Highland Scotland boasts some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, so it is no surprise that the steam train scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed with this stunning Highland backdrop. Why not follow in Harry’s footsteps and soak up the sights is by train? Leaving the car behind means that you are able to relax, kick back and enjoy the view.
The West Highland Line
Scotland’s famous West Highland Line has been voted Top Rail Journey in the world by readers of travel magazine Wanderlust, and it is easy to see why. Beginning in Glasgow and finishing at the western coastal town of Mallaig, this route takes you through rolling hills and lush greenery past lochs, valleys and coastal views. Look closely and you may catch glimpses of Highland cattle and wild deer. Arguably the focal point of the trip is passing over the century-old Glenfinnan viaduct. This 21-arched bridge snakes majestically through the Glenfinnan valley, and has been viewed by thousands of tourists the world over.
If you book in advance, tickets will cost you around £45 return for the approximate five hour journey. And if you have a Eurail pass (valid in Scotland) or Britrail pass, you can hop on whenever you feel like it. It is worth mentioning that if you are aged 16 – 25 and already have a valid Eurail pass, you will get a 50% discount on your Britrail pass.
Over the sea to Skye
Once in Mallaig, you are on the doorstep to the Scottish Highlands and islands. The beautiful Isle of Skye is a short half hour ferry journey away. This ferry journey will cost you around £6 return, with a further £33 if you have a car.
Skye is known for its white sandy beaches and clear blue sea. If you are lucky enough to be there on a sunny day, the ocean comes alive and shimmers turquoise in the sunlight – a beautiful sight to behold from the hills above. You can visit Loch Coruisk by boat from Elgol, which is on the south-west of the island. This Loch is one of the most wildest and untouched places in Britain so it’s really worth the trip.
Where to Eat
When travelling in the west coast of Scotland, you will inevitably find some fantastic seafood restaurants. And when you are surrounded by the sea, it is the freshest you will find. Go to Creelers restaurant (Broadford, Isle of Skye, IV49 9AQ) in the south-east of Skye and the chances are the seafood you choose would have been caught within a few hours of being served. With views over Broadford Bay, this restaurant is quaint and the food is tasty and authentic.
Catching the train back to the hustle and bustle of central Scotland may seem like a chore after the serenity of the Highlands and Islands. But at least you know that on your way back, you have that world-famous train journey and the fabulous scenery to enjoy up all over again.
About the Author: Jessica Smith is a media studies graduate with a passion for creative writing. She like quirky things. Unique things. Things that make you think. Things that make you take heed. She like to write about these things and share her experiences.