Railways and films have been bedfellows since the days of the Lumiere Brothers and silent movies – the Hogwarts Express is simply one of the more recent additions to a long line of movies with railway connections. In the photo, a scan from one of my pre-Hogwartian era slides, Ex-LNER B1 Class 4-6-0 No.61264 is approaching Glenfinnan Station, with one of West Coast Railways regular Fort William to Mallaig ‘Jacobite’ services.
The famous Glenfinnan viaduct is just out of shot beyond the hump in the right background. The viaduct is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland, and, in addition to starring in Harry Potter movies, it has also appeared on Scottish bank notes. Whilst the viaduct might stand as a monument to Robert, ‘concrete Bob’, McAlpine, there’s another monument in Glenfinnan, one directly connected to the use of ‘Jacobite’ for the train headboard – the Glenfinnan Monument, erected to commemorate the Jacobite rebellion, under Bonnie Prince Charlie, who landed nearby in 1745, and launched his ill-fated campaign, to claim the thrones of Scotland and England, from the somewhat unlikely setting of Glenfinnan.
The fish trade, for which the line was originally built, has long since disappeared, today it’s tourists and travelers to Skye and the Islands using the Mallaig ferries who keep the line open. Regularly voted one of the worlds most scenic railway journeys, its status was only enhanced by the wizardry of CGI, the imagination of JK Rowling, and teenage pester power, once Harry Potter was on the loose.
Should you ever be fortunate enough to travel this way, the beaches at Morar are stunning and Loch Morar is the deepest body of fresh water in Britain, over 1000 feet deep. Loch Morar has a spook connection too. Swordland Lodge, a building on the northern shore of the loch, was used as a training school by the Special Operations Executive, during World War II.
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