Scotland Trains

The Jacobite-12 Things you need to know before riding the ‘Harry Potter’ Train in Scotland

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Scotland is filled with mystery and lore. Some stories are true, some are fantasy. Yet, you can experience the scenery, history and beauty associated with this part of the world with a tour across the magnificent Scottish Highlands by train. Taking the Jacobite from Fort William to Mallaig is an excellent way to introduce you to the best of what the wonderous land of Scotland has to offer.

The Jacobite train adventure is that one excursion that you should make happen if ever in Scotland. It represents the epitome of the romance and intrigue that continues to make this country one of the most interesting places on Earth.

Why is the Jacobite so famous?

There are three reasons why the Jacobite Express Train is so famous. First, it was the one of the first locomotives to use the newly built Glenfinnan Viaduct in 1901. The dramatic scene of this train crossing the viaduct caused the Bank of Scotland to begin producing 10 notes with the image of The Jacobite crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Second, the viaduct opened up travel to the more remote and most beautiful parts of the Scottish Highlands. This viaduct made traveling in this area so popular, because of the wild and gorgeous scenery that has made Scotland so famous.

Lastly, The Jacobite has been featured in major movies and has been a point of obsession for many fans of the screen. In fact, the Jacobite train has been featured in eight movies.

Jacobite Steam Train
Jacobite Steam Train

Was The Jacobite used in Harry Potter?

Yes, The Jacobite was used in the film, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. The steam engine train, whose character becomes ‘The Hogwarts Express’, also was used in scenes from other Harry Potter films where various carriages from the train can be seen. Warner Brothers was also granted access to the route that the Jacobite takes through the amazing landscape. You will see the same scenery as Harry, Ron and Hermione when they traveled from London’s King’s Cross Station Platform 9¾ to Hogsmeade Station making their way to their fist day of school.

Where does the Jacobite leave from?

The Jacobite leaves from Fort William and travels along a route in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. After passing such iconic sites as Loch Eil, the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Arisaig, you will depart in Mallaig. Here, you can choose to ride back to Fort William, or stay a night or two enjoying the sights of Loch Nevis and Mallaig Harbor.

If you want to explore the town of Fort William before your trip, there is so much to do. Hikers can explore the Ben Nevis Range while photographers will love the Corpach Shipwreck with the mountains as a backdrop.

If you are a huge “Harry Potter” fan, you may want to go on a tour of filming locations from the movie. Don’t miss Hagrid’s Hut, Steall Falls, the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Eilean Na Moine, where Dumbledore was buried. This would make a great side trip in itself before you leave for your journey.

How long is the Jacobite train ride?

The Jacobite train travels 42 miles to the port city of Mallaig. If you choose to ride back the same way the trip is doubled to a total of 84 miles. The trip to Mallaig takes about two hours, you can then depart and walk around for another two hours, then the train will depart again for Fort William for another two hour trip.

What months does The Jacobite Train run?

The Jacobite train runs from Early April to late October. The morning service runs all season, but the afternoon service is only from May to September. The train does not run in winter. However, an insider tip reminds you that you can ride the Scotrail during the winter and get the same scenery, as it uses the same track. But, if you want the ambiance and the bragging rights to having ridden the Hogwarts Express, you will have to wait until winter is over.

Can you book a one way trip on The Jacobite?

No, you cannot book a one way ticket on the Jacobite. To travel on different days on The Jacobite you have to buy two tickets. You must purchase one for your first day of your journey and one for your return journey. You must also book in advance. Premium tickets sell quickly and it is suggested that you book three to four months in advance, especially if traveling during the summer season.

Is there a First Class on The Jacobite Train?

There is a First Class on the Jacobite and it is highly recommended that this is the ticket that you book if it is available. You will be seated around a table of either 2 or 4 depending on how many are in your party. Seating is set on plush, vintage, upholstery with a table and side lamp. Afternoon tea service is offered and you can even opt for an enhanced experience with the High Tea Service.

The Compartment Class is reserved for parties of up to six. If you are a “Harry Potter” fan, then you will want to make sure you reserve this compartment to relive all the glorious scenes from the film as you watch the same views as the cast of the movie. Make sure you book the morning service, as the afternoon service does not include the Compartment Class. Unfortunately there is no service in this compartment, but you can grab a snack from the buffet carriage if you get hangry!

Can you sleep on The Jacobite Train?

No, there are no sleeper carriages on the Jacobite train. However, you can score a sleeper carriage on one of the most luxurious trains in Scotland, the Royal Scotsman if you are really wanting to experience the elegance and fun of overnight train travel.

Can you eat on the Jacobite Train?

Yes, you can eat on The Jacobite train. If you are seated in first class, you will enjoy a service of tea or coffee. You can even splurge and order their High Tea Cream Service, which includes, tea or coffee, sandwiches, scones and other fine treats.

If you are seated in Standard Class or the Compartment Class you will have access to the Buffet Carriage where you can grab soft drinks, tea, coffee and light snacks. In addition, you can also bring your own food on the train. Grab a bottle of champagne and a picnic basket and have your own feast.

How much is it to ride The Jacobite Train?

Riding First Class will cost you $100 per person, and Standard Class is $67 per person. If you have a bunch of friends that want to relive the “Harry Potter” scenes, then make sure you book a Compartment Class service, which is $435 per compartment. If you have six friends, that’s $72 per person for a “one of a kind” experience.

Can you sit where they filmed “Harry Potter” on the train?

Yes, you can sit in the Compartment Class where scenes from “Harry Potter” were filmed. Ensure you have inform the booking agent that this is the compartment that you want when ordering your ticket.

Is a ride on The Jacobite Train worth it?

Riding on The Jacobite train will not only be an amazing experience in itself, but a chance to see some of the most breathtaking scenery in Scotland. Watch the Scottish Highlands pass you, see the views featured in the”Harry Potter” movies and enjoy the cities where you will begin and end your journey. This trip is a unique look into the wilds of the Scottish countryside that has been named one of the most scenic in the world.

If you are on an adventure in Scotland, this is a great train to pair with the Caledonian Sleeper Train that runs to London.

Wendy Edwards
Wendy is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. But for the past seven years she has traveled by RV to many National Parks, monuments and everywhere in between. She and her family of five, a furry canine friend and a bearded dragon have crossed the United States thirty one times. She never tires of hiking, biking, camping and photographing this beautiful country.