Glenfinnan Viaduct

Location type

Bridge

Name and dates

Glenfinnan Viaduct (1901-)

Opened on the Mallaig Extension (West Highland Railway).

Description

This viaduct is one of the highlights of the Mallaig Extension. It is much photographed both from the train and the surrounding land.

It is a single track viaduct of mass concrete on a curve. It has 21 arches and is 100 ft high. It is the longest concrete viaduct in Scotland at 416 yds. It is on the rise to a summit to the west, required by the climb up from Loch Eil past Glenfinnan to cross the high ground before dropping down to Loch Eilt. Without this climb such a large viaduct would not have been needed.

It was initially a striking white colour, considered a bit of an imposition on the landscape, but has darkened and mellowed looking more like weathered stone.

It is at the south end of Glenfinnan and crosses the River Finnan.

In relatively recent years, it has featured in the Harry Potter films.

The view of the viaduct from most directions is largely clear of trees and can be easily photographed. It is a short walk from the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre, or the even closer Glenfinnan Viaduct Car Park just off the A830 on the west bank of the Finnan (the road up to the viaduct is private). The hillock above the visitor centre affords a good view (the "Glenfinnan Viewpoint") and a longer circular walk can be had from the centre to the viaduct, then along the rougher hillside footpath to Glenfinnan station and back to the centre by either the A830 taking in the St Mary's and St Finnan's Chapel or via the minor road which drops down from the Prince's Hotel

Glen House, seen in older photographs and which sat to the north of the viaduct, no longer stands having been demolished in the 1970s.

13.65 miles from Banavie Junction [2nd].

Local

The Jacobite
This is a famous steam hauled train which operates in the summer between Fort William and Mallaig, running in addition to the regular ScotRail service.

Glenfinnan Visitor's Centre
This has a car park, is within a short distance of the Glenfinnan Monument and has a cafe, shop and toilets. It is possible to walk to the viaduct from here - initially by heading out along the roadside to a second car park on the west side of the River Fillan.

Glenfinnan Estate
The owners and managers of the estate which the viaduct and line cross.

Pottermore
The films made of these books made the viaduct even more famous than it already was.

The viaduct features in many artworks, including Rob Hain's Magical Glenfinnan .

The viaduct is seen in several films including IMDB - Glenfinnan Viaduct .

Tags

Viaduct Harry Potter scenic

External links

Canmore site record
NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67
NLS Map

Facilities

Listing: A




Nearby stations
Glenfinnan
Lech-a-vuie Platform
Locheilside
Lochailort
Loch Eil Outward Bound
Corpach
Fort William [1st]
Beasdale
Banavie
Fort William
Banavie Pier
Kentallen
Arisaig
Morar
Ballachulish Ferry
No 62 Tunnel
Leachbhuidh No 78 Tunnel
Leachbhuidh No 79 Tunnel
Tourist/other
St Mary and St Finnan
Glenfinnan Monument
Loch Sheil
Glenfinnan Pier
Sgurr nan Coireachan
Sgurr Thuilm
Gulvain - Gaor Bheinn: S top
Gulvain - Gaor Bheinn
Loch Eilt
Loch Eil
Tigh nan Saighdearan Barracks
Lochailort Inn
Location names in dark blue are on the same original line.


Glenfinnan Viaduct from a train


It is reached by train about 30 minutes after leaving Fort William. If you are planning to take a photograph from the Jacobite or a ScotRail train it would be advisable to find a suitable window much earlier, perhaps around Locheilside station. The viaduct can be seen from the left (when heading to Mallaig) side of the train.


Glenfinnan Viaduct on foot


By rail -

The viaduct is east of Glenfinnan station. There are two convenient walking routes to the viaduct.

The easier is to walk down the hill from the station and turn left onto the main road, follow the pavement downhill past the church and turn left before the road crosses the River Finnan (just beyond is the Glenfinnan Visitors' Centre) and follow the dirt road to the viaduct.

The other route is to use the scenic footpath which climbs above the station and east, past a viewpoint which looks out over the station, to approach the viaduct from above at its west end.

The two can be combined to make a circular walk.

By road -

The viaduct is north of the Glenfinnan Visitors' Centre and Glenfinnan Monument. There are two car parks - one at the visitors' centre (there is a nearby viewpoint above from which the viaduct can be seen slightly distantly) and another car park to the west, just over the River Finnan. A dirt road runs north east from the latter car park to the viaduct (the view is interesting from below, but you will not see the trains quite as well - see banner image above). A footpath runs from here to Glenfinnan station on the high ground above the railway, the first part of this affording a good view of the viaduct. For the more adventurous there are many good local viewpoints on the higher ground to the north west and east (which can be started by following the dirt road which crosses east over the River Finnan).

At the height of the summer the Jacobite runs twice a day and before and after this just once. See The Jacobite website.

The locomotive is not turned at Mallaig, so looks best on its outward journey.


Books


A Mallaig Boyhood (Flashbacks)
All Stations to Mallaig!: West Highland Line Since Nationalisation
Captains and Commanders: Memoirs of a Scottish West Coast Fisherman

Chapels of the Rough Bounds

Highland Steam: A Scrapbook of Images from the 'Kyle, Mallaig and Highland Lines

History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands: West Highland Railway v. 1

History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands: West Highland Railway v. 1

Iron Road to the Isles: A Travellers and Tourist Guide to the West Highland Lines

Iron Roads to the Isles: A Travellers and Tourists Souvenir Guide to the West Highland Lines

Landranger (40) Mallaig & Glenfinnan, Loch Shiel (OS Landranger Map)

Mallaig Line: An Illustrated History and Guide

Old Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig

On West Highland Lines

Railway World Special: Fort William and Mallaig

Railway World Special: West Highland Lines

Rannan Rathad Iarainn nan Eilean =: The West Highland Line
Steam to Mallaig
The Mallaig Railway
The Mallaig Railway: The West Highland Extension 1897-1901 (RCAHMS Broadsheet)
The Story of the West Highland

The Story of the West Highland: The 1940s LNER Guide to the Line

The West Highland Mallaig Extension in B.R.Days

The West Highland Railway

The West Highland Railway (Railways of the Scottish Highlands)

The West Highland Railway 120 Years

Walks from the West Highland Railway (Cicerone Guide)

West Highland Extension: Great Railway Journeys Through Time

West Highland Railway
West Highland Railway (History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands v. 1): West Highland Railway v. 1