Harry Potter fans have been wreaking havoc in the quiet Highlands village of Lochaber as they tear down the A830 highway on their way to the Glenfinnan viaduct, a stretch of railway made famous by the wildly popular Harry Potter films. Harry Potter fans have been racing through the village to reach the landmark at speeds of 60mph. Parking is also an issue, with claims by one local resident that erratic parking by Harry Potter fans created an effective roadblock for an ambulance on its way to a life-saving call.
‘There are tens of thousands of people coming a year – I wouldn’t say wandering around aimlessly – but wanting to take in the scenic and historical area, and there’s a 60mph limit going through it.”
He also said that the parking situation was causing problems. Harry Potter fans unable to find parking have been abandoning their vehicles and wandering down the main road on foot to reach the viaduct. The road in question is the A830, a major arterial route. The government agency responsible, Transport Scotland, says that speed limits are reviewed annually and that they are happy with the current speed.
‘Trains travelling at speed take a long time to stop and anyone struck by one is likely to be killed or very badly injured.”
The Glenfinnan viaduct has been a local landmark for more than a century, but its fame skyrocketed after it was featured in the Harry Potter films. A train leaving from Kings Cross station in London takes students to the famous Hogwarts Academy, passing over the pleasing Victorian arches of the viaduct on its way. The station and Glenfinnan viaduct are two of the few immediately recognizable points in the journey, and Harry Potter fans flock to both sites in a near constant stream. It was even found necessary, at one point, to place security guards at the Kings Cross platform in order to prevent children from charging at the solid brick pylon that Harry and his friends rush through to get to the non-existent Hogwarts platform.
Mr Duncan and others were at pains to point out that they welcomed the influx of visitors with open arms. He said that it was “great” that interest in the films was bringing all these thousands of visitors to the area, but he felt that Lochaber’s infrastructure and its position straddling the A830 was of real concern when considering the safety of Harry Potter fans and their children.
Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not, it is very important that everyone keeps clear of railway tracks. Operational railways like the one running through the Glenfinnan hills are dangerous, and hundreds of people die in railway accidents in the U.K. every year.