A family vacation seemed to be ending in disaster—but then things took a magical turn.
The Cluett family was enjoying their getaway. They were camping in the Essan bothy—one of the free-of-charge, unfurnished cottages found on the Scottish highlands. It was a very remote destination, but the Cluetts knew an adventurous shortcut.
“You can get to it by quite an arduous walk in—or you can paddle for 10 minutes in a canoe across the loch from the road,” the family’s father, Jon Cluett, explained to the BBC.
“We had a canoe so we paddled across the loch to the bothy.”
The Cluetts and their four children—aged 6, 8, 10, and 12—all canoed to the bothy no problem. Jon tied the canoe to some rocks, and the family spent the night in the shelter safe and sound.
But getting home wouldn’t be so easy.
Jon received a troubling wake-up call: his young daughter informed him that the stream had risen massively, and the land was flooding.
“The burn was overflowing,” he told the BBC. “The entire area was underwater.”
And even worse: the family was now stranded.
“The rocks I’d tied the boat to were pulled apart and the boat was gone.”
Without their canoe, the family needed to find a way to get back to their car—but it was three miles away, and a walk through the marshy lands with young kids seemed dangerous.
Desperate, Jon decided to call the local police and mountain rescue to see if they had any other way to get them out. And amazingly, they did: there was a train line that went by the area, and it would give them a lift.
“The policeman said, ‘We’ve arranged for the next train passing to stop for you,'” Jon recalled to AP.
Jon was relieved—but it’s what he added next that really turned their vacation around.
“You’re not going to believe this but it’s the Hogwarts Express steam train.”
For all the Muggles who didn’t grow up with the Harry Potter series, the Hogwarts Express is the magical train that ushers Harry and his peers to and from the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.
No, the train sent to save the Cluetts didn’t come from Platform 9 ¾. But it was the Jacobite—a famous steam engine that was used as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter film series.
And luckily, the four Cluett children were all big fans of Harry Potter.
“They know the Harry Potter films and they know that are filmed in the Highlands,” Jon told AP. “But they hadn’t put all of that together in their heads until they saw the train.”
“The train is getting closer, we’re running down, stuff bouncing everywhere, big smiles on the kids faces,” he told BBC.
“It all started to be fun at that point.”
Hogwarts Express rescues family stranded in Highlands https://t.co/Ga6mmNnbTx
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) October 14, 2017
The unexpected surprise of getting a ride from the magical locomotive went a long way in lifting the family’s spirits—and making them forget about the unfortunate turn their trip had taken.
“All sadness left their little faces and was replaced by excitement and fun—just the real joy of having an adventure and having the train stop right next to them,” Jon told the BBC.
“The kids have certainly had an adventure. We’ve all had an adventure.”
It was a storybook ending—but for dad, the only thing that would make it better is finding that canoe. He still has hope that someone will find it and make this a really perfect ending.
“It’s got to turn up at some point,” he told AP. “The thing is 16-foot-long, red, and floats.”