After a quick breakfast at our loch-side hotel in Ft. William we were off to the nearby train station for the start of our second day in the highlands. This was when my brother and I came face-to-face with a very significant part of our childhood: The Hogwarts Express. In reality, this is an extension of the West Highland Railway that runs from Ft William to the coastal town of Mallaig. Dating back to 1901, this steam train was built to allow for easier access to the Scottish Atlantic coast. By 1967 all regular services were halted and steam trains would be replaced with modern locomotives. Nearly 20 years later, British Rail brought the steam train back to life to encourage tourism and generate income. For the next several decades the lined continued to operate under several different names, finally settling on The Jacobite as a nod to the local connections to Jacobite political events. I am sure that with the use of this line for the Harry Potter movies this train has experienced an incredible surge in activity. The company in control of The Jacobite actually provided Warner Brothers both with the train used as the Hogwarts Express for each of the films and with the Ft William – Mallaig line for filming.
The views from this journey are absolutely spectacular. Harry Potter fan or not, this is such a worthwhile trip and an amazing way to experience some of the more remote corners of Scotland.
In Mallaig we had the opportunity to spend about an hour and a half exploring the little town and grabbing a bite to eat (fish and chips, of course).
Then it was back aboard The Jacobite for our return journey to Ft William…
Back in Ft William, we began our journey back down to Edinburgh with a few stops along the way — including a chance to see that stark, gorgeous, eerie stretch of the A82 used in Skyfall when Bond and M drive up through the highlands to Bond’s childhood home.
Looking at these pictures again makes me seriously long to be in Scotland again!!! The highlands are like nothing I’d ever seen. If you ever have the chance to go definitely make time to see this if at all possible. The tour we took was hosted by Highland Experience Tours and we could not have asked for a better time.
Ahh, Scotland, you’re just so beautiful!