I had wanted to travel by train in Scotland for about the last four years, having read somewhere about how beautiful the journey would be. The Jacobite Train is a steam train which runs from Fort William to Malliag and back, I decided it would be the perfect journey to find out if train travel in Scotland really liked up to the hype.
For anyone who doesn’t know the Jacobite Train is the train they used in the first two Harry Potter films. Due to this, the train ride is extremely popular and hard to get tickets for at short notice. I think I was one of very few people who hadn’t actually seen the Harry Potter movies, although my boyfriend had made me watch the train scene several times before hand.
We arrived early that morning, at 9.27 to be precise – the Fort William train station was actually still closed when we arrived. A queue had formed outside of the door with other people as keen as us, luckily within a few minutes the door was opened up and we headed towards the platform with out train on. It seems like most of the passengers that day also had the same idea and the platform was packed. Everyone wanted their photo taken with the front of the train, or in the drivers cabin – the pushing and shoving seemed a little endless but then I guess that’s what happens when you do something touristy. Eventually everyone got their photographs and started to board the train. There were two first class sections: the whole of coach A and a section in coach D which were compartments just like in the Harry Potter film. As you can imagine these sections were rather pricey! We had opted for the standard ticket and were located in coach E, when we sat down not many people had boarded but within 10 minutes our coach was completely full.
At 10.15 am we set off for Malaig, we had been given a leaflet with times of when we would arrive at certain spots including the famous viaduct. We settled in to our seat with the anticipation building in our stomachs. I was so excited for the viaduct crossing but soon began to realise our seats were actually on the opposite side of the train. The rest of our the journey so far had, had a similar feeling with all of the good views being on the opposite side of the train. Just as we approached the viaduct everyone shot to the opposite side of the train and I had no hope of seeing anything. I promised myself on the way back I’d be better prepared for it.
We quickly arrived at Glenfinnan station for a 20 minute stop, too short to head off on any of the walks we ended up back on the train after 10 minutes. The rest of the journey to Mallaig passed in a blur of beautiful views – the Scottish landscape, islands in the distance and very blue sea. We pulled in to the station at Mallaig just before 12.30 pm and everyone descended into this small town.
Mallaig was nice, a small town with beautiful blue sea and views for miles. The harbour was busy when we arrived with a ferry just leaving town and half the train exploring the area. We headed off in a different direction and found a bit of peace along with some beautiful views. After a while we thought we best get lunch before the train left again. The Tea Garden was too busy to find a table so we ended up with a fizzy drink and ice cream from the corner shop. The weather had come good and we sat by the water enjoying the sun before it was time to board the train again. We found our seats – different to on the way – and soon realised we had the same view as on the way. I made a mental note to grab a window for the viaduct.
I made several trips up to the open windows of the doors on the way back, sticking my head out on several occasions to feel the wind blow through my hair and give me such a strong feeling of being alive. On the way back I knew what to expect, where the views were good and when the viaduct was coming up. Typically everyone else had the same idea to grab a window before the viaduct but the lovely man already there said we could share the window and all get some images, I was pretty happy with that!
We arrived back in Fort William around 4pm. I loved the train ride: the views were incredible, the viaduct stood up to the hype and the classic steam train made it all the more fun. Although it is a bit pricey I thought the experience was certainly worth the money.
Essential Information: A standard ticket cost £34.50 plus £3.50 booking fee. On the way back the train cannot turn around as there is no turntable in Mallaig so pulls the train backwards, because of this one side of the train is better for sitting than the other – however you cannot pick sides to sit. There is food and drink available on the train for purchase as well as a little shop.