History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The viaduct was built as part of the West Highland Railway project to between Fort William and Mallaig, a rout that today is known as the Road to the Isles. The section to Mallaig was officially known as the West Highland Extension Railway.
The engineers were Robert MacAlpine and Sons, who built to a design by architects Simpson and Wilson. MacAlpine decided to build the viaduct from concrete, as a cheaper alternative to stone or steel. The viaduct curves 240 metres and reaches 30 metres above the streambed below it. The arches are on a 15 metre span (50 feet). The design is completely utilitarian; there is no decoration or ornamentation at all; a rarity among Victorian engineering projects!
A tradition says that a horse and cart fell into one of the hollow piers and were buried when concrete was pourded into the space. This is apparently untrue, though may indeed be true of the Loch nan Uamh Viaduct further west.
It seems quite likely that the great curve of the viaduct was placed to give the best best possible view to the striking Glenfinnan Monument on the loch shore.
There is a viewing area for the viaduct off a path behind Glenfinnan station museum, but perhaps even better are the viewing area for the Monument itself, behind the visitor centre, or indeed, the top of the Monument itself gives excellent views up the glen to the viaduct. For the ultimate experience, though, you can take the Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Malaig. The train makes daily trips during the summer months.
Our Verdict: The viaduct is in a quite exceptional setting, just up the glen from the head of Loch Shiel. It truly is one of the most beautiful locations in all of the Highlands.
About Glenfinnan Viaduct
Address: A830, Glenfinnan, Highlands, Scotland
Attraction Type: Countryside - Monument
Location: 18 miles west of Fort William on the A830. Access via a footpath from Glenfinnan Station or good views from the Glenfinnan Monument viewing platform
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Opening Details: Open access site, usually accessible at any reasonable time
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Glenfinnan Monument - 0 miles (Historic Building)
Prince's Walk, Kinlochmoidart - 12.8 miles (Countryside)
West Highland Museum - 13.2 miles (Museum)
Road to the Isles - 13.2 miles (Countryside)
Old Inverlochy Castle - 14 miles (Castle)
Castle Tioram - 15.5 miles (Castle)
Clan Cameron Museum - 18.2 miles (Museum)
Glen Coe - 20.1 miles (Countryside)
Nearest Accommodation to Glenfinnan Viaduct:
Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from Glenfinnan Viaduct. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.
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