Enjoy History and Mountain Hikes Near Glenfinnan
Glenfinnan is a hamlet at the head of Loch Shiel in the Lochaber region of the Highlands. It’s an area rich in history, wildlife, and natural beauty. It’s also famous for its sweeping viaduct, which was the location for filming the prominent scenes in the Harry Potter franchise. However, there are some beautiful walks and challenging mountains nearby as well.
The area is also known for its association with the Jacobite Rising, and in 1815, an 18 metre high monument was erected to commemorate the clansmen who died fighting for the cause of Prince Charles ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ Edward Stuart. Today, you can learn more about the history of the area in the Visitor Centre.
The viaduct was constructed between 1897 and 1898 by the Sir Robert McAlpine Company, and has a span of 1000ft, its 15 arches reaching 100 ft above the River Finnan at the highest point. It forms part of the West Highland Railway between Fort William and Mallaig, and is noted for being constructed entirely of mass concrete with no steel reinforcements.
At one time the viaduct was a vital rail link for the Highland fishing industry, although now it is largely a passenger heritage line. Taking the Jacobite steam train across the viaduct is a favourite tourist attraction in the summer months, with passengers enjoying some of the most spectacular scenery the UK has to offer.
Harry Potter fans will also recognise the location from the Hogwarts Express scenes in the film versions of Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and this has no doubt contributed to its popularity and fame over the past 20 years!
However, the area is perhaps best enjoyed on foot. There are woodland walks around Loch Shiel and also more challenging hill walks that afford excellent views of the viaduct, loch, monument, and surrounding landscape. The Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail is a walk of 2.5 miles with a few steep climbs, mainly on well maintained paths.
For those who want to test their mettle with a longer and more difficult mountain hike, there are several Corbetts (Scottish mountains of a height between 2,500 ft and 3,000ft ) nearby to choose from. Beinn Odhar Bheag and Beinn Mhic Cedidh are often tackled together to make a day long hike of six to seven hours in summer walking conditions.
These mountains lie to the west of Loch Shiel and are a little off the beaten path, so if you want to escape the more touristy areas they are a good option. However they are still easily accessible by road and rail. The terrain can be challenging with ill-defined paths, so it’s necessary to brush up on your navigation skills before setting out.
Needless to say, along the way you will be able to enjoy stunning views and will observe first hand some of the most unspoilt areas of wildlife and natural beauty in the country.
If you would like some information about guided mountain walks in the UK, please get in touch today.