Catriona and I were more than a little confused when our train pulled to an unexpected halt in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. And why was the woman seated behind us waking up her 9-year-old son?
“Harry Potter” he breathed with his nose pressed up against the windowpane.
I had already seen so much breathtaking scenery on Islay and Tiree that I think in a way I was starting to take it for granted. Like, apparently Scotland is just drop dead gorgeous everywhere, no big deal. Except this train ride was a big deal.
And yes, we were passing over the bridge that the Hogwarts Express zooms over in Harry Potter. So I guess this train ride is also magical. Like… literally? Maybe!
known in the non-magical world as Glenfinnan Viaduct
After our stay on Tiree Catriona and I got a ferry to Oban. I had heard really mixed things about Oban – from raves about how gorgeous its location is to complaints that it is gray and rainy everyday ever. But I guess we lucked out, because it was sunny and gorgeous when we arrived and I couldn’t have loved it more!
I mean, when we walked up to our guest house for the night and were greeted by this view, how could I not fall in love?
We only had a few hours in Oban so in the morning we headed straight up to McCaig’s Tower (which was actually just a couple of minutes away from our guest house) for some more of those famous Oban views.
Seriously, how pretty are Oban’s surroundings? I know we were lucky with the clear skies, but I can’t imagine Oban not looking magical, even in the rain.
After stopping for a quick coffee on the harbor (because priorities) we hopped on the train for Mallaig, where the next day we’d be getting the ferry to the Isle of Skye.
And that’s where the magic started. We could have gotten a bus from Oban to Skye instead, but I’m so glad we opted for the train! The scenery just got prettier and prettier, and while I had had big plans of editing photos and putting together my Tiree video on the journey, I ended up spending most of it with my forehead pressed against the train window. Why is Scotland so pretty? It can’t be fair.
It’s no wonder the West Highland Railway Line keeps making lists of the world’s best train journeys. You can actually go full on tourist and take a steam train along the line – we drove past one and it did look like loads of fun. But even the regular train felt a bit special, and I loved that they still stopped on the Glenfinnan Viaduct for everyone to get in their Harry Potter selfies.
And guys, I also just realized that I took some video clips in Oban and on the train that I completely forgot about, so I’ve quickly pasted them together to give you a bit of a better sense of the experience. Don’t mind the smudge on the train window – that’s from my forehead of course!
The ferry from Tiree to Oban with CalMac Ferries took four hours and cost £10.30.
In Oban we stayed at Dunheanish Guest House, which is probably the nicest place I’ve stayed in years. The view was amazing, the rooms gorgeous, the owner was super nice, and breakfast was delicious. Check current prices for the Dunheanish Guest House
The train from Oban to Mallaig was £32.10 and we had to change in Crianlarich.
What to pack for Scotland
Scottish weather is unpredictable! I packed a lot of cold weather clothing for this trip, because Scotland, but then it ended up being sunny and incredibly hot for most of the trip. So you’ll want to bring a good variety of clothing, so that you’re prepared for whatever Scottish weather might throw at you.
Probably most important, though, is rain gear – you don’t want the weather to stop you from exploring the islands. I swear by these rain pants. Here are a few of my other top packing essentials for island hopping in Scotland:
Van @ Snow in Tromso says
Scotland really is a beautiful country and I’d love to explore more of it – especially the Harry Potter bridge 😉
It was definitely one of those trips where I left with more places on my bucket list than I had started off with. Scotland really is something special!
These photos are absolutely stunning! I live in Scotland right now and am definitely putting Oban on my “To-Do” list!
Oh you should definitely go!
Lauren Bishop says
So magical! I’ve only visited Scotland briefly but I was as enchanted as you were and I can’t wait to go back. Bookmarking this train journey as something to do for sure!
Right? I can’t wait to see more of Scotland either.
Scotland is just looking better and better! That Harry Potter stop though!
I had to choose between visiting Isle of Skye or Oban last summer. Your photos are beautiful, so next time, I am visiting Oban 🙂 By the way, is it Catriona MacArthur in your short video? #TheWeeklyPostcard
Yes, that’s Catriona! Is she famous?
Sorry, Silvia, just saw your reply as it had gone into my spam folder. Catriona is indeed well known to Chevening scholars 🙂
Aah of course!
Sunny days! That doesn’t happen very much in Scotland, but it makes for even better pictures. I don’t think it matters where I travel in the world; Scotland will always be my favourite place on earth! Great post!
It is particularly magical in the sun 🙂
This really is magical! Oban looks breathtaking!
I was so surprised by Oban! I think we were also super lucky with the weather.
Ashley @ Married Wanderlust Love says
Scottland looks amazing! While I do not like Harry Potter (do not hate me…pleaseee 🙂 ) the views from McCaig’s Tower looks amazing and so picturesque.
Haha a brave admission! The views really were so lovely though.
Madi | Restless Worker says
Scotland is my top bucket list destination right now. I am DYING to go. I still can’t believe I haven’t made it there yet. These pictures are gorgeous and make me want to go even more! Love it. Especially the viaduct, as a huge HP fan 😉
You went to Oban and didn’t even mention the word “whisky”? Damn girl! 😉 But looks like there’s more to Oban than one of my favourite drinks 🙂
Haha I thought you guys might have had enough of my whisky talk after my post on the whisky festival on Islay. As if that’s possible.
Five years I lived in Oban, and I never once took that train! And me, a self-confessed train geek! tsk!
You were so spectacularly lucky with the weather, when the sun shines on the west of Scotland, it is heaven on earth.
Gorgeous pics, makes me miss it, just a wee bit. 😉
It really was like heaven! I only wish I could see Rauland in such spectacular weather someday… haha
I completely fell in love with Oban when I visited earlier this summer! The views (and setting) really are incredible. Your posts make me wish I’d had more time and gotten out to the Hebrides. Such magical beaches! I never thought I’d go to Scotland and fall in love with a beach/sea town. As you said it’s definitely not all cows and castles!
Right? I was surprised to find so many gorgeous beaches there!