Earlier this year we headed out on The Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig. Often described as one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world, our journey on this historic steam train did not disappoint.
The steam train journey along the West Highland Railway is very popular so we made sure that we booked early in the year to secure two first class seats on our chosen date in mid June. Over the peak summer months there are two return journeys each day, departing at 10:15 and 14:30 from Fort William. The journey to Mallaig takes two hours and ten minutes including a 20 minute stop at the historic Glenfinnan station. We had an hour and 45 minutes to explore the small fishing port of Mallaig before embarking on our return journey to Fort William.
We caught the 10:15 train departing from Fort William on a Sunday 18th June. Fully loaded with fresh scones, clotted cream and strawberries, we left Mingarry Lodges at 08:30, allowing us plenty of time for the scenic drive to Fort William, and to enjoy the 'steamy' atmosphere at Fort William railway station. We parked at the long stay car park at An-Aird behind Morrison's supermarket which cost £2 for the day and is a very convenient for the station.
Arriving early allowed us plenty of time to imbue the magic of the steam train experience and take photographs of the iconic locomotive and its carriages. The Jacobite offers three types of carriage; standard class, first class and the traditional first class compartments (as you may have seen on several Harry Potter films). We can highly recommend the First Class carriages if seats are still available.
On leaving Fort William the steam train crosses The Caledonian Canal on the swing bridge below Neptune's Staircase and then passes along the shores of Loch Eil and into the hills of Moidart. At Glenfinnan Station the train stops for 20 minutes allowing you chance to visit the museum and the old signal box.
Soon after leaving the station the train passes over Glenfinnan Viaduct, a highlight for many Harry Potter fans. The best photographs can be taken from windows at the rear of the train, though you can be sure there will be lots of keen photographers with the same idea. Our seats on a table for two in first class carriage were on the left hand side of the train so we had amazing views through our a wee window as we passed over the viaduct. Saying that, the first class experience is more about relaxing and enjoying the luxury of a bygone age than just snapping photos.
From Glenfinnan, The Jacobite passes along the southern shores of Loch Eilt. Watch out as the train passes by the small isle of Eilean na Moine, the final resting place of Dumbledore. The train then passes Our Lady of The Braes in Lochailort, featured as the church in the film Local Hero. Finally through Glen Beasdale, Arisaig and Morar arriving at the picturesque fishing port of Mallaig in time for lunch (or afternoon tea). You have over 90 minutes in Mallaig before the return journey to Fort William so there is plenty of time for lunch, a walk or maybe even a wildlife cruise. We can also recommend the fish and chips...
The journey is very popular so we would recommend booking early and well in advance of your holiday. If your chosen dates are booked there is always the option of hopping aboard the regular Diesel train service between Fort William and Mallaig. Just as scenic and another great day out from Mingarry Lodges.