Aqueduct in Lochaber and Fort William
The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a railway viaduct, with 21-arche,s on the West Highland Line in Glenfinnan, Inverness-shire, Scotland, built from 1897 to 1901. It is the largest railway bridge in all of Scotland. The world famous ‘Jacobite Express’ train is quite possibly the most beautiful and scenic train journey anywhere. Although now synonymous with “The Harry Potter Bridge” the viaduct is spectacular in its own right. The train route runs for a stretch of 41 miles, starting at Fort William and ending at Mallaig, and passing such spots of scenic beauty as Loch Eil, the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Arisaig.
Where is the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
Located at the top of Loch Shiel in the West Highlands of Scotland, the viaduct overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument and the waters of Loch Shiel. The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a 30-minute drive west of Fort William, situated just off the main road (A836).
Parking at Glenfinnan Viaduct
To the east of Glenfinnan village there is a visitor centre with a car park and visitor centre for the Glenfinnan Monument. If you are coming to see the Train allow plenty of time to get parked as the car park is closed when full, for safety reasons. If it is full you can try carrying along up the road towards to village, there is another larger car park on the right of the road and a free public carpark off the next road turning to the right.
Best places to photograph the Glenfinnan Viaduct
There are two viewpoints:
East of the River Finnan
The closest to the centre is a quick 5 minute walk, starting just behind the visitor centre. From the rise you are perpendicular to the Viaduct and can see it curve around the valley. This viewpoint best to capture the train as it is on its return journey to Fort William.
West of the River Finnan
If you want to get a better photograph of the train coming towards you, you will need to walk along the road, towards the village, across the river, and take the next road to the right, where there is an overflow carpark. Head towards the viaduct, walk past some farm buildings on the right continue for 5-10 minutes before you reach it there is a sign pointing to the left onto the viaduct trail and viewpoints. You’ll then reach a fork of two rocky trails next to a tourist information sign, one continues straight, the other forks right, underneath the arches of the viaduct. Take this one on the right. Go through the wooden gate that’s on the trail just underneath the viaduct. Walk up the switchback track until you reach the top of the hill.
When is the best time to See the Train in 2022?
The Glenfinnan Viaduct train times are very regular so it’s easy to plan your schedule around the train times over Glenfinnan Viaduct. The Harry Potter, Jacobite steam train only runs between April to October. It runs a morning and afternoon service.
Fort William to Mallaig
In 2022 the morning service departs Fort William at 10.15 am and the afternoon service departs Fort William at 2.50pm (2.40pm on Sat). Check the West Coast rail website for the dates when the season is due to start and end each year. The train passes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct approximately 30 minutes after departure from Fort William. It should therefore arrive at the viaduct at 10.45pm in the morning and 3.10pm in the afternoon.
You can also see the train as it is on its way back to Fort William. For a good photograph you will need to be at the first viewpoint to the east of the River Finnan.
The viewpoint does get busy in the peak season months and finding a place to stand can be difficult so allow plenty of time. Time allowing the train slows as it goes over the viaduct to give its passengers a view of the valley from the viaduct.
Mallaig to Fort William
The morning and afternoon trains both return the same way so there are two additional opportunities for you to see the train crossing back over the viaduct. The best place to take a photograph of the train returning to Fort William is the viewing point to the East of the River Finnan. The time the train passes would be 3.20pm for the Morning train and 7.50pm for the Afternoon train. Again it it advisable to arrive in plenty of time.
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Visiting Glenfinnan Viaduct
Glenfinnan Visitor Centre and Monument View Carpark
2 Jan–3 Apr, daily, 10.00–16.00
Current period4 Apr–4 Nov, daily, 10.00–17.00
5 Nov–23 Dec, daily, 10.00–16.00
24–26 Dec, closed
27 Dec–30 Dec, daily, 10.00–16.00
31 Dec–1 Jan 2023, closed
Monument: Adult £5, Chile £3, Car Park: £3.5 Views of Viaduct: Free!