Last updated on September 28th, 2020
The Glenfinnan Monument in the Highlands
The 18-metre Glenfinnan Monument commemorates the Jacobite uprising and has been situated at the northern end of Loch Shiel since its construction in 1815.
Category: Historic site, Landmark, Landscape, Loch, Monument
Suitable for ages: 5 to 10 years, 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 8 out of 10
About The Glenfinnan Monument
The Glenfinnan Monument sits at the north-east head of Loch Shiel where it has commanded spectacular views of the Highland landscape since its construction in 1815.
This 18-metre structure was built to commemorate one of the defining moments of the Jacobite uprising of 1745 when Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised his standard in front of the massed ranks of 1500 supporting clansmen and declared his intent to take the thrones of England and Scotland in the name of his father James Stuart.
This declaration of war marked the start of the Jacobite uprising that would ultimately end at the ill-fated Battle of Culloden, and the monument at Glenfinnan is a fitting tribute to the massacre that followed on that fateful day.
To my mind, the view at the Glenfinnan Monument is one of the most beautiful in Scotland and I’m sure you’ll recognise it from photos on Scotland-themed websites all over the internet.
But seeing a photo and actually experiencing the place are two totally different things, and this is one of Scotland’s attractions that totally lives up to the hype.
There’s a visitor centre nearby that’ll tell you the story of the Jacobite uprising and you can also book yourself onto one of their tours that allows you to climb up the inside of the monument to view Loch Shiel from a fantastic elevated position.
I don’t think any monument in the world is located in such a beautiful location as this one and you really owe it to yourself to visit it if you’re ever in this part of the Scottish Highlands.
Things to do at The Glenfinnan Monument
The monument was commissioned by a member of Clan Macdonald of Glenaladale to commemorate the raising of the standard by ‘The Young Pretender’, and in 1835 the statue of the anonymous Highlander was placed at the top of the tower.
The monument has been a renowned Highland landmark ever since which is why today it’s in the care of The National Trust for Scotland who’ve maintained it since taking ownership all the way back in 1938.
The Trust has since built a car park and pathway to the monument so that access can be easily made by people of all abilities, while a visitor centre has been built to educate tourists about the ill-fated uprising and the history that led up to that important moment in Scotland’s history.
The centre also includes educational exhibitions and displays about the area as well as a cafe and gift shop.
The wild landscape of Glenfinnan will also be familiar to fans of Harry Potter as this is the site where the famous Hogwarts Express made its magical journey across the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and lucky tourists can frequently see The Jacobite steam train thundering through on its journey north to Mallaig.
My tip here is to contact West Coast Railways to find out when the next crossing will be so that you can get your camera ready to catch it puffing its way across the viaduct – it’s quite a sight.
Heading back to the tranquil shores of Loch Shiel, NTS guided tours are regularly held that inform visitors about the Jacobites as well as allowing them to climb the steps to the very top of the monument where sweeping views of the loch and surrounding mountains can be admired.
It’s a truly gorgeous view and it has to be one of the best photo opportunities in the Highlands.
You’ll find more attractions in the Highlands with my Guide to the Best Places to Visit in the Scottish Highlands.
- The view across Loch Shiel is spectacular. This has to be one of, if not the, most picturesque locations in Scotland.
- There are lots of nice walks in the surrounding area but I recommend following the paths that lead under the iconic Glenfinnan viaduct. You might be lucky enough to be there when the Jacobite steam train thunders past.
- The NTS visitor centre has loads of information about the monument and the story of the Jacobite uprising. Go take a look if you’d like to learn about one of the most important events in Scotland’s history.
- You can get unlimited free entry to hundreds of NTS sites like this one if you get an annual membership. Check out the advert below for details.
- After a visit to Glenfinnan you’re spoilt for choice for where to go next. My recommendation is to head east along the A830 past Loch Eil to visit the Ben Nevis distillery before heading to the Ben Nevis visitor centre and following one of the trails up Britain’s most famous mountain.
Photos and video
Address and map
The Glenfinnan Monument is located at Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel, 18.5 miles west of Fort William on the A830.
Tickets and opening times
Entry to Loch Shiel is free, but there is a fee for guided tours from the visitor centre to the tower. The tours are every 30 minutes and take six people per tour.
The site is open daily, all year, although the visitor centre has the following opening times:
- 1 Mar – 31 May, daily, 09.00-18.00
- 1 Jun – 31 Aug, daily, 09.00-19.00
- 1 Sep – 31 Oct, daily, 09.00-18.00
- 1 Nov – 28 Feb, daily, 10.00-16.00
Getting there: Car park on-site
Getting around: Disabled access, Easy-access paths, Pushchair access (visitor centre and paths to the monument), Stairs (in the monument)
On-site conveniences: Gift shop, Hot drinks, Picnic area, Snacks, Toilets