Ahhh, Harry Potter. Who doesn’t love the books/movies! Like many of you did, I grew up with this story. I have yet to go to the Universal Studios in Orlando to experience Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. But I did take a trip on the Hogwarts Express through the Scottish Highlands! Read on to hear all about it.
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The train and how to get there
The Hogwarts Express is actually called The Jacobite and is owned by West Coast Railways. They changed the sign for the movie and then filmed the train as it was on the move. This means that if you book a ticket, you are actually going on the same route the train would take to Hogwarts! As if this wasn’t awesome enough, the journey itself is pretty amazing, too, because the Scottish Highlands are absolutely breathtaking. So even if you’re not a huge Harry Potter fan, a trip on the Jacobite is absolutely worth it!
You will actually not start off from Platform 3/4 at King’s Cross (because that would be a pretty long trip), but from a small town called Fort William. I did this with a friend who lived in Glasgow at that time and her parents who had rented a car, so we drove there. The great thing about going by car is that on the way, you can also stop by the location they filmed and edited Hogwarts into! If that’s not an option for you, you can simply take a train or a bus.
The train doesn’t run all year round, so be sure to check when you can go here. Do reserve tickets in advance to not miss out on the fun, because they sell out fast! If you book a roundtrip, the entire thing will take you a whole day, especially if you still have to go back to Glasgow. Once you start off from Fort William, be sure to have your camera ready and look out the window to see and record the landscape in its full glory.
About halfway through, you will pass the Glenfinnan Viaduct, overlooking Loch Shiel. This is the famous arched bridge the Hogwarts Express crosses in the movies.
Then you will take a short stop in the actual town of Glenfinnan, where you can have a quick look at the West Highland Railway Museum. And on the journey goes, all the way up to a beautiful place called Mallaig Bay. We walked around, checked out the museum, the habour and the seagulls and had some delicious scones and tea. If you didn’t book a roundtrip, you can either stay there or continue on to the Isle of Skye. I haven’t been there yet, but it sure is on my list.
After about two hours, you will board the Hogwarts Express, I mean, Jacobite, and make your way back to Fort William. One more chance to get those beautiful pictures in! Or you go on an exploration tour and find the cabin Hermione met Ron and Harry in. Remember this scene?
As seasoned Harry Potter fans, of course we spotted it right away.
We also had some Bertie Bott’s Beans, but that was a rather disgusting experience. Jelly Beans tasking like Earthworm? Never again!
After getting back to Fort William, you could make your way to your next destination, or, like we did, drive back to Glasgow. But not before getting out of the car and taking a few last beautiful shots of the unique Scottish landscape. It really is like a dream, especially when the sun comes out.
I can only recommend this experience and will I probably do it again whenever I plan to make it up to Skye (but that could still be a while). Have you taken the Hogwarts Express yet or plan on doing so? Tell me about it!