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Approaching Mallaig harbour by ferry.jpg
Approaching Mallaig harbour on the ferry from the Isle of Skye.
Mallaig is located in Lochaber
Population 660 (2020)
OS grid reference NM 67693 96810
• Edinburgh 124 mi (200 km)
• London 444 mi (715 km)
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town MALLAIG
Postcode district PH41
Dialling code 01687
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament
  • Ross, Skye and Lochaber
Scottish Parliament
List of places
57°00′14″N 5°49′38″W / 57.003813°N 5.8271730°W / 57.003813; -5.8271730

Mallaig ( Scottish Gaelic: Malaig derived from Old Norse Mel Vik, meaning sand dune bay) is a port in Lochaber, on the west coast of the Highlands of Scotland. The local railway station, Mallaig, is the terminus of the West Highland railway line (Fort William and Mallaig branch) and the town is linked to Fort William by the A830 road – the "Road to the Isles".


Fisherman and child, Mallaig
The Fisherman and Child sculpture by Mark Rogers at the entrance to Mallaig harbour

Completed in 1901, the West Highland Line links Mallaig railway station to Fort William, Oban and Glasgow. The line was voted the top rail journey in the world by readers of the independent travel magazine Wanderlust in 2009, ahead of the iconic Trans-Siberian and the Cuzco to Machu Picchu line in Peru. The five-hour trip to Glasgow Queen Street railway station passes through spectacular scenery, including seascapes, loch sides, mountain and moorland terrain. It offers views of Loch Lomond, the Gare Loch, Rannoch Moor, Ben Nevis, Glenfinnan, Glen Shiel and Loch Eil. The line also runs along the Clyde between Helensburgh and Glasgow and offers views across the estuary. In the years before the First World War, after the opening of the line in 1901, there was a fairly steady increase in the value of fish sold, exceeding £60,000 in 1914.

Mallaig Fish Landed 1901-1914
Value of Fish Landed in Mallaig 1901–1914

In the summer the Jacobite steam train service from Fort William visits Mallaig.

Shiel Buses operates a service from Mallaig to Fort William. Buses also run south along the A861 to the villages of Acharacle and Strontian.

Mallaig is an important ferry port, with regular Caledonian MacBrayne services to Armadale on the Isle of Skye, a 30-minute sailing operated by MV Loch Fyne and MV Lord of the Isles, the latter operating the morning service from Lochmaddy on South Uist to Mallaig, before shuttling between Mallaig and Armadale, then working the evening service back to Lochmaddy. It also runs a daily service operated by the MV Lochnevis, purpose-built for the route to the Small Isles of Canna, Rùm, Eigg and Muck, although the timetable and itinerary differ from day to day.

In addition, a local ferry service owned by a former lifeboatman, Bruce Watt, sails daily to Inverie in Knoydart, a remote village, and also calls by prior arrangement at Tarbet in Morar, a location only accessible by sea. This service also offers a non-landing cruise through scenic Loch Nevis.

Sunset Cuilin from Sleat
Sunset over the Sound of Sleat

Mallaig as a filming location

The Mallaig railway was used during the filming of the Harry Potter series of films, and the Hogwarts Express could often be seen in the summer during periods of filming. Many other local areas were used for location filming.

The 1996 film Breaking the Waves was largely filmed in Mallaig and the surrounding area, and the beach scenes of Local Hero were filmed at Morar and Arisaig, a few miles to the south.


  • Map sources for Mallaig


Mallaig has extensive distance-learning facilities, allowing the local population access to all forms of education from leisure classes to university degrees through Lochaber College and the UHI Millennium Institute. The college is one of the most successful of its kind in Britain, with over 8 per cent of the local population accessing its facilities. The college has published a PDF version of the 19th century Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands report. Recently the Learning Centre has opened a marine-specific vocational centre and is at the forefront of developing Marine Certification courses for fishermen, as well as being a RYA certified centre.

Mallaig has its own primary school, which recently accepted the Gaelic-medium pupils from Lady Lovat Primary School in the nearby village of Morar. This allows Lady Lovat to focus more on its English-medium students.

Mallaig has a high school called Mallaig High School, which opened in 1989, although a secondary school had existed in a slightly different location. This caters for Mallaig, the villages of Morar and Arisaig, the nearby Small Isles of Eigg, Rùm, Muck and Canna, and the nearby Knoydart peninsula. The school has growing numbers of pupils from the Small Isles, unable to travel daily from home. These pupils are boarded in the school's hostel.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Mallaig para niños

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