The first time I went to Doune Castle, in Stirlingshire, I was conflicted between my love of history and castles and my interest in Monty Python, the castle having featured in the Holy Grail. I’ve been back several times since and the castle love wins just about every time. I had the same sort of sense in Glenfinnan last weekend. I am a history buff, a lover of beautiful scenery, a train nerd, a very proud Scot and a Harry Potter fan.

The Glenfinnan Viaduct, which I crossed on a Scotrail train the following day, is a beautiful piece of engineering, certainly, and it conveys regular passenger services as well as steam trains, though it is probably best known for featuring in the film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was the architecture for me, though, and nary a thought of a flying Ford Anglia crossed my mind. We walked up a path and there were a right few folk of many nationalities heading the same way to get photos. I got my own pictures and looked for a moment. I wasn’t thinking so much, instead just drinking in the scenery, letting my eyes follow the lines of the viaduct and the hills beyond.

By Loch Shiel stands the monument to the 1745 Jacobite rising. Charles Edward Stuart landed at Loch nan Uamh, near Arisaig, and his standard was raised at Glenfinnan. I get irritated at how Scottish history gets reduced to certain events and certain people, mainly men. It gets too romantic, losing nuance along the way. Glenfinnan is a busy place mainly because of the romantic history though it has a great beauty beyond the tartan stuff. The monument stands at the head of the loch and it is a dramatic vista, best appreciated behind the monument where you can’t see the bloody thing. We sat there for a few minutes, looking up the loch and letting the peace drop slow. It was possible to shut out the road noise and even the steady stream of others nearby getting their photos. A bit of Zen, right there.

Reaching Glenfinnan the next day, my train stopped by the Jacobite steam train. Many of my fellow passengers turned to the window and took photos of the train. I wasn’t fussed. I was just looking forward to crossing the viaduct, being able to appreciate the sweep of the landscape from a wonder of Scottish engineering. The scenic, beautiful and functional, all there in varying measures, all to be quickly seen before the gaze turns with the next bend. It’s why I love trains, Scotland and history and all at the same time I could be a lover of all of them at the same time.

18 thoughts on “Glenfinnan

  1. Sadly, I have still not made my way to Glenfinnan. I really want to, but honestly, I’m reluctant. I’ve never been the sort who likes to follow the crowds. My secret strategy is to see everything I can in Scotland that is currently off the world’s radar. And then by the time that people figure out that Scotland is about more than the viaduct and Loch Ness, maybe I can visit those places in peace, haha! 😀 Sounds like you are much the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a superb strategy and one I wholeheartedly agree with! I stopped briefly at Eilean Donan Castle last weekend and felt absolutely nothing. Currently heading to my favourite art gallery in the country, Kirkcaldy, which will give me much more joy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Alli Templeton

    Your passions all seem to tie in nicely – particularly here. And who can blame you? It’s staggeringly beautiful, even with the monument! I can see that trains would be a perfect way to explore the gorgeous Scottish landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are lucky that trains go to and through many of the finest parts of the country. Indeed there are some places where the train is the only way to get there. The only passion that’s missing from Glenfinnan is football!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alli Templeton

        Fair enough, but I guess, as they say, you can’t have everything… Still, I wish we had that kind of scenery on our train journeys, but it’s all very boring down here. You never know, maybe one day there’ll be a Glenfinnan football team!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The nearest one, Fort William, was in the news recently for being the worst football team in the UK so maybe not! England does have some very fine train journeys, though. I always like the bit going through Lincolnshire.


      3. Alli Templeton

        I guess you’re right, Kev, although most of the train journeys around here are boring by comparison. I don’t know the Lincolnshire one, but it sounds nice.
        Perhaps football and the highlands don’t go together so well!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. They tend to play shinty in the Highlands, which is like hockey but with mud. I think the bit of the East Coast main line south of Retford and Grantham is cool. That’s Lincolnshire, I think.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Alli Templeton

        Shinty sounds very interesting! With mud? Wow – this has to be seen!
        Lincolnshire has got some very pretty scenery, even if it isn’t quite Glenfinnan.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I gather that this year’s final got abandoned at the start of the second half so I wouldn’t watch too much! I saw a little bit of it before switching to the football.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Digest: October 2019 – Walking Talking

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