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West Highland Line

Last updated: 12 March, 2024

The railway from Glasgow to Fort William and on to Mallaig is rightly regarded as one of the world’s great railway journeys. From the moment the train climbs out of the Glasgow suburbs to give views over the Clyde, it is a scenic delight, taking in Loch Lomond, the wilds of Rannoch Moor, Ben Nevis, Loch Linhe, the famous concrete viaduct of Glenfinnan (featured in Harry Potter films) and culminating in glorious sea views.

The railway offers a unique perspective on many of the roadless landscapes en route. The wild landscapes have hardly changed since the railway was built in the late 19th century.

Logistics

Price from: £15
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: 4-5 hours

Getting there & doing it

Glasgow Queen Street is a short walk or bus ride from the better-connected Central station. A refreshment trolley is wheeled up and down the train throughout the journey.

The route runs from Glasgow to Fort William (3h 45mins, 123 miles) and then on to Mallaig on the northwest coast (a further 40 miles, 1h 30 mins).

When you get off at Mallaig, head to The Fishmarket Restaurant (Station Road, Mallaig) for big portions of fish straight off the boats that work from the adjacent harbour.

When to do it

Trains run all year round, seven days a week, with four services Monday-Saturday and two on Sunday.

The railway has been marketed as a ‘line for all seasons’, but the heather is at its best in late summer and autumn. Clear winter days can be among the most spectacular.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

5-Day Isle of Skye, Loch Ness and the Jacobite Steam Train from Edinburgh

  • Edinburgh

Explore the Highland beauty of Scotland's west coast and the Isle of Skye on a 5-day excursion from Edinburgh. This in-depth tour of Scotland’s classic locations includes visits to Stirlingshire, the Scottish Highlands, Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan Castle, Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield, plus a ride on the ‘Jacobite Steam Train’ — a mode of transport made famous as ‘Hogwarts Express’ in the Harry Potter films. Choose from 3-star guesthouse or hotel accommodation with breakfasts in Oban, the Isle of Skye and Inverness.

Price £1,155

Min age 5

Rating 4.80 / 5 [281 ratings]

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The Magical Highland Tour Including the Jacobite Steam Train Journey

  • Edinburgh

On this day tour from Edinburgh, you can see the Scottish Highlands, Glencoe, film locations and take a journey on the Jacobite Steam Train over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct. We travel directly for Fort William to board the Jacobite Steam Train for the greatest railway journey in the world, it's the perfect way to see some of famous movie spots. One of the most iconic images in the films is that of the Jacobite Steam Train known to us all as the ‘Hogwarts Express’ travelling over the Glenfinnan Viaduct. On arrival to the fishing village of Mallaig with its ferry route to the Isle of Skye (which you will get views of on a clear day) you will have a rest from location spotting to enjoy some free time in the village with many choices for lunch. From Mallaig you will again board the coach where we will have a stop at the Glenfinnan visitor centre for an excellent chance to photograph the steam train returning across the viaduct, before we return to Edinburgh via Pitlochry.

Price £165

Min age 5

Rating 4.6 / 5 [75 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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