Europe/ UK

The Real Life Hogwarts Express

I really love Harry Potter. The books on my shelf are battered from being read so often and just hearing the theme music can bring tears to my eyes on a particularly emotional day. Goosebumps at the least. Even as I’m writing this, I realised that I’m wearing Harry Potter socks completely by accident – Ravenclaw, if you must know. While I’ve visited the studio tour and theme park in Universal Studios Hollywood, seeing a filming location ‘in the wild’ isn’t something I’d ticked off my bucket list until earlier this week when we found the real life Hogwarts Express.

Glenfinnan Viaduct was first used in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and if you’re a fan, you’ll definitely recognise it. Harry and Ron flew their stolen Ford Anglia around the train and through the arches on their disastrous journey to Hogwarts – damn you Dobby!

Glenfinnan Viaduct Harry Potter

The grand, curved viaduct makes for impressive viewing alone but we were on a mission. With the Jacobite train crossing just twice daily (once in the winter), we took the hill at speed to get in position for when it came around the corner. After the 90 minute drive from where we were staying in Oban, I was not missing that train! It usually crosses the viaduct at around 10.55am and 3pm but it’s always worth checking the times before you set off.

How to find the best viewing point for the Jacobite ‘Hogwarts Express’ train

I completely owe finding this photo destination to Louise who posted an incredible photo of the steam train on Twitter with perfect timing, just a week before my trip to Scotland. This slight jog of the memory was all I needed and she kindly let me quiz her about the perfect location to photograph the train.

  • Park in Glenfinnan visitor centre car park. The charge is just £2 and while there’s a viewing platform there, the panoramic view you get for walking just a little further is well worth it.
  • Turn right out of the car park, walk over the bride and you’ll quickly come to another small car park.
  • Turn right into here and a footpath will take you down towards the viaduct. From here, you can walk underneath it and up the hill to your desired photo spot.

After a twenty minute wait where I strained my ears for the sound of a steam train, the Hogwarts Express finally appeared with a jolly toot of the horn.

Real Hogwarts Express

Watching the train come across the viaduct was a really amazing experience – I honestly felt like I’d been transported into one of the films. It is possible to ride the train which is a pretty tempting prospect but I’d probably be disappointed that the Trolley Witch wouldn’t come round to offer us Chocolate Frogs. Instead, just seeing the view from afar and pretending it was full of students clutching their Hogwarts letters was good enough for me. Even if I should have been one of them…

We stumbled across another filming location completely by accident on the way back to the car. The Glenfinnan Monument is located next to Loch Shiel which was apparently used to film some of the ‘Black Lake’ scenes in the Harry Potter films. You know where Harry sprouts gills in the Triwizard tourmament and flops into the water? That’s here!

Harry Potter Black Lake Scotland

So, this blog post basically turned into a total fangirl essay about Harry Potter but hey, that’s ok. It’s not just me out there who feels this way is it? After all this time? Always.

After that horrendously cheesy ending, I’ll be off but don’t forget to check out some of my other posts below for some more of my favourite Harry Potter locations…

Laura x

Read more about my love of Harry Potter…

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood

Visiting the Warner Bros Studio Tour, London

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Finding the Real Life Hogwarts Express in Scotland | Wander with Laura

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  • Reply
    Katie Louise Halsall
    September 24, 2017 at 11:32 am

    What a view! Ah man, I definitely need to get myself up here some day.

    • Reply
      January 24, 2018 at 8:09 am

      Yesss I hope you make it!! Definitely worth the trip 🙂

  • Reply
    October 28, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Ahh I’ve been there too! Amazing spot. Great post !!

    • Reply
      January 24, 2018 at 8:10 am

      Aww thank you 🙂

  • Reply
    October 28, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Wow! Hogward Express in real life <3 The view is amazing and I would love to try that!

    • Reply
      January 24, 2018 at 8:11 am

      It’s beautiful! I hope you can visit one day 🙂

  • Reply
    Lynne Nieman
    October 29, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Fun post! I road the train back in May of this year. I had just finished walking the 96 mile West Highland Way and this was my reward. It was pretty cool, although I was pretty tired to enjoy it as much as I should. Plus the weather was gorgeous so it didn’t feel much like Harry Potter. But like you I’m a huge fan. I’ll keep that spot in mind for my next trip to Scotland so I can get some good images.

    • Reply
      January 24, 2018 at 8:12 am

      Woa 96 miles! That’s crazy 🙂

  • Reply
    Kasey at babies
    October 30, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Girl! I am so right there with you on the HP fangirling, haha. (Though I have strong feelings about Snape and have not forgiven him for all his bullshit bullying behavior despite the eventual ‘Always’ revelation LOL). Reading the illustrated versions of the books to my son right now and it is amazing. But I digress. Lovely pictures! Sounds like a fun experience. Xoxo

    • Reply
      January 24, 2018 at 8:13 am

      Aww I’ve got the first illustrated book and they are pretty magical to read! And I’m in agreement about Snape although Alan Rickman…what a man!

  • Reply
    January 23, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    This sounds like a really lovely ride. I am not a big Harry Potter fan but I really like the sound of this. I would certainly have jumped on. 🙂

    • Reply
      January 24, 2018 at 8:17 am

      It’s beautiful and yes, you can ride the train too! 🙂

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