A place amongst the pines
Glenfinnan, at the head of Loch Shiel, may be best known for its monument and Harry Potter viaduct, but it's also a great place to watch pinewood wildlife. Forget the mythical dragons and phoenixes of Harry Potter's world – come and discover amazing real creatures. Look out for darting dragonflies, the oldest and fastest insects in the world, as well as tiny butterflies, secretive otters and soaring golden eagles.
The car park at the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre can be very busy.
Stop for a rest
There are toilets and a café at the National Trust for Scotland Visitor Centre, and places to eat and drink in the village of Glenfinnan. There are public toilets, shops and plenty of cafés and restaurants at Fort William.
Glenfinnan Pinewood Trail
Cross the marshes around the Callop River and climb up onto the pine-clad knoll of Torran Dubhais for some great views across Loch Shiel.
Largely firm surface. Includes rough, narrow earthy section, with rocky and muddy parts. Some steep slopes, stone steps and long sections of boardwalk. Trail accessed across a busy road.
¾ miles / 1.2 km Allow ¾ hours
For an alternative view of Glenfinnan and to escape the crowds, take this tranquil scenic trail amongst stately Scots Pines and sessile oaks. Starting just across the road from the visitor centre, you’ll see lofty Caledonian pines reaching for the sky and gnarled 'Granny' pines on rocky knolls as you go. These trees were already well-established when Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard at Glenfinnan in 1745.On the way, watch out for red deer, golden eagles and, in summer, dragonflies and butterflies.
Mountain biking trails
Glenfinnan’s secret side
Glenfinnan is a popular stop for visitors attracted by the dramatic lochside monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie. The Harry Potter films have made the nearby viaduct famous too!
Less well known are Glenfinnan’s peaceful pinewoods. A stroll through the ancient pines is a chance to discover the wonderful wildlife that thrives alongside the tourists and to enjoy alternative bird’s-eye views of the monument, viaduct and passing steam trains.
A special place
Across this area are precious remnants of the ancient Caledonian Pinewoods that once stretched across Scotland, now mixed in with broadleaf and conifer woodland. With the help of the community of Glenfinnan we are gradually restoring the pinewoods here, replacing the conifers with native species like Scots pine, oak, birch and willow.
Wildlife thrives in the open pinewoods. Watch out for majestic red deer amongst the trees and badgers emerging at dusk. Dragonflies dart over the water in summer and butterflies dance in the glades. Otters leave their mark here and golden and sea eagles also visit.
Princes, steam trains and wizards
The landmark monument commemorates the final Jacobite rising in 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s doomed attempt to take the throne for the Stuart family. The National Trust for Scotland’s Glenfinnan Visitor Centre is the place to find out more about the monument, the prince and the Jacobite cause.
If you’re into trains and tales of schoolboy wizards, the Glenfinnan Station Museum tells the story of the magnificent viaduct that sweeps around the head of the glen, as well as of the Highland Line, steam trains and the Hogwarts Express.
How to get here
From Fort William take the A830 west for 15½ miles (25 km). Look out for the National Trust for Scotland Visitor Centre at Glenfinnan on your right. The car park is at grid reference NM 907 806.
PH37 4LT is the nearest postcode.
There is a regular bus service from Fort William to Mallaig that stops at Glenfinnan. Find timetables at Traveline Scotland.
Looking for more trails?
If you're ready for a strenuous trail with superb views over a remote and dramatic loch, head to Ardmolich. On a clear day you can see the Small Isles of Rhum, Eigg and Muck on the horizon.
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