Last updated on May 23rd, 2020
The Jacobite Steam Train journey in the Highlands
The Jacobite steam train has been described as the greatest train journey in the world. Covering 84 miles the Jacobite travels from Fort William to Mallaig.
Category: Landscape, Loch, Mountain
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: 10 out of 10
About the Jacobite Steam Train
The 84-mile rail journey across the Scottish Highlands from Fort William to Mallaig has been described as one of the great railway journeys of the world, and with good reason.
This scenic route has become a favourite with tourists from far and wide thanks to the beautiful landscape that whooshes past the carriages of the steam locomotive, where sight-seers can expect to see every facet of the Scottish countryside from mountains, lochs, forests and rivers to coastline.
It’s fair to say that passengers on this special journey will get to experience sights that rival anywhere else in Europe, and possibly the world.
There’s Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in Britain), Loch Morar (the deepest freshwater loch), and Loch Nevis (the deepest seawater loch in Europe), to name just a few.
Suffice to say you won’t get bored looking out the window!
Fans of the Harry Potter movies might recognise the Jacobite from some of the scenes where Harry travels on the Hogwarts Express, and they’ll definitely recognise the scene where the train puffs its way across the Glenfinnan viaduct, but there’s much more to this journey than Harry Potter.
Read on to find out more.
Things to do on the Jacobite Steam Train
Starting at Fort William you board the train and make your way to your seat in one of the stylish old carriages where the view out the window gives you a glimpse of the mighty Ben Nevis overshadowing the peaceful Highland town.
If you’re a train buff you can take a look inside the engine as it’s prepared for departure, or you can simply sit back and relax and take in the scenery outside.
Just make sure you take the time for frequent looks out the window because once you’re on the move you’ll get the opportunity to enjoy some of the best views in Scotland.
Probably the most impressive part of the journey is the crossing of the 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct which sweeps around the spectacular shores of Loch Shiel, where the Glenfinnan monument can be seen with its memorial to the Highlanders lost during the Jacobite uprising of 1745.
The train also stops at nearby Glenfinnan station where you can stretch your legs and explore the West Highland Railway Museum, before continuing the journey to the coastal town of Mallaig.
If you make a request to the guard you can disembark at the village of Arisaig on the shore of Loch nan Ceall, or you can stay onboard to the end of the line.
Mallaig is a quiet fishing town that has fully taken advantage of the business that comes from the Jacobite so there are plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy during the hour-long stopover before you have to head back to Fort William.
Luckily this is just enough time to step onto one of the cruise boats that will take you around the harbour, which is a highly-recommended excursion as you’ll get to see seals, dolphins and maybe even minke whales as you sail around the rugged coastline.
Stepping back onboard the train for the return journey gives you the opportunity to take in any sights that you might have missed on your way up, and during the journey you can even enjoy a delicious high tea and artisan cheese board at your private table.
Coupled with a glass or two of bubbly and the fantastic views across Scotland, The Jacobite Steam Train is one rail journey that you’ll be unlikely to ever forget.
- It’s one of the nicest train journeys you’ll ever go on, especially so once you get to Glenfinnan.
- The views are amazing. I recommend heading back to Glenfinnan at some point so you can look back at the viaduct from ground level.
- It’s a great way to experience the best of Scotland, from lochs to forests and glens to mountains.
- Get to the windows well in advance of getting to the viaduct because everyone will be clamouring to get photos.
- The scenic boat trips from Mallaig are nice, but in winter they’re going to be bitterly cold. Maybe save a trip for the summer.
- Pay the extra and go first class as the carriages are so much nicer than standard class.
Photos and video
Address and map
Tom-na-Faire Station Square,
PH33 6TQ, UK
Jacobite Railway Route Map
Tickets and opening times
Check the West Coast railways website for updated times and prices.
The Jacobite runs from Monday 9th April to Friday 26th October (Monday to Friday). Saturday and Sunday from Saturday 2nd June to Sunday 30th September.
The Jacobite runs from Monday 14th May to Friday 14th September (Monday to Friday). Saturday and Sunday from Saturday 16th June to Sunday 2nd September.
Getting there: Bus stop nearby, Car park on-site, Train station nearby
Getting around: Easy-access paths, Disabled access, Pushchair access
On-site conveniences: Hot drinks, Snacks, Toilets (all available on the train). Restaurants and gift shops in Mallaig