Glenfinnan Viaduct – Glenfinnan, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Now famous as the "Harry Potter bridge," this impressive concrete viaduct has long been an icon in its own right. 


This giant curving viaduct is an iconic scene for any Harry Potter fans and hopeful Hogwarts attendees. But even if the Hogwarts Express hadn’t been shown chugging along the railroad on its way to the famous school of witchcraft and wizardry, this viaduct would still deserve to be an icon in its own right. The setting promises excellent views as the viaduct overlooks the waters of Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Monument.

Built in the 1890s, this railroad viaduct was the first structure in Britain to be built with mass concrete. It was this innovative building method that allows the overpass to remain in such good shape today.

The viaduct was constructed by Robert McAlpine and Sons under the control of Sir Robert McAlpine, who became so fond of constructing in concrete that he was given the nickname “Concrete Bob.” The crew built the 100-foot-tall, 416-yard-long bridge along an elegant curve, which lets train passengers look out the window and catch fantastic views of the other end of the train chugging along the tracks against a backdrop of beautiful Highland scenery.

Despite its importance as a civil engineering icon and the clear beauty of its surroundings, the railway didn’t gain fame until it was used in several of the Harry Potter movies. In particular, fans will notably remember the scene featuring the viaduct, the Hogwarts Express, and Arthur Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia. It’s even nicknamed the “Harry Potter Bridge.” The Glenfinnan Viaduct appears on some banknotes as well. 

Apparently, since its brief role in the movies, the British Transport Police have had to put up signs to discourage trespassing following a number of near-misses between trains and Harry Potter fans, as the overpass is still very much in use.

The diesel-powered West Highland Line frequently runs across it and there are regular steam-hauled excursions available in the summer. The iconic Jacobite steam train runs across the viaduct to Fort William and Mallaig. The train may pause at the viaduct, time permitting, to allow visitors to take in the magnificent views. 

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