By Craig Neil
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Table of Contents
- Tourist information
- Tourist map of Scotland
- Things to do nearby
- Frequently asked questions
The 18-metre Glenfinnan Monument commemorates the Jacobite uprising of 1745. It was built on the northern end of Loch Shiel in 1815 and is now managed by the National Trust for Scotland.
Discover this fascinating historic monument and the stunning landscape it’s situated in with this complete guide.
|Opening Hours:||2 Jan–23 Dec, Sun–Fri, 14.00–15.00; Sat, 11.00–12.00
24 Dec–26 Dec, closed
27 Dec–30 Dec, daily, 14.00–15.00
31 Dec–1 Jan 2023, closed
The visitor centre is free
|Parking:||Paid on-site car park £3.50 cars, £6 motorhomes|
|Facilities:||Toilets, disabled access, cafe, shop, audio tour, guided tour, picnic area|
1: The view across Loch Shiel is spectacular. This has to be one of, if not the, most picturesque locations in Scotland.
2: 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.
3: 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.
1: There’s not much else in the immediate area so if you need facilities like toilets and snacks your only option is the Glenfinnan National Trust Scotland visitor centre.
2: You can get unlimited free entry to hundreds of NTS sites like this one if you get an annual membership. Join NTS today.
3: 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 walking one of the trails up Britain’s most famous mountain.
The Glenfinnan Monument sits at the northeast head of Loch Shiel where it has commanded spectacular views of the Highland landscape since its construction in 1815.
This 18-metre tower 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 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 tells 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 an amazing 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.
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 1745 uprising and the history that led up to that important moment in Scotland’s past.
The centre also includes educational exhibitions and displays about the area as well as a café and gift shop.
The wild landscape of Glenfinnan will no doubt 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.
If you time it right you can watch 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, if you’d like to explore the loch further you’ll find a rough single-track trail that follows the body of water its entire length if you take the detour that bears left from the monument path.
It’s certainly possible to walk the length of the track but I suggest taking a mountain bike as Loch Shiel is around 17 miles long.
Discover more places to visit in the Scottish Highlands with: The Best Places to Visit in the Highlands – Ultimate Visitor Guide.
Tourist map of Scotland
The Glenfinnan Monument is located at Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel, 18.5 miles west of Fort William on the A830.
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Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:
Ardgour & Strontian – 391 Explorer.
Loch Morar & Mallaig – 398 Explorer.
Mallaig & Glenfinnan – 40 Landranger.
OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
Things to do nearby
Glenfinnan Viaduct and Loch Shiel Viewpoints. Glenfinnan PH37 4LT. 32-minute walk. A footpath that runs underneath the Glenfinnan viaduct to the Glenfinnan Station Museum.
There are two viewpoints along the path, one of which has a stunning panoramic view of Loch Shiel and the other which provides close-up views of the Jacobite Steam Train as it thunders across the viaduct. The footpath is most easily reached from the station museum.
Glenfinnan Station Museum. Station Road, Glenfinnan PH37 4LT. 16-minute walk. A small museum at Glenfinnan railway station that showcases memorabilia from the iconic West Highland Line.
The museum features a dining car that serves food, a converted bunkhouse sleeping car and a restored rail signal box from 1901.
Glenfinnan Visitor Centre. Lochaber PH37 4LT. 3-minute walk. A visitor centre managed by the National Trust for Scotland that displays exhibits and information about the Jacobite uprising of 1745. The centre has a car park, a café and a gift shop.
Loch Shiel. 1-minute walk. Loch Shiel is the 4th-longest loch in Scotland at around 12 miles in length. It is surrounded by hills and is a very popular hiking area thanks to the footpaths that follow the water’s edge.
The loch has been designated a Special Protection Area due to the number of birds of prey that live in the area including sea eagles, sparrowhawks, ospreys and harriers.
Loch Eil. 7-minute drive. A land-locked sea loch that joins the northern end of Loch Linnhe. It can be viewed on its northern side by the Jacobite Steam train or by car on the A830.
A more pleasurable vantage point is found on the A861 which follows the entire length of the southern edge of the loch.
Frequently asked questions
How do I get to the Glenfinnan Monument?
Address: Glenfinnan, PH37 4LT
Directions map: Google Maps
What does the Glenfinnan monument commemorate?
The Glenfinnan Monument is a tribute to the Highlanders that fought for the Jacobites during the uprising of 1745.
The monument was built in 1815 by Alexander MacDonald of Gleneagle on the site where Prince Charles Edward Stuart first rallied the massed Highland clans.
Who is the statue at Glenfinnan?
The statue on top of the Glenfinnan Monument depicts an anonymous Highlander who fought in the Jacobite uprising of 1745.
Is Glenfinnan Viaduct worth visiting?
Glenfinnan Viaduct is one of the most scenic locations in Scotland. Glenfinnan faces Loch Shiel which is bordered on either side by the rugged peaks of Beinn Odhar Bheag and Sgurr Ghiubhsachain, making it a perfect photo opportunity.
The viaduct is perhaps best viewed as part of a train journey on the famous Jacobite Express from Fort William to Mallaig.