Taking THE picture of the legendary Jacobite Steam Train

Movie locations naturally draw the attention of many fans, they became attractions for tourists, and together with the flow of tourists, there is cash flowing in too. Glenfinnan and its surroundings, Loch Shiel and Eilt are areas, where second and third Harry Potter movies (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) were made. Out of all the places, Glenfinnan viaduct is the top. A 380m long and 31m tall railway bridge is famous for its scene with a flying car. Everyone knows the scene, where Harry and Ron are dangerously floating above the moving train on this bridge, trying to get on, as they have missed it in King’s Cross.

Clearly, Glenfinnan viaduct is THE spot, so sought by many photographers, who want to capture this magical place in the Scottish Highlands. This touristic spot on the Road to the Isles (A830) is about 28 kilometres from Fort William. There is a lookout spot at the Loch Shiel, which offers services such as parking place, touristic centre, toilets and a café.

It is very easy to distinguish between a regular common tourist and a photographer. Photographers – always so eager for perfection –  don’t walk casually up the trail like all the others. Instead, they walk briskly closer to the viaduct, where there is a bunch of people working their camcorders and tripods already. All of them are trying to get as close to their vision of the epic photograph, which they have already taken in their mind.

Some photographers stay right below the viaduct (so did we) to picture the hills and the bridge with the approaching train as its dominant feature in the front. Others choose the other side, above the viaduct. You can get there by taking the Glenfinnan Trail View Point path from Glenfinnan railway station. This trail is marked well, and it offers more than one viewpoint at the viaduct below. Just be careful, as this trail is not the easiest one, especially when wet. Waterproof hard shoes are a must.

There are many angles you can take your picture from, and each will help you produce a unique one. That is what makes it even harder to decide, where the right spot for you is. Hogwarts Express, a.k.a. The Jacobite Steam Train will give you this chance only once, maximum twice a day. That is how many times it rides this way and the time at what it arrives here varies too. In summer there is one train in the morning and other in the afternoon.

Be ready you will need about 40 minutes to get to the viaduct and to find the right spot for your tripod. I would recommend coming at about the train’s departure time from Fort William station. Maybe even a bit earlier, to avoid the time pressure and stress. We only had half an hour, and what can I tell you. It WAS close. All we managed to do was to arrive, take the cameras out, when we heard the train hoot in the distance. No time to deal with and setting up our tripods, nor anything else. We were glad to have camcorder and camera in our hands, and we did what we could. It was a question of minutes, and had we come a bit later, we would have been very disappointed and upset. Anyway, believe me when I say: come early, so you have time to spare.

The loud hoot of the locomotive is a clear signal for everyone to look up at the viaduct. The engine’s driver is letting you know this way, his train is about to ride across the bridge. He lets out some steam and slows down noticeably, giving thus everyone a chance to enjoy the view, and giving photographers an opportunity to seize this moment to the fullest, and make the most of it. We believe you will make it too, and that you will manage to capture the Jacobite Steam Train in all its epic and majestic beauty. Let us know if we have helped in any way, or even better, send us your masterpiece. We will be honoured.


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