Where to see the Harry Potter Steam Train near Arisaig?
Whether you call it the Harry Potter steam train, the Hogwarts Express steam train or you use its proper name, The Jacobite steam train, the big question is where to see this most famous of locomotives?
The obvious places would be the train stations. If you go to Arisaig Station or Morar Station, you’ll see it close up as it passes through and at Mallaig station, you’ll see it pulling up and standing for a couple of hours before heading back to Fort William.
If you go to Arisaig Station around 2:30 (except Saturday), you’ll actually get to see both trains passing through! As the track ahead is a single track, the one from Fort William has to wait until the one coming from Mallaig has passed to be able to continue its journey.
Sometimes I prefer to watch it from further away to see it in its full glory. My favourite spot to do this is from Creag Mhor, the big hill at the back of Arisaig that you see on the road to Mallaig. Don’t go too high up or the train will be hard to see.
So how to get there. I usually go by the road that goes to the foot of Creag Mhor which is the turn off to Kinloyd. You pass this soon after Arisaig village on your way towards Mallaig. It’s not a paved road so not everyone will want to drive down there and its not suitable for camper vans, so you might choose to walk.
After you pass a campsite on your right and a farm, keep going and before long, you’ll see a cleared area for parking on the right and from there a path going up under the railway bridge and up towards the mast on the hill.
Be sure to close the gate behind you and find yourself a good viewpoint a bit further up, but not too far. (It’s actually been padlocked recently so you’ll need to climb over.) You might also want to watch for the train coming back from Mallaig to Fort William later.
The other route is behind Arisaig Station and you may as well go early and have a nice walk at least part the way up the hill too for great views of Arisaig and over to Loch Morar. There are worn paths but good footwear is always advisable especially as it can be wet.
Another great spot is from the Morar Cross. You can find the steps to climb up next to the rail crossing at Morar Station. It’s quite steep but worth it as it also gives you a great view over the Sands of Morar on one side and Loch Morar on the other. It takes about ten minutes for the train to travel between Mallaig and Morar so you can time your visit based on that.
You can also see it from the hill behind Morar train station and you’ll hear it passing by if you’re enjoying yourself at the Silver Sands of Morar. From next to the river, you can see it going over the viaduct but you don’t get a full view.
In Mallaig, apart from the station, another spot to watch it in action is at the parking bay on the main coastal road. This is about a kilometre before the paid West Bay Car Park and Mallaig railway station.
When to see the Harry Potter steam train at Mallaig and Arisaig
It takes around 20-30 minutes for the train to travel between Arisaig and Mallaig, add on a few extra minutes to make sure you don’t miss it. It sits in Mallaig station until departure but may move from the platform.
See the timetable for departure and arrival times. Morning service runs from 4 Apr to 28 Oct but afternoon service only from 2 May to 30 Sept. (2022 Timetable)
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Where to see the Harry Potter Steam Train on the way to Arisaig?
Glenfinnan is the most popular choice and the viaduct seems to be the favourite view so let’s start with that. Nowadays, you can only park in the two official car parks and both have a fee of around £3. One is next to the visitor centre where you can also buy souvenirs of the area and Harry Potter merchandise.
At Glenfinnan Viaduct, you have two options, watch it from the fields below the bridge or walk up to the viewpoint. The trail is signposted and takes you under the bridge, probably taking around 20-30 mins. Again, wear decent footwear as it may be wet.
Glenfinnan Station Museum
The next option to see the Hogwarts Express steam train is at Glenfinnan Station. The best way to do this one is to arrive early so you can get parked, have coffee and cake or lunch in the lovely Glenfinnan Station Museum Cafe in the old train carriages, then visit Glenfinnan Station Museum and wait for the Jacobite steam train to come in.
If it’s coming from Fort William, the train stays there for about 15 minutes so you have time to see it and you can also buy from the Harry Potter shop on board the train.
