The long, narrow valley of Glenfinnan, leading into the vastness of Loch Shiel, is one of my favourite places in Scotland. Situated on the main “Road to the Isles”, between the well-known tourist destinations of Fort William and Mallaig, the valley was the rallying point for “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and his supporters at the beginning of the Jacobite uprising of 1745. There’s a tall monument to the prince on the shores of the lake, just across the road from the visitor centre.
A fifteen-minute walk takes you to the semicircular railway viaduct of the West Highland line; made famous in recent times by a starring role in the Harry Potter films. Jo and I walked up and beyond the viaduct to get a clear view back down towards the loch and found our spot on a day this June when the weather wasn’t playing ball.
The next day, we chose to give the view another go and timed our visit to coincide with the twice-daily spectacle of the Jacobite steam train passing through. The driver (or fireman) is obviously well-used to playing to a crowd, as we – and a dozen or so other train buffs dotted across the hillside – were treated to the scene pictured here, when the train let out a long, loud whistle and produced a drawn-out blast of steam. Enough to give any visitor with a love of views like this chills, and well worth tromping up a steep hill covered with boggy mud and wet heather to get to the viewpoint we’d found.