West Highland Line, Glenfinnan

Outdoors

Sit back and enjoy the ride! Travelling by rail is a wonderful way to take in Scotland's beauty, particularly if you plan to take the West Highland Line, hailed as being one of the greatest rail journeys in the world.

Using the Spirit of Scotland Travelpass , you can start in Glasgow and experience the sights and sounds of Scotland's largest city before making your way west on the train to Oban. Then it's on to Fort William before taking the final part of the train line to the fishing port of Mallaig. The places listed have been recommended by staff from our VisitScotland iCentre network - they are the people who really know what's hot in their local areas!

This journey could be the start of a bigger island hopping adventure; from Mallaig you can sail to the Isle of Skye, the largest of the Inner Hebrides, or to the Small Isles, namely the islands of Muck, Eigg, Rum and Canna. Oh, the possibilities!

Transport

Bus

Days

4

Miles

200

Route

From Glasgow to Oban by train, then from Oban to Fort William by bus. Along the final part of the West Highland Line to Mallaig.

Highlights

Fascinating museums, a ferry journey to an island, the mountain gondola, beautiful Highland scenery

Areas Covered

West

see full route

Day 1

overview

Glasgow

Glasgow makes a perfect starting point with its great travel links to the rest of Scotland, the United Kingdom and indeed the world. It's tempting to hop straight on the train and head to the West Highlands - but then you'd miss all the wonders of Glasgow! Take a day to see some of the city's highlights before you start your rail adventure. Consider taking the City Sightseeing Bus, which links these great attractions.
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Glasgow © Kenny Lam

Riverside Museum

Not only is the Riverside Museum one of Scotland's most interesting architectural works, but as Glasgow's Museum of Transport it gives a unique insight into the city's past through hundreds of cars, bikes, locomotives, trams, ship models and more. Hope on board the Glenlee, a striking Tall Ship built in the late 1800s for transporting cargo.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Situated in Glasgow's West End, this gallery and art collection has a vast range of fascinating items. Head inside this beautiful red sandstone building and see exhibits from the natural world, arms and armoury, great masterpieces, ancient societies and much, much more. You might see Sir Roger, an Asian elephant, fresh from careful restoration!

Tennents Wellpark Brewery

Feeling thirsty? Then plan time for a brewery tour. The sightseeing bus will take you close to the Tennents Caledonian Brewery, where the famous Tennents lager is made. Book a tour and uncover beer making secrets. Or, if you feel like packing in another attraction, stay on the bus and get off at the People's Palace - you can also have a refreshing beverage at WEST Brewery afterwards!

People's Palace and Winter Gardens

It's no secret that Glasgow's people are perhaps the city's best asset, and at the People's Palace you can learn about some great characters as you uncover Glasgow's fascinating social history. Afterwards, admire the impressive Doulton Fountain which stands nearby on Glasgow Green, or enjoy a quiet moment in the lush greenery of the Winter Gardens.

Catch a gig in the UNESCO City of Music

It would be criminal to spend time in Glasgow without checking out the city's legendary music scene! As a UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow attracts all kinds of talent, from international superstars to hotly-tipped new acts. You're bound to find something on which will tickle your musical taste buds, with dozens of music halls across the city. Find out what's on, or perhaps drop in to King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, one of the Glasgow's iconic small venues.

Day 2

overview

Oban

Board an early train and take the West Highland Line to Oban, a journey which reveals Scotland's great geographic contrasts. Along the way you'll travel alongside the River Clyde, through Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, passing the hills and glens of Argyll, before finally ending up at this cheery seaside town where the train terminates.
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    Ferry Bus

Tobermory

Fancy an island adventure? If you've got enough time you might manage a trip to the pretty island capital of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. Close to the station is the ferry terminal, where services regularly run between Oban and Craignure. A number of ferries are met by a local bus, which takes around 50 minutes. Walk around the bay, pop into local shops and museums, and enjoy fresh seafood in one of the local eateries. Take your camera - Tobermory is very photogenic indeed!

McCaig's Tower

The west coast is famed for its dramatic sunsets, and should you be so lucky to catch one, admire it from the coliseum-like McCaig's Tower. Even if it's not the most dazzling of evenings, a walk up the hill to this folly is well worth it - from the viewing platform, views stretch right over the town centre and out towards the surrounding islands. Wander back down to main hub and explore the cosy pubs and restaurants.

Day 3

overview

Fort William

Rather than having to retrace your steps on the train (the West Highland Line runs from Glasgow to Crianlarich, where the line divides, part of it running to Oban, while the other part runs to Mallaig via Fort William), you can use the Spirit of Scotland Travelpass to take the Citylink bus directly from Oban to Fort William. This Highland town sits in the shadow of the mighty Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain.

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Ben Nevis, Fort William

Nevis Range

If you want to get a true sense of why Fort William is known as the Outdoor Capital of Scotland, then take the 41 Stagecoach bus service to Nevis Range. Travel up in the mountain gondola to the north face of Aonach Mor, which lies just two peaks from Ben Nevis, and enjoy splendid panoramic views. The Nevis Range boasts a host of great activities, including walking, mountain biking, cycling, high rope courses and - for the brave - paragliding! It also hosts the Mountain Bike World Cup every year.

West Highland Museum

Back in the town of Fort William, head to the West Highland Museum. It holds a treasure trove of items which reveal fascinating insights into the past. You can discover more about the Jacobite Risings and the legendary Bonnie Prince Charlie - his waistcoat is featured as part of the display. See the weapon thought to be used in the notorious Appin murder of 1752 and uncover Highland life in centuries gone by.

Day 4

overview

Mallaig

Board the train at Fort William and enjoy what is arguably the most spectacular section of the West Highland Line as you venture to Mallaig. The train tracks skirts the A830, fondly known as the Road to the Isles. The views from the train include a mix of rugged landscape and undulating coastline, and the train will traverse the impressive Glenfinnan Viaduct at the head of Loch Shiel. In the summer months, the famous Jacobite steam train which featured in the Harry Potter films also journeys along this route.

See what this beautiful route looks like from people in the know and share your own photos in our iKnow Community.

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Glenfinnan Monument, Lochaber © Airborne Lens

Mallaig Heritage Centre

Mallaig is a small but bustling harbour village, once the busiest herring port in Europe. You could easily while away an hour watching boats and ferries come and go at the port. Pop into the Mallaig Heritage Centre and learn about the surrounding landscape and the fishing community. Feeling peckish afterwards? Then head to a café and order something tasty. For a really delicious treat, order a pint of local prawns or Mallaig kippers, if they are on the menu.

Rail... or sail?

For you, this could be as far as your West Highland journey takes you - or it could be the beginning of an awesome island hopping expedition! You can catch the train back to Glasgow and soak up the train journey in its entirety, taking in the breathaking stretch across Rannoch Moor. Alternatively, hop aboard a ferry to the Isle of Skye and explore the stunning island landscapes, or opt to sail to one of the Small Isles and experience tranquil remoteness of a rural Scottish island community.

Summary

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