These photos were taken a couple of years ago and it’s just been renovated but still has the classic look. They use local and sustainable suppliers (including Arisaig Bread Shed) and the Glenfinnan Dining Car Cafe is one of my favourite stops on the way up to Arisaig. Don’t miss the delicious Highland Fold ice-cream!
It doesn’t end there. Having had tasty treats at the cafe, learnt something new at the museum, seen the train on the platform,and bought yet more Harry Potter items to fill up your house, don’t hang around too long because it’s time to head a couple of miles up the road and find somewhere to park safely on the roadside and wait for the train to come. It’ll be on your left. You can actually get closer than this just a bit further on.
There’s one last tip to see the Jacobite steam train – if you want to explore Glenfinnan a bit more, book yourself into the Jacobite Retreat to watch it pass right in front of you. Find them here on AirBnb. I haven’t stayed there yet but I follow them on Instagram and it looks lovely!
Finally, if you’d like to book the Jacobite Steam Train, you can buy a day return ticket, standard or first class For an extra special touch, book a private table, a compartment or add a cream tea to be served on your journey!
If you’re not staying locally, you can see options to book a full tour including the steam train here.
You can also get the train up and hire a car locally from Morar Motors who will pick you up and drop you off at the train station.
Read about Scotland’s great train journeys at Visit Scotland.
Do you have any other great tips to see the Hogwarts Express in Scotland, feel free to add them in the comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Harry Potter Steam Train/Hogwarts Express Steam Train/Jacobite Steam Train FAQS
- Is the Hogwarts Express a real train? Yes, it is the West Coast Railways Jacobite Steam Train
- Where is the Harry Potter Steam Train Bridge?/Where is the Hogwarts Steam Train Bridge? Where is the Harry Potter Steam Train Viaduct?/Where is the Hogwarts Steam Train Viaduct? – At Glenfinnan Viaduct, Glenfinnan, West Scotland
- Where is the Harry Potter Steam Train Station?/Where is the Hogwarts Express Steam Train Station? – The train leaves from Fort William station, stops at Glenfinnan Station and terminates at Mallaig Station.
- Can you ride the Harry Potter Train? Yes, from April to October. See info above
- Where can you see the Hogwarts Express? Where can you see the Harry Potter train? At Fort William, Glenfinnan and Mallaig. See above post for more info
- Where does the Harry Potter train go?/ Where does the Hogwarts Express train go? It goes to Mallaig from Fort William and Fort William to Mallaig.
- Where does the Harry Potter train leave from? Fort William and later from Mallaig.
- How long is the Harry Potter train ride? / What is the Jacobite steam train journey time?– The HP steam train ride takes 2 hours and 10 mins
- How much is the Harry Potter train ride? Tickets start at £52 for an adult day return and £30 for children up to 16 plus a minimum £3.75 booking fee
- Can I ride first class on the Jacobite Steam Train? How much are first class tickets on the Harry Potter Steam Train? First class tickets for the Jacobite Steam train are £79.50 for adults and £52 for children plus a minimum £3.75 booking fee
- Where can you ride the Hogwarts Express? – Between Fort William and Mallaig – see info above
- How often does the Jacobite steam train go? It goes twice a day from 2nd May to 30th September and once a day in April and October (morning service only, starting 4th April to 26th October)
- Can I buy a one-way ticket on the Harry Potter steam train? No, West Coast Railways only sell day return tickets
- Where can I buy a ticket for the Harry Potter Steam train? You can buy tickets right here.
- Where can I see the Jacobite Steam Train Timetable 2022? Harry Potter Steam Train Timetable 2022? Hogwarts Express Steam Train Timetable 2022? You can see it right here.
- How long does the Jacobite steam train stay in Mallaig? / How long does the Harry Potter steam train stay in Mallaig? The morning train stays for one hour and 45 minutes, the afternoon train stays for around two hours
- Seats are fully booked on the West Coast Railways website. What can I do? You can try booking a full trip with an agency. See more here.
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