Glenfinnan Monument and Viaduct

Arisaig beach

We spent the weekend camping over on the west coast of Scotland near the village of Arisaig, enjoying the days by the beach and exploring the coast line.  However, this is Scotland and the weather isn’t always perfect, so on Saturday, when we knew rain was predicted for part of the day, we drove across to Glenfinnan to visit the monument there and the famous viaduct, which incidentally is the one featured in Harry Potter.

Glenfinnan monument

The Glenfinnan monument is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, which you can climb to the top as part of a guided tour.

We started our visit with a look at the small, but interesting display in the visitor centre, describing the lead up to Bonnie Prince Charlie’s ill-fated Jacobite uprising in 1745.  The boys were particularly interested in listening to the stories on the individual audio speaker phones, which is not surprising as they can’t read any of the writing yet.

Glenfinnan monument

When it was our time to to climb the monument we stood at the bottom awaiting our chance to climb up, looking at the writing around the walled gardens.  Inside the monument is a narrow spiral staircase, where you emerge onto a small platform beside the kilted highlander via a small hatch.  I had Mr A on my back up the stairwell, but made sure my husband was behind me so that he could help him off my back so we could squeeze through the hatch at the top.

Glenfinnan monument

The monument was erected in 1815 in memory of the clansmen who died supporting the Jacobite cause.

Glenfinnan mounment

The views were pretty stunning, looking down Loch Shiel and across to the viaduct, albeit rather windy on that particularly day.  However, it’s probably not the best place to climb if you are afraid of heights!

Jacobite steam train

Just before we headed down from the monument the Jacobite steam train appeared, crossing the viaduct, we managed to get a great view from our vantage point and then saw the second steam train going in the opposite direction once we had reached the path at the bottom.

Harry Potter train

Glenfinnan viaduct

Although the steam trains had already passed over the viaduct, we still climbed the small hill behind the visitor centre to get to the vantage point to properly take in the view of the viaduct and the view along Loch Shiel.

Glenfinnan viaduct

Loch Shiel Glenfinnan

It’s worth noting that if you arrive around the time the trains are going to pass the NTS car park will be full and you’ll need to find parking elsewhere and walk along the road to the visitor centre (there is a path). It also gets quite busy at the view point on the hill as everyone is keen to see the ‘Harry Potter’ train.

Glenfinnan viaduct

The Glenfinnan monument and viaduct are definitely worth a visit for the views alone, but add in the history and a bite to eat in the cafe and you’ll have a fantastic and educational afternoon.

Glenfinnan viaduct path

Pin for later:

Glenfinnan resource

J x

* I was gifted a NTS Family membership for the purpose of this post, however all opinion are my own.


  1. August 2, 2016 / 10:05 pm

    Oh you are so right, those views certainly make it worth a visit! Your first photo of the steam train is just fab, I love how you’ve captured the steam. My little girls would love this, there’s nothing more exciting than watching a steam train go past!

  2. August 3, 2016 / 7:30 am

    What a wonderful place to visit! I saw the Jacobite train this summer when I was stranded in Fort William thanks to a ScotRail strike. Such a gorgeous train! I’ve love to visit here one day (and not just because I’m reading the Outlander series!)

  3. August 3, 2016 / 8:21 am

    I love old viaducts and the fact that it was used in Harry Potter is amazing! The scenery is stunning too. We’re camping again at the end of August and we can’t wait. I’m still desperate to take the kids to Scotland soon. Sarah x #WhatevertheWeather

  4. August 3, 2016 / 3:15 pm

    Gorgeous scenery, even on a rainy day! It looks beautiful. How brilliant that you saw a steam train crossing the viaduct too, I’m pretty sure it’s the Hogarth Express 😉

  5. August 3, 2016 / 4:27 pm

    The scenery looks amazing! We’ve been on a steam train in Dartmouth recently – such fun for all of us! #whatevertheweather

  6. August 3, 2016 / 8:28 pm

    Ooohhh looks like a fun trip and I so love your photos here too! The view of the train passing by with the thick steam is so stunning!


  7. August 5, 2016 / 9:19 pm

    This has been on our list for ages! We really want to go see this. Maybe one day. Such beautiful scenery #whatevertheweather

  8. August 7, 2016 / 9:04 pm

    We visited the monument and viaduct a couple of years ago and I loved seeing your photos of the beautiful views. Such a fab place, I can’t wait to visit again with Finn. Next time we will have to time it so we can see the train (along with everyone else!) #whatevertheweather

  9. August 8, 2016 / 10:58 am

    Oh that looks like an amazing place to visit. And how cool to catch a glimpse of a train on the viaduct. My biggest would love it! #whatevertheweatherkids

  10. August 10, 2016 / 7:22 am

    Oh wow Harry’s Potters train! We are a bit young in this house for that at the moment but won’t be long. Maybe when we are we will make it up to your area? Love the bright raincoat too!! Thanks for hosting #whatevertheweather xx

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