Ride the Hogwarts Castle train on Scotland boating holidays

Thursday, 22 September 2011 2:23 PM

If you or your children are fans of young wizard Harry Potter and you'd like to work this into your next short trip away, consider booking Scotland boating holidays to visit the line along which the Hogwarts Express travels in the series of films.

Scotland is an ideal place for a boating journey, as you'll get to take in the stunning natural landscapes as you make your way along the waterways here. If you're an active family, there are plenty of opportunities to disembark and go for long walks through the scenery or enjoy an exhilarating ride along championship mountain biking tracks.

The nation is also home to the world-famous West Highland Railway Line, which is known as one of the world's most picturesque routes to travel along by rail. The part of the track between Fort William and Mallaig featured in the Harry Potter films and if you're planning a getaway here a journey onboard a train to see this site is a must.

Boat breaks can make for exciting and memorable holidays for kids, who are sure to enjoy the novelty of a few days onboard. You might let them have a go at steering the vessel or helping you moor up - provided they wear their lifejackets of course!

Begin your Scottish cruise at the lush green location of Laggan, where you can start your break with a bang at the mountain biking Wolftrax trails. Whether you're a beginner or more advanced, you'll find tracks to suit your ability here in Strathmashie Forest.

After you've worn the little ones out with all that action on two wheels, you can journey on to Banavie, home to the UK's highest mountain - Ben Nevis. This is bound to be something you'd like to see up close, so climb aboard a mountain gondola and make your way 2,150 ft up the adjacent peak Aonach Mor for a stunning view.

Of course, if you're a family of keen climbers, you might like to have a go at scaling some of the summits here before making your way to another Scottish gem - the Ben Nevis Distillery.

Here you can take a tour of the facility and perhaps sample some of the award-winning whiskies, or pick up a bottle as a souvenir for loved ones back home.

In the vicinity you'll also discover what could be the highlight of your trip - at least where your youngsters are concerned - the West Highland Railway Line in Fort William. Pay a visit and you'll be able to view the Hogwarts Castle Jacobite steam train, painted in Hogwarts Railway's bright red livery. Just 16 miles west of Fort William is Glenfinnan Viaduct, where the train was filmed for the Harry Potter movies.

Young fans are sure to want to take a ride along the famous track to relive the magical moment from the movies, while grownups can admire the stunning scenery that has made the route known worldwide as one of the globe's greatest railway journeys.

There are numerous other attractions to enjoy on UK family holidays in the Highlands, one of which is a visit to the Treasures of the Earth exhibition at Corpach, where you can view crystals and gems housed in atmospheric caves and caverns.

Children will be wowed by crystals over a metre tall and fossils of ancient creatures and petrified wood, while adults might enjoy the impressive array of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and other valuable gems on display.

And another spot you won't want to miss a trip to is the well-known lake of Loch Ness. Make your way to Fort Augustus, situated on the shores of the lake in the beautiful surroundings of the Great Glen, and moor up for some sightseeing.

You might want to take your binoculars so you can have a go at spotting the legendary sea creature Nessie, although there is a sculpture of the beast next to the locks on the Caledonian Canal if you're disappointed at the loch.

Nearby is the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre housed in a converted lock-keeper's cottage, which you might like to visit to learn more about this important waterway, while if you head on to the Clansman Centre in the village you can have your photograph taken in period costume, providing you with a keepsake of your UK boating adventure in Scotland.

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