Scotland, our first trip together part 5: The West Highland Line (also known as the Harry Potter Line)

Back in 2013 I was planning on making a trip to Scotland with a colleague as we were both fascinated by travelling by train and where interested in making one through the birth nation of trains. We decided to head through England all the way up north to the rugged terrain of Scotland. Unfortunately the colleague I was planning this trip wasn’t able to make the voyage and this is where Timothy came into the picture. Even though he just joined the company and barely knew me, he took the plunge when I asked him to join me on a trip to Scotland. Little did we know this would only be the very first chapter in a whole range of travel adventures together.

After our tour of Edinburgh the day before it was once again time to board a train and continue our rail trip around Scotland. First we boarded one of the frequent shuttle trains between Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street, at the time still operated by diesel trains nowadays this line is electrified.

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In Glasgow Queen Street we boarded the train that would take us the rest of the trip all the way up North to Mallaig via Fort William along the West Highland line. Older class 156 sprinter units are used, they are not equipped with air-conditioning but have opening hopper windows. Despite looking pretty basic they perform the job well and the seats are actually surprisingly comfortable. Remember to reserve your seats in advance as the trains can get quite busy and you do not want to be standing for the entire trip.  While there is a trolley service provided onboard to sell you food and drinks, it is a wise idea to bring your own supplies for the long trip.

The line twists and winds its way up across the Scottish highlands, often crossing very remote regions where there is no living soul in sight. The sights are breath-taking at both side of the train, and you will not get bored looking out of the window throughout the trip.

You also cross one of the highest points on mainline UK railways at Corrour summit at 411 metres above sea level.

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The most famous part of the trip is the stretch between Fort William and Mallaig, where the famous Glenfinnan viaduct is featured in the Harry Potter movies where the Hogwarts Express operates across it.

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We crossed the section twice the same day, as we initially travelled all the way north up to the quiet fishing town of Mallaig before returning south to the slightly more vibrant Fort William to spend the night.

Fort William is a nice small town, mostly used as a base to explore the highlands as it’s close to Ben Nevis. The next morning we returned south to Glasgow, one last time enjoying the scenery of the West Highland Line.

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We adored the views we had on the line and we would like to travel on it once more, preferably using the Caledonian Sleeper this time.
Have you travelled on the West Highland Line and what was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!

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