My Trip to Glenfinnan
I first visited Glenfinnan several years ago and I immediately fell in love with it. So I was incredibly excited to be heading back up to there again. The small area of Glenfinnan is located in the Southern Highlands of Scotland, beside Stirlingshire, on the West Coast. One of the many filming locations for Harry Potter, it's the perfect place to go for any aspiring witch or wizard!
If you're travelling from Edinburgh or Glasgow, you're looking at around a four hour trip. Of course, this can take longer if you want to look at the beautiful sites you will see on the way. For us, this included the many dozens of lochs (Scottish lakes), and the famous Three Sisters Mountains, located at Glencoe; the site of the massacre that inspired the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones. You could certainly make an entire day out of making your way to Glenfinnan.
Right before we arrived we drove through the town of Fort William which is situated at the base of Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain. Again, you could spend a fair bit of time just exploring this small town. It's also probably the best place to stay for the night if you're looking for a longer trip.
Once we arrived in Glenfinnan the beauty of it was already evident; rolling mountains on the right, and a sprawling loch (Loch Shiel) on the left. There's a visitor centre car park as soon as you enter Glenfinnan, however it's incredibly small (they are actually currently building a larger car park that's better fit for demand). You're likely to get a space if you arrive very early in the morning, but at any other time of the day, expect to park on the side of the road. If you are arriving by car, I recommend getting there as early as you can to avoid any stresses. The visitor centre has a small gift shop and cafe; it's a good place to stop for coffee and a bathroom break, but I wouldn't allocate longer than five minutes there.
We began by taking the short hiking path beside the visitor centre up to the viewing point. While this was steep and difficult to climb due to the uneven surface, it only takes around five minutes to reach the summit. This point provides stunning views over the lake from one side, and the famous viaduct from the other. As it's one of the best points for picture taking, it tends to be quite busy, but it would be a lovely place for a picnic if you got a quiet day.
After taking some glorious pictures, we made our descent back to the visitor centre, before walking along the main road to our next turning point. This lead us along to the base of the viaduct. Any Harry Potter fan will instantly recognise it from the infamous scene in The Chamber of Secrets where the flying car swoops around the railway bridge. It's so intimidating up close; it's a real feat of Victorian engineering.
There are many walking routes to take from this point, but if you're visiting for the viaduct, simply follow the hill upwards to get you much closer to the train track. The Jacobite Steam Train goes over the bridge roughly twice a day; it's a great place to get pictures!
At this point we walked back down the hill and made our way across the main road over to the beautiful loch. Again, Harry Potter fans will recognise this as the Black Lake that neighbours Hogwarts Castle. This area is used for many of the panning shots of the school in the film series; you can see the piece of land that Hogwarts sits on! It's a really cool experience! The Glenfinnan Monument also sits proudly here; a statue dedicated to those who died in the Jacobite Rebellion. There's some amazing history in this small space.
Again, from here there are many more walking paths to take, including one up to a beautiful little church, however our adventures were over for the day. All in all we spent about an hour and a half in Glenfinnan, but you could certainly take a half day to enjoy the scenery. We drove our way back to Fort William, where we enjoyed a really nice lunch from Garrison West. Famed for its seafood, this cosy little restaurant was a real hit (although I'll admit I did not go for the seafood option)! And then from there we made our way on the long but beautiful journey back home.
And so that was my trip to Glenfinnan. I highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in that corner of the world, but particularly to anyone doing a Scotland road trip. It's one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and it's obviously a fantastic place to visit for Harry Potter fans like myself! If you've visited any Harry Potter filming locations, where have you been?
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Until next time,