VISITORS to the Glenfinnan Viaduct are being asked to help shape the future of the site following its busiest year so far on record.

The village has become a major tourist destination as a result of the viaduct featuring in several of the Harry Potter films.

But residents have previously told The National how the beauty spot – which has a population of around 150 people - is cracking under the pressure of growing footfall.

Members of the community have told of how drivers are turning verges into mudbaths, manoeuvring dangerously on the A830 and defecating “everywhere and anywhere they can”.

The National Trust for Scotland – which runs the Glenfinnan Monument Visitor Centre – said almost half a million people have visited since January, with numbers up a whopping 46% on last year and 9% on the previous busiest year of 2019.

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One of the major issues that has been raised is that no one organisation is taking ownership of the global tourist attraction the viaduct has become, with the tiny community left to try and manage the hoards of Potter fans taking over the Lochaber hamlet.

The National Trust is now looking for views on people’s experiences in Glenfinnan as it looks to work with the community and other partners to improve them while taking care of the natural beauty of the village’s natural beauty.

Emily Bryce, the National Trust for Scotland’s operations manager for Glenfinnan, said: “2023 has been Glenfinnan’s busiest ever year for visitors.

The National:

“This volume of visitors places pressure upon our small rural community, as well as our facilities and parking infrastructure, none of which were designed to accommodate such great demand.

“Our charity is working closely with our neighbours and local partners to ensure Glenfinnan is an enjoyable and sustainable place to both visit and live in. We are here to protect, care for and share what makes this area special and, as part of this, we are embarking on a project to invest in our facilities here.

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“Understanding more about why people visit, how they travelled here, the experience they had and how we could improve it, is an essential step towards planning for the future.

“This is a brilliant opportunity for anyone who knows and loves Glenfinnan to have their say.”

Glenfinnan is often considered the starting point for the 1745 Jacobite Rising, where Charles Edward Stuart gathered his supporters at the head of Loch Shiel before embarking on a fateful campaign to regain the throne for the Stuarts, which ended in defeat at the Battle of Culloden.

Since the 1930s, the National Trust for Scotland has cared for the iconic Glenfinnan Monument, built in 1815 to commemorate the Jacobite cause. It also runs a visitor centre, but this was only designed to accommodate up to 100,000 visitors a year – not five times that amount.

Even when The Jacobite train was suspended a few months ago, this apparently had little effect on the overall numbers of people visiting the spot which has become a top 10 place to go in Scotland.

The National Trust has said it is working closely with the community to address traffic congestion and parking capacity challenges, including encouraging people to leave their car at home when visiting and travel on the train.

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