Hogwarts Express

This was booked way in advance hence I’m posting now, just after the end of the 2018 season so you can book for next season.  Places sell out fast.

We were fortunate enough to get tickets for the last day of the 2018 season although it wasn’t done intentionally.  Originally I wanted tickets for July but the wait was three months long.  Oh but it was worth it.

I am a self confessed non-understander of Harry Potter.  The truth is, I never read any book because there are now so many of them and I can barely get through my own list of ‘must-reads’.   My children however do enjoy the stories, the glamour and the more so the intrigue and fantasy.  The films I have watched and for this I can totally appreciate the need to go explore the film locations, this being one of them.

The Jacobite Steam Train as it is otherwise known, described as one of the best journeys in the world, is an 84 mile round trip which takes you past a list of impressive extremes.

Starting near the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, it visits Britain’s most westerly mainland railway station, Arisaig; passes close by the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, Loch Morar and the shortest river in Britain, River Morar, finally arriving next to the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis!

Of course, as you hear the chugging of the wheels as they turn, and see the engine smoke bellowing past the windows as you curve along the tracks you know this is something really special – it takes you back in time.  If you’re lucky enough to get yourself a First Class ticket you’ll even have your own booth.  Truly Harry Potter style I’m told.

Yet for the vistas, you can’t beat second class.  At this I always remember the story of Queen Victoria who had the Royal Box at the Opera House designed so she could be seen and not so she could see the stage.  Money doesn’t always buy you the best.  It can however buy you some kudos.

And so with a few pit stops on route that allow you to stretch your legs that little bit more including one at Glenfinnan where you get the chance to look around a fascinating museum for 50p (kids go free) you arrive in your destination with just enough time to have lunch.

My advise is to pre-book your lunch as everywhere gets packed.  The train holds a lot of people and Mallaig is a beautiful shipping village with its own tourists.

Also be warned that the gift shop on board, whilst having a lovely selection of items, only takes cash.

You can pre-purchase a High Tea yet don’t expect a tall elegant cake stand.  You’ll get a paper box full of wrapped goodies from ginger cake to a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich; not forgetting the scones and cream.

Trips can be booked one way however I advise two ways simply for the ease of getting back to your car, or accommodation.

To book your Jacobean train trip visit: https://www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/jacobite-steam-train-details.cfm

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