First published on 30 Oct 2012. Updated on 31 Oct 2012.
Given that Hogwarts is set in a distant, mountainous outpost, it’s no surprise that Glen Coe features in all the Harry Potter films. Visitors head for Torren Lochan and the Signal Rock forest, and to Clachaig, where Hagrid’s Hut was situated. The beautiful landscape makes it a relaxing spot to be inspired by nature… with no real-life monsters to chase you.
The spectacular flying car scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was filmed at Glenfinnan Viaduct – an incredible bridge that takes the Fort William to Mallaig railway line across the Glenfinnan valley. In summer you can cross the viaduct on the elegant Jacobite steam train, the engine and carriages of which were used to make the Hogwarts Express. Around here you can also enjoy the local scenery by boat or bike. There are cruises on Loch Shiel, a station museum and a visitor centre (open April to October, 01397 722 250).
The imposing view of 11th-century Alnwick Castle in Northumberland was used for the exterior shots of Hogwarts, and Harry’s daring efforts at flying hockey, or Quidditch, were set within its rugged ramparts. The castle’s art collection and artefacts provide a fascinating glimpse into the past, and there are regular family events where children can have a go at dressing up for the Knight’s Quest or hop on the back of a broomstick to emulate Harry’s Quidditch skills.
Of course, a lot of the Harry Potter action was filmed in a vast studio – there’s a limit to how much you can do in a real castle without causing serious damage. At Leavesden Studios near Watford, just north of London, Warner Bros built massive sets as key locations like Diagon Alley, Dumbledore’s office and the Great Hall. Earlier this year, the studio launched the exhibition The Making of Harry Potter.
Fans can walk around the sets and discover behind-the-scenes secrets of how each film reached the screen. No self-respecting Potterphile could resist a visit to King’s Cross station, either. The fictitious Platform 9 3⁄4 was actually filmed on Platform 4 of this main line rail station, and there is a spot where a baggage trolley disappears into a brick wall under a ‘Platform 93⁄4’ sign, perfect for photo opportunities. While you’re here, you can visit the British Library, just five minutes’ walk away and home to special exhibitions and centuries of great literature beyond JK Rowling’s recent achievements. You’re also close to ZSL London Zoo, where, in the reptile house, Harry discovered his ability to communicate with snakes…
Find the best locations
British Film Locations is a free app for iPhone and iPad that guides you to many incredible film locations. Mapping out where to go, the app also offers the history behind each location and its role in famous films, from lowbudget indie movies to Hollywood blockbusters. Discover where Batman’s Wayne Manor was, see where Bridget Jones wrote her diary, and capture yourself on film in the locations you fell in love with when you saw them on the big screen. Search for it at the App Store.
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