The Jacobite Steam Train

Written by Chris Thornton | 3rd of September 2021
Activities Highland Photography Train Journey
Greatest railway journey in the world

The Jacobite Steam Train Scotland offers you the chance for a romantic journey - this is a traditional train ride that covers many miles of beautiful countryside in southwest Scotland. You will see castles, mountains and wildlife as you travel through some of the most picturesque parts of Britain on one of the country's last remaining steam trains.

Currently operated by West Coast Railways the Jacobite Steam Train also known as the "Jacobean Train" has run every summer since 1984 from Fort William to Mallaig on the West Highland line.

Approaching Morar station - West Coast Railways

Fort William to Mallaig

Starting at Fort William the 42-mile route ends in Mallaig, taking in many sights on the journey including Loch Morar (the deepest freshwater loch in Britain), the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in Britain) and many small picturesque villages - Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort and Glenfinnan.

The Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel can be seen from the train while crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct.

Crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct

Fort William - The starting point

Welcome to Fort William, Scotland. This town is located in the southern Highlands of Scotland and sits on the western shore of Loch Linnhe at the foot of Ben Nevis.

Fort William is the second-largest city in the Scottish highlands Scotland. It was initially an army outpost built by William of Orange to deter Jacobite rebellions.

The train departs daily from Fort William railway station at 10.15 am and arrives in Mallaig at 12.25 pm.

Passing the Glenfinnan monument

The journey

The train passes through many railway stations - Britain's most westerly mainland railway station -Arisaig, before heading north to Morar railway station. Moror has beaches used in the filming of the films "Highlander" and "Local Hero".

Cream teas

There are nice cream teas services available on the trip but this must be preordered in advance and only for first-class passengers on carriage A. This includes sandwiches, scones with jam butter and clotted cream finishing with some great homemade cakes. Coffee and tea are available after.

Mallaig - The endpoint

Mallaig is a small town located on the stunning north-west coast of Scotland, and with its beautiful historic harbour, it’s easy to see why we like this place so much. The town has one main street that winds through to the waterfront area where you can find cafes, shops and restaurants alongside an abundance of holiday accommodation.

The harbour is a popular spot for visitors, and you can also catch the ferry from here to nearby islands such as Isle of Skye, Eigg or Muck.

You’ll find museums on subjects such as shipbuilding, fishing and the local heritage of Mallaig as a fishing port that are worth checking out if you have time between visits to other parts of Scotland. Traigh Golf Course lies to the south.

Mallaig is close to Loch Nevis - the deepest seawater loch in Europe.

Heading back to Fort William

Returning back to Fort William at the steam train leaves Mallaig at 14:10 and arrives in Fort William at 16:03. This completes the 84 mile round trip on the west coast railway.

 

The K1 No. 62005

Jacobite Train - The K1 No. 62005

The Jacobite steam train locomotive was built in 1949 by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow, designed by Arthur Peppercorn. Due to the steep gradients of the route on the West Highland Line, more powerful locomotives were needed and the design was altered over the years, resulting in the current K1 train used for the Jacobite train.

Harry Potter

The Jacobite steam train was made famous in the Harry Potter films series being used as the Hogwarts Express - the train that takes Harry Potter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Shots of the train passing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct were iconic in the films and have boosted tourism to the train with fans looking to follow in the footsteps of their fictional hero.

There is a special Harry Potter style compartment that can be booked for the morning train only.

History

The Jacobite steam train Scotland is a direct descendant of the "Flying Scotsman" and is one of only two remaining mainline steam trains in Britain. It began service in 1979, as part of British Rail's centenary celebrations. At that time it was painted dark green with black lining, but following privatisation, its usual livery became LNER apple green.

The Jacobites

The Jacobite Steam Train Scotland is named after the Jacobites, who were supporters of James II/VII and Bonnie Prince Charlie in their attempts to restore the House of Stuart to the throne. The Jacobites had a particularly strong presence in southwest Scotland: many Scots supported them because they believed that Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) had a legitimate claim to the throne.

Train journey in west Scotland.

Frequently asked questions:

Where do I catch the Jacobite steam train?

At Fort William train station.

How long is the Jacobite steam train ride?

It takes 2 hours to reach Mallaig, you are there for 1.5 hours and then return to Fort William on another 2 hours return journey - so around 5.5 hours in total for this trip.

Is the Jacobite Steam Train worth it?

It really is, stunning scenery and history on the west coast of Scotland on a beautiful steam train, it's definitely worth it!

Was the Jacobite train used in Harry Potter?

Yes! For those looking to follow in Harry's footsteps, this steam train is the same one used in the iconic Harry Potter films series... it doesn't go to Hogwarts unfortunately! The morning train contains a special Harry Potter-themed compartment that can be booked in advance.

How much does it cost to ride on the Jacobite train?

First-class day return: Adult - £69, child - £48.

Standard class day return: Adult - £49, child - £28.

£3.75 booking fee also applicable.

These prices were correct at the time of writing this article but are subject to change.

When is the best time to photograph the steam train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct?

You can get a fantastic picture of the train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The train actually slows down making it easier to get the perfect photograph. Make your way on the road under the viaduct, then head to the western hill to get the best vantage point. The best time to photograph the train is in the morning at 10:58 or afternoon at 15:00. Depending on available light you can also see the afternoon train at 13.25 and 17.45.

Hogwarts Express

Conclusion

The Jacobite steam train is one of the greatest railway journeys in the world, and an awesome way to experience the best of Scotland's landscapes, mountains and coastline.

All photos courtesy of Alan Butterfield.

Location Map of Balvenie Castle

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