Chasing the Jacobite steam train (Harry Potter train)

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Last year we decided to visit Scotland. We were always attracted to this country and it was always on our bucket list. So finally, the moment arrived and we started to prepare for the upcoming visit. We had a similar Ireland adventure 2 years ago and we knew exactly what to expect and how we wanted to explore Scotland’s beautiful landscape. During our previous trips in foreign countries we discovered that renting a car is the best way to explore so we decided to do the same in Scotland. It’s not so expensive if you book your car a month or two earlier which we did. But this post isn’t about our visit to Scotland as a whole, this post is about one of the things Scotland is famous for – Jacobite steam train.

I was never a huge fan of Harry Potter series although I watched all of the movies. And if you have watched Harry Potter as well you probably noticed that steam train that take all the wizards to Hogwarts. You could say that Harry Potter series made this train to be even more famous, maybe too famous if you ask me. Because nowadays it’s hard to find a free spot in this train and I believe Harry Potter is to blame for that. Everybody simply wants to ride it because their favorite wizard did that as well.

As we were researching about Scotland and planning our road trip through it we stumbled upon the Jacobite steam train. At that moment I still didn’t know that it was a Harry Potter train but seeing in on Glenfinnan viaduct the case became much clearer. I immediately knew that we’ll chase this train as it passes through Scotland’s wilderness, not because Harry Potter but because it’s the steam train and it passes through some of the most beautiful landscapes of this planet. Can you find a better combination?

“Why trains?” – you might ask yourself. Well, that story goes back to my childhood. With many of male members in my family working on a railroad I spend quite some time playing around trains and wagon wheels. And gradually, love toward trains and railroad was born. It’s a peculiar kind of love because I don’t know many persons who dislike trains. They are simply lovable and still most romantic kind of transport. I recon Zeppelins were also cool but they are no more.

We never intended to ride the Jacobite steam train. You need to book your place few weeks earlier, the train is overcrowded and it’s simply not the kind of experience I would like to have with a steam train ride. So we decided we’re going to shoot the train on the Glenfinnan viaduct, one of the most famous landmarks of this railway. Everything was set, we came to Scotland, we brought all photo equipment as we always do, the drone was ready to take some stunning images… We spent night before sleeping in a car on a parking spot near the Glenfinnan viaduct.

We woke up with a first cars parking near us. It was a rainy day, nothing unusual for Scotland as, I believe, you already know. Although it was raining a lot we still decided to take a drone with us, along with standard cameras. And so we were walking toward the viaduct along some other folks who came here because of the same reason. Some came to see Jacobite steam train and some came to see famous Harry Potter train. Somewhere near the half way toward our shooting point there was a sign clearly saying that drone shooting is forbidden. “Noooo” – I cried inside my mind but at the same time it was easier to deal with a forbidden flying that no flying because of the rain. So to be short, our drone never lifted from the ground and we never got aerial images of Jacobite steam train on Glennfinan Viaduct.

Despite the rain we managed to take some conventional images that came out just right. And that was it, the moment we were preparing for quite some time passed in just few minutes. A little bit sad because of the missed opportunity we choose to drown the sadness in a nearby cafe. The cafe is Glenfinnan dining car and it’s basically wagon made into a nice cozy and warm cafe. A little bit wet from filming the Jacobite steam train in this wagon we found everything we need – coffee, food and warmth. And somewhere in the middle of drinking coffee the ingenious idea came up:”Let’s film the train on its way back from Mallaig!!”. I shared my thoughts with Andrea who wasn’t so happy with the idea. I think she has had enough with being wet from waiting for Jacobite steam train at the first place. She doesn’t share my love toward trains but I managed to “buy” her.

Two hours and dozen of miles later we were in the middle of Scotland waiting for the same train again. With a 2 slight differences – it wasn’t raining and nature was much more beautiful. It was at this moment that I realized that Glenfinnan viaduct is, although very nice, maybe a litlle bit exaggerated as well. So we prepared the photo equipment one more time and drone was ready to fly. Half an hour have passed since we heard steam engine running in the distance and we knew that this was the moment we were waiting for. And what a sight it was, to see a Jacobite steam train pass through Scotland’s landscape leaving nothing but a vapor trail. Magical sight indeed. We ended up with some nice memories of this train in a form of photography.

And so our chase of the Jacobite steam train proved to be successful. If it wasn’t for this train we would probably just drive through this part of Scotland which came out to be one of the best parts we visited in this beautiful country. Some tips regarding the Jacobite steam train? Well try to avoid Glenfinnan viaduct and drive just a few miles out toward the coast. The nature there is simply amazing and there are many spots where you can observe this train from a very close range. As I already mentioned, drone flying is forbidden near the Glenfinnan viaduct so if you plan to do some drone filming you need to choose some other place. But the biggest tip of all would be – if you are visiting Scotland go and see Jacobite train and a landscape it’s passing through. You’re welcome.

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