The Leaning Tower of Glenfinnan – Glenfinnan, Scotland - Atlas Obscura
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Glenfinnan, Scotland

The Leaning Tower of Glenfinnan

A close look reveals that the Scottish monument is just slightly off-kilter. 

The Glenfinnan Monument, now over 200 years old, honors the Scottish soldiers who fought and died in the Jacobite Rebellion of the 18th century. It represents the Raising of the Standard (flag) on August 19, 1745, when Bonnie Prince Charlie brought the clans together at Glenfinnan to fight the English for his right to the crown.

The 60-foot (18-meter) monument stands in the shadow of the mountains that surround the village. A lone kilted soldier rests atop the tower. However, despite the monument’s noble stature, it doesn’t quite sit right. Though recently restored, it’s slightly off-center by about an inch. Because of this, village residents have fondly dubbed it The Leaning Tower of Glenfinnan.

The monument is located within the village of Glenfinnan, which has a population of just over 120 residents, but has made several appearances on the big screen thanks to its stunning scenery. It’s been used as a filming location for Charlotte Gray, Highlander, The Railway ManMade of Honor, and Harry Potter. The Leaning Tower is backdropped by Loch Shiel, which was used as Harry Potter’s Black Lake, and the Glenfinnan Viaduct is also known as the Harry Potter Bridge.

The village is also home to two historic hotels with pubs, a post office (a shed painted red), a microbrewery, and a recording studio—yet the nearest pint of milk to be bought is 12 miles away.

Know Before You Go

Visitors can climb the monument between April and October after purchasing a ticket from the National Trust, which also maintains an exhibit about the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

To get here: By car, it is 17 miles west of Fort William along the A830. By bus or train, (Monday–Saturday) use Shiel Buses or Scotrail from Fort William. Both options take 25–35 minutes.

The walk to the viaduct is on a private road, so you can only park in the parking lot. Please do not park on the single track road into the village (opposite the viaduct car park), as this is the only way in/out for residents and blocking the path is not a good idea. The walk from the train station to the viaduct (or vice versa) is definitely worth the views!