The 'Harry Potter bridge' isn't the only spellbinding sight or experience in Scotland.
That's the message from tourism bosses, who are urging travellers to keep on driving beyond the now world-famous Glenfinnan Viaduct that the Hogwarts Express thunders over in the boy-wizard movies.
The viaduct sits just north of the A830, also known as the Road to the Isles, which links Fort William with Mallaig and is considered one of the best drives in the country. But tourism chiefs say the viaduct is as far as many visitors get.
The 'Harry Potter bridge' (pictured) isn't the only spellbinding sight or experience in Scotland. That's the message from tourism bosses
Campaign #MyRoadtotheIsles aims to encourage tourists to 'explore beyond the bridge'.
It is being spearheaded by CalMac Ferries, which connects the Road to the Isles to several islands off Scotland's west coast, and the Road to the Isles Marketing Group, which supports various tourist destinations in the region.
The campaign acknowledges that the Glenfinnan Viaduct is 'magnificent', but shines a spotlight on the lesser-known attractions and experiences in the region.
The Isle of Eigg is one of many highlights beyond the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It is dominated by a colossal 1289ft-high ridge formed from volcanic rock called An Sgurr (pictured). It's vertical on three sides, but the spine is hikeable from one end
Traigh Golf Course is the most westerly course on the UK mainland
These include Camusdarach Beach, Rhu Point and the Silver Sands of Morar, 'with their azure and aquamarine seas and immaculate white dunes'.
The list also features playing golf amid 'breathtaking scenery' at Traigh Golf Course, seven miles from Mallaig, searching for Morag, the Loch Ness monster's lesser-known cousin, said to inhabit the depths of Loch Morar, which with a depth of 310m (1,017ft), is Britain's deepest freshwater body of water. It has a Harry Potter link, too, having been used for a number of background shots in the movies.
The campaign points out that there are also 'mesmerising islands' beyond the Harry Potter bridge such as the Small Isles (Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna), the Isle of Skye and the Hebrides – 'the Maldives, but in Scotland'.
There's also Knoydart, a community-owned peninsula described as the most remote spot in mainland Britain.
The Isle of Canna is the westernmost of the Small Isles archipelago in the Scottish Inner Hebrides
Sandy beaches on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, part of the 'Scottish Maldives'
Morag, the Loch Ness monster's lesser-known cousin, is said to inhabit the depths of Loch Morar, pictured, which with a depth of 310m (1,017ft), is Britain's deepest freshwater body of water. It has a Harry Potter link, too, having been used for a number of background shots in the movies
The A830, also known as the Road to the Isles, links Fort William with Mallaig and is considered one of the best drives in the country
Sine MacKellaig-Davis, Chair of Road to the Isles Marketing Group, said: 'Whilst some 350,000 tourists visited the Glenfinnan Viaduct and monument before Covid, a large percentage of those didn't extend their visit west, and missed out on the large variety of arts, culture, wildlife, beaches, sunsets and sights found beyond the bridge.
'The viaduct and monument are incredible sights to see and we're extremely fortunate that tourists flock to see it, but there is so much more to the region.
'As we start to move in the right direction following a tough year for tourism and hospitality, we want people to travel the road less travelled, spend some more time immersed in the true West Highland culture, and discover the abundance of hidden gems on the coast that will excite, inspire and entertain.'
WEST SCOTLAND HIGHLIGHTS, FROM THE HARRY POTTER BRIDGE TO THE SCOTTISH MALDIVES
Beautiful sandy beaches
Who needs international travel when you can take a beautiful walk on one of the many incredible beaches, such as Camusdarach Beach, Rhu Point or the Silver Sands of Morar with their azure and aquamarine seas and immaculate white dunes that have seduced filmmakers for years, argues the #MyRoadtotheIsles campaign.
It adds: ‘With a variety of beaches to rival the Caribbean, all you must do is decide which one. You can stroll across the beach, leave only footprints in the sand and take away amazing memories, captivated by the majestic Island backdrops.’
Stunning Camusdarach Beach, one of many in Scotland that tourism bosses say rival the Caribbean
Traigh and try again – to get a hole in one
‘Play a game of golf with breathtaking scenery at Traigh Golf Course,’ says the campaign, ‘a course steeped in history, with avid golfers playing at Traigh’s nine-hole course since the 1900’s.
It is the most westerly course on the UK mainland, and presents the golfer with all the traditional challenges of a classic seaside links that would rival any course in the Algarve. Located seven miles from Mallaig, Traigh (pronounced “try”) means “beach” in Gaelic and is located in the most beautiful location imaginable.’
Mesmerising islands – and the most remote spot in mainland Britain
Knoydart, a community-owned peninsula described as the most remote spot in mainland Britain
Beyond the Harry Potter bridge lie the Small Isles (Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna), the Isle of Skye and the Hebrides – ‘the Maldives, but in Scotland’.
There’s also Knoydart, a community-owned peninsula described as the most remote spot in mainland Britain.
The campaign says: ‘Hop aboard one of the incredible charter services from either Mallaig or Arisaig and explore. Daytrips with a picnic or an island adventure awaits.’
Magnificent history and architecture
The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a must-see. This iconic ‘Harry Potter bridge’ was the first structure in Britain to be built with mass concrete, in the 1890s. The campaign points out that there’s also the Glenfinnan Monument, which marks the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie first rallied the clans to his cause in 1745, the start of his ill-fated campaign to reclaim the throne.
It adds: ‘For culture vultures, the area is steeped in history and the celebration of the area’s heritage, wildlife and culture can be experienced in every unique location. Crofting, covert war opps, myths of buried treasure, churches and ruined monasteries, vitrified forts, traditional working fishing ports, music and culture are in abundance on the Road to the Isles.’
Some of the freshest seafood in the world
‘Incredible langoustines, mouth-watering mussels, hand-dived scallops, multi-award-winning smoked kippers and incredible artisan baking washed down with a locally brewed ale, gin or rum – no it is not the Greek islands, it is just some of the freshly landed seafood on offer from the clear pure waters around the beautiful Road to the Isles coastline,’ says the tourism campaign. ‘Dining out is part of the experience and all the restaurants offer impeccable quality, from the cosy inns to fine dining or takeaway fish and chips.’
Source: The #MyRoadtotheIsles tourism campaign