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.
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.
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.
The monument was erected in 1815 in memory of the clansmen who died supporting the Jacobite cause.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pin for later:
* I was gifted a NTS Family membership for the purpose of this post, however all opinion are my own.