Breathtaking Scenery on the West Highland Line
Widely considered to be the best rail journey in Britain, and voted Best Rail Journey in the world by the travel-savvy readers of Wanderlust magazine in 2009, the West Highland Line offers a leisurely way to explore the spectacular countryside between Mallaig on the west coast of Scotland and Glasgow in Scotland’s west central lowlands. The West Highland Line is one of two operating railway lines offering travelers access to the rugged remote west coast of Scotland, the other being the line connecting the Kyle of Lochalsh with Inverness.
The West Highland Line covers a distance of 264.3 kilometers between Glasgow and Mallaig and passes through or past a number of Scotland’s most scenic destinations. Upon leaving the ferry port of Mallaig the train travels via Morar, Arisaig, Beasdale, Lochailort, Glenfinnan, Locheilside, Corpach and Banavie before arriving at Fort William. In the summer months, this stretch of the route is traveled by The Jacobite – a steam locomotive-hauled train that is a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike. The line crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct used by the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter series of films. Fort William is the largest town in Scotland’s highland region, with only the city of Inverness being larger. It’s a major tourist centre and a good home base from which to explore Ben Nevis and other majestic Munro mountains, with the West Highland Way and Great Glen Way both starting and ending at Fort William.
From Fort William, the route travels through Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge and Tulloch before arriving at the west coast port town of Oban. Known as the “Gateway to the Isles”, Oban can be very busy during tourist season and has a host of attractions worth seeing, including the Oban Distillery, Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary, Dunollie Castle, Dunstaffnage Castle and McCraig’s Tower.
Stops along the route between Oban and Glasgow include Rannoch, set in the picturesque Rannoch Moor and popular with walkers, as well as Loch Awe – the third largest, and longest, freshwater loch in Scotland. The train enters Glasgow through the suburbs of Kelvindale and Maryhill, and through the Queens Street Tunnel to end at Queen Street station.