The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a railway viaduct on the West Highland Line in Glenfinnan, Inverness-shire, Scotland. Located at the top of Loch Shiel in the West Highlands of Scotland, the viaduct overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel.
Construction of the extension from Fort William to Mallaig that carries the West Highland Line began in January 1897, and the line opened on 1 April 1901. Even though the extension was still under construction, the Glenfinnan Viaduct was complete by October 1898 and began being used to transport materials across the valley.
The viaduct is constructed from mass concrete, and consists of 21 semicircular arched spans of 50 feet (15 m) each, and at 416 yards (380 m), it is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland. It is used throughout the year by ScotRail passenger trains that run between Glasgow Queen Street and Mallaig. Most of the trains are diesel, but during summer months the heritage Jacobite steam train operates along the line. It’s the summertime trains with their billowing white smoke that make for the best photos, and it is these trains that are subsequently the most traveled.
There is a legend that a horse fell into one of the piers during construction in 1898 or 1899. The story of the horse was so persistent that in 1987, Professor Roland Paxton, the British engineering historian tried to find evidence of a horse at Glenfinnan using a fisheye camera. He did not find anything.
Glenfinnan Viaduct Facts
- The viaduct is so well known that it’s commemorated on Bank of Scotland £10 notes printed in 2007.
- The viaduct appeared in four Harry Potter Films.
- As well as being prominently featured in several Harry Potter films, the viaduct has also shown up in Ring of Bright Water, Charlotte Gray, Monarch of the Glen, and Stone of Destiny.
- The Glenfinnan Viaduct was built at a cost of GB £18,904.
- The viaduct was constructed of poured concrete without any metal reinforcement.
- Though it appears to tower over the landscape, the viaduct is only 100 feet (30 m) tall.
- The viaduct is one of the most popular sites along the West Highland Line.