Blog / Why I Don’t Recommend Riding the Jacobite Train

Why I Don’t Recommend Riding the Jacobite Train

Well, at least not right now.

As a huge Harry Potter fan, I cannot tell you how excited I was when I purchased my tickets for the Hogwarts Express!

Now, I was aware of the fact that Covid-19 was screwing things up a bit… as it had most things. I also knew that if it hadn’t been for the virus – I probably would not have been able to get the tickets in the first place.

Every time I had tried to get tickets before, they had always been sold out.

At this point, I had been traveling across Scotland quite a bit. For the three days previous, I had been driving around the Isle of Skye hiking the Old Man of Storr, the Quirang, and other amazing locations.

On my way back from Skye, I decided (since I had the daylight available) to stop over in Glenfinnan so that I could take in both of the most famous aspects of this train ride.

I am so glad I did too because it ended up being my favorite part!

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a must see for any one (not just Harry Potter fans). There are two different trails you can take, and depending on how far you want to hike, you can make your way to several different platforms in which to get the fabulous sweeping views of the viaduct and railway.

It was overcast and the rain was drizzling down, but I didn’t care! It was fresh, beautiful, and I was in a good mood!

The night before my trip was the first night I had slept in a bed and had been able to shower. So, when I got to the train station the next day, I felt bright and shiny new! I had stayed at a lovely Airbnb there in Fort William and was really hoping for good enough weather that I could truly enjoy the scenery I knew we would be passing.

After boarding the train, I have to say… I was almost immediately disappointed.

I will say this: I think I had my expectations just a little too high.

Being a Harry Potter fan, I have read all of the books and watched all of the movies multiple times. I was excited for the closed in compartments and the trolley filled with sweeties – but that is not what I got.

You can (for an extra price) pay for your own compartment. The tickets however are already a steep 46 pounds sterling which is just over 63 American dollars.

If you want first class, you are going to pay almost 95 dollars a ticket.

If you want the compartment… well, thats about 212 dollars for two people. For me, that was just too darn steep for what I was getting.

The windows were dirty and so covered with condensation that the only way I could see out was by standing up and peeping through the small portion of the window that opens at the top.

From my journal:

“There is some sun this morning although still enough cloud cover to mask the distant hills. It’s nice to sit and watch the world pass with more intention. After being forced to keep my eyes trained to the road ahead, I’m able to simply sit and stare. The loch waves and ripples, rolls up and over and onto the seaweed-covered rocky shore, a perpetual coming and going.

The fishermen leave their boats buoying out about 100 metres or so. I wonder… they must use a rowboat to get out to them instead of docking them.

The windows of the train are old, scratched, dirty and agonizingly hard to see through. I wonder why they don’t replace them. It’s an expensive trip and an extremely coveted one. Harry Potters train to Hogwarts. I would say it would be a justified upgrade and important.

The sun blasts past the clouds and straight into my eyes, it beams across the water making it glisten white and silver before making its way in through my window – forcing me to squint and shield my face. It doesn’t take long for a nearby cloud to cross over and hide it away again.

I’m more in love with autumn than I ever was. From the deepest to the lightest greens, cheerful yellow, gleaming gold and bronze, burning amber. The lush green ferns have turned to copper and marigold and they fill the space beneath the trees with flowing swells, a rust-coloured sea on land.

I love the sun for the way it makes the world sparkle, the seas shimmer, the leaves twinkle as they rustle in the breeze. It even makes my eyes shine and my hair glow. “

Despite my disappointment in the state of the train, I focus on my gratitude for having the chance to take it.

The trolley served us tea, no sweeties. Darn.

Thank goodness, I had packed my own lunch!

We departed Fort William just after 10am and arrived in the small coastal town of Mallaig close to 1230.

In Mallaig, we got more than enough time to explore. I found a small Harry Potter store, but didn’t find much to purchase (I’m saving money anyway). There are a few restaurants and ice cream parlors. I got myself a soft serve ice cream with my favorite chocolate flake… sweet tooth handled!

It was too cold and windy to truly enjoy and once I found out that there were other attractions around Mallaig, I was wishing for my rental car so that I could explore them.

Getting back to Fort William at 4pm, I departed the train knowing that the best part of my whole trip was the conversation I got to have with the lady and her son who sat across from me. (I love meeting new and interesting people).

I looked it up… and found that I could have taken the same trip from Fort William to Mallaig for just under 14 pounds (19.22 USD).

Well, now I know.

So, what do I wish they would have done differently?

They could have decorated and they need to replace their windows at a bare minimum.

What would I have done instead?

Packed me a small Harry Potter snack of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans and a Butter Beer and went to watch the train pass over the Viaduct in Glenfinnan. I could have even driven over to Mallaig and explored there, too.

Either way, super grateful!

Love to you all!

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