My lifelong dream of being whisked off to Hogwarts finally (almost) came true. Although we didn’t make it to the school itself (my letter just got lost in the mail – I swear!), we did get to make the journey through the Highlands.
After arriving in Fort William the night before, we woke up bright and early and READY TO RIDE THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS!
Before boarding, my mom and I walked down the platform to get a good look at the train.
We stopped in the gift shop on the train, which had a few movie-related items. I feel like they could have added a lot more souvenirs and taken advantage of all the fans on the train. I was expecting more Bertie Bots and Chocolate Frogs! We did end up buying a terrific book though, which has turned out to be a great read:
Unfortunately, the first class seats were a bit too expensive, and had already sold out by the time I ordered tickets. The seats did look cozy though!
I was simply thrilled to have a seat at all, so I wasn’t too envious (although I was jealous of the complimentary cookies they got). After walking to the back of the train and finding our seats, we were off!
I bought a souvenir map for a pound, and was fascinated to learn about the places we were going to be passing. The train departed from the station at Fort William, and ended a little over two hours later in the small fishing town of Mallaig.
The best place to be if you’re looking for that iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct shot is at the back of the train. It comes up within the first half hour, so move towards the back early to claim a spot! The conductor will announce when the train is approaching the viaduct, so if you’re not paying attention you still won’t miss it!
The best place to sit on the train is on the lefthand side, since that is where most of the views are!
My mom and I were all ready and poised to get the perfect picture and….it began to rain as we approached the viaduct. The rear window didn’t open, so I got a bit of a foggy/rainy view.
Never fear though! I ended up getting my “perfect shot” on the way back, so keep reading to see the money shot! Luckily it stopped raining right after we crossed the bridge.
The scenery was captivating, just like the rest of the Highlands. The weather was constantly changing; one moment is was sunny and gorgeous, the next cloudy and threatening. It kept me on my toes!
The first stop was shortly after the Viaduct. We had about 15 minutes to get off the train and explore the area.
There was a gift shop, which unfortunately I didn’t have time to look in. They also had a mini train museum, with a conductor showing how they switch the train tracks for multiple trains. It looked a bit complicated and like it would be hard work!
They also had an old dinning car that served lunch. Since we had such a short amount of time, I didn’t get to see the inside. It reminded me of the old Boxcar Children book series that I read in elementary school! Those books made me want to live on a train and travel the country.
Once that excitement was over, we had over two hours to sit back and relax. Because our seats were facing backwards and my mom and I both get motion sickness and need to be facing forward, we stood near the windows and had a perfect view.
Nearly lost an eye, hand, and at one point my head by breaking the rules and leaning out the window for this shot. Worth it.
And then the sun finally came out, and it was gorgeous the rest of the way!
I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that Scotland actually has some wonderful beaches.
When we finally reached Mallaig, it had turned into a sunny (albeit chilly) afternoon, although that did not last long. When I had booked the Jacobite train tickets, the return tickets had already sold out, so unfortunately I had to book us on a different train back. This meant that we had four hours to kill in Mallaig.
After eating the best shrimp of my life and taking a waterfall-filled walk, we were back on a train to Fort William!
This time, I had much more luck crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct!
There may be a stairway to heaven, but I think I prefer the train ride to Hogwarts. On my tombstone, I want them to write, not that I was a good friend or daughter or mother, but that I RODE THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS!
Peace out Muggle World. I think I may have reeked myself out to death. Is that a thing? Or did I just invent that?
My favorite picture of the day: