Tourists cause traffic chaos at Scotland’s ‘Harry Potter Bridge’

Residents who live near Glenfinnan viaduct say there's not enough car parking to cope with the numbers of tourists descending on the area. Picture: Wikicommons
Residents who live near Glenfinnan viaduct say there's not enough car parking to cope with the numbers of tourists descending on the area. Picture: Wikicommons
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The stunning Glenfinnan Viaduct - known to millions as “the Harry Potter Bridge”- is causing parking chaos.

Around 330,000 visitors come to marvel at the 21-arch structure, the top of Loch Shiel, Inverness-shire.

But locals say there’s a desperate shortage of car parking to cope with the influx and have launched a community campaign to tackle the problem.

Tourists from all over the world visit the picturesque site which was made famous as part of the route taken by the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films and which features on some Scottish tenners.

But cars are being left by families along single-track roads - as well on the verge of the A830 trunk road which has a 60mph limit - as they flock to see the attraction.

Glenfinnan Community Council chairman Duncan Gibson, who has run the Glenfinnan House Hotel for 16 years, says May was the busiest month he can remember in the village.

He said that up to 2,000 visitors a day come to see the viaduct, while tourists also visit the Glenfinnan Monument which honours fallen Jacobite clansmen and is in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.

Mr Gibson said annual visitor numbers had risen from about 250,000 just a few years ago to more than 330,000 last year, stressing that parking facilities were “desperately needed.”

He added: “The whole world is descending on our village to see the bridge. It’s a fantastic thing for tourism in Scotland but we need to make the experience more relaxed for visitors coming to Glenfinnan.

“It’s getting to the point that it’s getting dangerous, and emergency vehicles can not get up the road.”

Mr Gibson said parking along single track roads was creating problems for vehicles trying to get past each other, and was “putting local children in danger” as they walk to and from the school bus.

He says the community is now seeking volunteers to help collate evidence of the problems at Glenfinnan in order to secure funding for a new tourist car park, potentially for 130 parking spaces, as well as spaces for up to 20 campervans.

Glenfinnan Estate purchased the land between the National Trust and River Finnan and an area would be made available for new parking opposite the games field.

But to make this happen the community needs to gather evidence in support of an application to the Scottish Government’s Rural Infrastructure Fund.

They are proposing to take a “snapshot” of what is happening on July 10 with people placed at key sites counting cars and chatting to visitors.

A survey has also been launched to gather views on the scale of the parking problems.

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP, Kate Forbes, said: “I’ve met with Glenfinnan community representatives several times and I am positive that we can put together a good plan which will create additional parking as well as improve the visitor experience.

“We want people to come, visit and see the all the iconic sites like the viaduct and the monument but they’ve got to have somewhere to park.

“I want to see local communities getting the benefits of tourism so that we can continue to welcome guests and bring jobs into the area.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the rural tourism infrastructure fund had been established to deal with the effects of the nation’s tourist boom on transport, services and facilities – especially in rural areas.

She added: “We will consider every application on its own merit as part of our commitment to helping rural communities and ensuring Scotland continues to be a world leading tourist destination.”