7th October 2014
After much nagging, I managed to persuade my country ride loving family to get tickets for the Jacobite Steam Railway, a.k.a. the Hogwarts’ Express.
The train leaves Fort William at 10:15 and we just had time for a few photos at the front by the locomotive before we set off. All seats are around tables and unfortunately due to the poor weather we had to keep wiping the window to demist the view. We were in standard class, first class looked like very comfy seats and included free tea or coffee but not nice enough for the price difference. The Harry Potter First Class carriages may have been worth the extra money though, they are traditional carriages with 6 seats and a sliding door onto a corridor.
The train track is very close to the lochs and sea so has spectacular views for the majority of the journey. The famous scene from Harry Potter is crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, where we all try to get photos out of the window as the train toots its horn and puffs extra smoke. Then there is a short stop in Glenfinnan where you can visit a small museum for 50p and get tea and cake in a stationary dining car restaurant. 20mins later and we’re off again passing moors, hills and expanses of water. The track winds along the coast and inland through mountains. At 12:20 we arrive in Mallaig for our lunch stop. There is time to go on an hour’s boat ride but we opt for sandwiches and scones in a local tea room with roaring fires. The train served drinks and snacks in the buffet car and also had a trolley service but we had waited for a leisurely lunch in Mallaig. Coach D also houses a souvenir shop, selling train and Harry Potter items.
The return journey is at 14:10 and there is no turntable at Mallaig so the train pulls us in reverse therefore not as good for photos. The weather has become warm and sunny so the ride back is much better views without misty windows. The arrival in Fort William at 16:00 is the real puzzle, as we alight the carriage we realise that the train is not only missing from the front but nowhere to be seen. I can only deduce that it was already parked on platform 12 and 3/4 therefore not visible to us 🙂
Baby friendly info:
Despite the website only having a child option from 0, babies are in fact free. Only children needing a seat need a ticket.
There is room to store a pushchair by the carriage doors, but the Glenfinnan and Mallaig platforms are short so for us this meant carrying the collapsed pushchair through 2 carriages to alight the train. A carrier only would have been easier.