Glenfinnan is the spot where Charles Edward Stewart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie made landfall in 1745. Having sailed from France to lay claim to the throne, he raised his standard and rallied the clans to his cause. After a successful start to his campaign which took his army as far south as Derby, poor decision making and tactical errors culminated with the bloody rout at Culloden. The Prince took to the hills around Glenfinnan and was aided and abetted by locals despite a £30,000 price on his head. His famous escape whilst disguised as a spinning maid was immortalized in ‘The Skye Boat Song’ . The failed uprising of 1745 lead to brutal reprisals against the clans including the suppression of Gaelic and tartan.
The fallen of the Jacobite uprisings are commemorated by the Glenfinnan Monument which was completed in 1815. The 60 foot tall monument is topped by a statue of a kilted highlander. The Boundary wall has plaques in English, Latin and Gaelic which were approved by none other than Sir Walter Scott.
Commissioned by the Laird of Glenaladale, Alexander Macdonald , the tower is now open to the public and can be scaled via internal stairs. Be warned that access to the viewing platform is through a very small hatch. Sadly, Alexander Macdonald did not live to see the monument completed.
The National Trust Visitor Centre sell tickets to the tower and behind it lies the hill scaled by the Prince to raise the standard. Visitors can follow in his footsteps and take a rather wet footpath to the viewing point. This allows for excellent photo opportunities not only of the monument but also of the Glenfinnan viaduct.
The viaduct was completed in 1898 by Sir Robert McAlpine and links Mallaig to Fort William on the West Highland Railway. Built entirely from concrete its 21 arches were an engineering tour de force at the time. It is reckoned that had the viaduct been constructed from stone it would not still be in use due to the effects of wear and weather.
The viaduct has recently become famous among younger generations thanks to the Harry Potter films. The viaduct has featured in two of the 8 hit films. Indeed, local school children featured in the films as extras with the Jacobite Steam Train standing in for Hogwarts Express.
Visitors and Steam enthusiasts can travel the 41 miles from Fort William to Mallaig on the Jacobite from May 12th to October 24th. The route travels through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country and those wishing to take the trip are advised to book in advance.
Loch Shiel itself is very beautiful and displays its glacial features come rain or shine. The Loch and it shores are home to Golden Eagles, Red deer and many different birds ( Hen harriers, White tailed eagles and red throated divers to name a few).
The Loch and it’s wild residents are best appreciated from the water and cruises are available on the MV Sileas through Loch Shiel Cruises. With trips of varying lengths visitors are encouraged to bring binoculars and long range lenses to capture the hovering Eagles.
Loch Shiel and it’s surrounds are incredibly beautiful and well worth a visit. Whatever the season and whatever the weather you will be rewarded for your journey.
Please share any pictures or experiences you have had in the area.