. The one and a half hour stopover in Mallaig before making the return trip, allows passengers time to explore this lovely town.
The 84 mile round trip on the Jacobite Steam Train is a lovely way to spend a day while enjoying the beauty and fascinating history of Scotland.