If you are a fan of Harry Potter, in our opinion, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is the number one Harry Potter spot in Scotland, and is a MUST see. It was such a magical moment for us seeing the Jacobite steam train going across the bridge and we thoroughly recommend a visit here, even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, the viaduct is pretty impressive in it’s own right. The scenery surrounding the viaduct is simply breath-taking too. If you’d like to know more about the Glenfinnan Viaduct then please read on!
What is a viaduct?
Viaducts are a form of bridge that cross over large distances. They may be used in both rural and urban areas, and they are most commonly used to carry roads over long stretches of land or deep valleys.
The term viaduct comes from the Latin word via meaning “road” and ducere meaning “to lead.” A viaduct is so called because it leads through a valley via a series of arches, or pillars, that support the roadway above the ground level at intervals along its length.
A viaduct is typically composed of large spans that are built to support heavier loads than typical bridges would need to bear. The spans may be composed of steel trusses, iron girders, reinforced concrete beams supported by steel rods; or combinations thereof.
What Is the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a railway viaduct in Glenfinnan and the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland. The famous Jacobite steam train runs over the bridge. The Glenfinnan Viaduct played a starring role in the Harry Potter films, with the Hogwarts Express chuffing along the bridge. The viaduct features in three of the films – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Does the Glenfinnan Viaduct Have a Historic Backstory?
The viaduct was designed by John Fowler and built in 1897-1899 for the North British Railway to carry trains from Ballachulish to Mallaig.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct was constructed by the engineer Robert Mcalpine who was knighted for his achievement. It is an astounding 380m long.
It was constructed as part of a major upgrade to what became known as the Great North of Scotland Railway in order to provide access southwards from Glasgow and Edinburgh via Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen; it opened for trains on 1 October 1901.
Where Is the Glenfinnan Viaduct Located?
The Glenfinnan Viaduct is located in Glenfinnan, Lochaber, Scotland. The address is A830 Rd, Glenfinnan PH37 4LT.
How To Get to the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
There is parking on site at the Glenfinnan Viaduct visitor centre. It cost us £6 to park there all day at the time of writing this post. From the car park there is a short walk to the viaduct, around 30 minutes at most, depending on how fast you walk. The walk is not too strenuous at all.
Is There Accessible Parking Available When Visiting the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
There is accessible parking at the visitor centre but as mentioned, there is a walk to the viaduct which is not really accessible for anybody with walking difficulties.
Do You Have to Hike to Reach the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
Yes – there is around a 20 – 30 minute walk to the viaduct from the visitor centre car park.
When is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
The Glenfinnan Viaduct can be visited all year round, but the best day to go would be a sunny clear day so that you get the best views (which can be difficult in Scotland!) The train comes twice a day at around 10:45 and 15:10. We recommend getting there at least 30 minutes before that to get a good spot to see the train on the bridge as this is a spot that attracts thousands of visitors and it gets extremely busy. Visiting in off-season is recommended if you want to beat the crowds.
What Should I Pack If I Plan on the Glenfinnan Viaduct?
We recommend taking some midge spray with you as we were there on a sunny day and there were lots of midges about, especially if you get there early and you will be standing around for a while waiting for the train to come. Also, if it is a warm sunny day then you may want to wear suncream as the sun was really beating down on us whilst we were there, and perhaps sunglasses and a sun hat.
On the other hand, it does rain more days than not in Scotland, so the weather could change at any moment so if the forecast says rain then it is also best to wear waterproof clothing to prepare for this.
You will want to take some water for the walk and also a camera, because if you’re anything like us, you’ll be taking lots and lots of photos! If you have a wide zoom camera lens then we recommend using this to get some good close-up photos of the Jacobite train.
How To Incorporate the Glenfinnan Viaduct into Your North Coast 500 Route?
The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a little further south of the NC500 in the west of Scotland and is very easy to incorporate into your NC500 route if you have the time to explore a little further.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct was one of our favourite things that we did in the whole of Scotland. For any Harry Potter fan this should be top of your list of things to do in Scotland and we can’t recommend it enough.
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