The West Highland Line is steeped in history and runs through some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Scotland. And that’s saying something! Pushing a railroad through, over and beneath these highlands was no easy task (you can read about it here), but it made for some amazing miles.
The Fort William to Mallaig route is an eighty-four-mile round trip. Fort William is the second largest town in the Scottish Highlands and rests at the base of Ben Nevis (Britain’s highest mountain) and Mallaig is a small harbor town of less than 1,000 residents that is the end of the tracks for the West Highland Line.
From Fort William, the Jacobite Steam Train crosses over the famous 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct overlooking the Loch Shiel and the Jacobite Rising monument. It is possible to stop at the Glenfinnan station, located just a walk west of the viaduct. A stop will allow enough time to visit the West Highland Railway Museum.
While the Glenfinnan Viaduct was locally famous – and vitally important to opening this rail line – it became a worldwide sensation after it was shown in the Harry Potter films. The Hogwarts Express used the route of The Jacobite, including panoramic shots of the Hogwarts Express lead by historic Great Western Railroad steam locomotive “Olton Hall” gently curving over the huge viaduct
Further on, the Arisaig stop is only possible by requesting a stop of the guard. Located at the center of the sheltered Loch nan Ceall shore, the tranquil village of Arisaig has boat rides in season, from The Sheerwater to the Small Isles. After more beautiful scenery, including several tunnels, our terminus of Mallaig is in sight.
Mallaig was founded in the 1840s as a fishing village by Lord Lovat. Currently, Mallaig is a busy fishing port and has ferry services to the Small Isles and Skye. Passengers get the chance to wander about, enjoying the amenities and scenery of the village with an hour and a half layover.
The Jacobite Steam Train runs during the summer season only, but has two trips scheduled each day. One trip runs in the morning and the other in the afternoon, yes, seven days per week.