Do you love the Harry Potter books and movies? If you want more Harry Potter in your life, consider traveling to the locations where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. The movies were shot in the UK – in Britain and Scotland. There are tours where you can travel to the places, but remember that many of the scenes were shot in a studio, or are composites of several locations.
When we were in Scotland, we visited all three of the Scottish locations of the Harry Potter movies. I can see why they chose these areas – they are magical, full of natural charisma and beauty. Want to see for yourself? Much of the scenes of the grounds of Hogwarts school was filmed in the Scottish Highlands.
Put your traveling shoes on – here are three specific areas in Scotland you can visit to get more of your Harry Potter fix:
You can see the railway line that was used for the train journey to Hogwarts. It runs about 42 miles, from Fort William to Mallaig, and crosses the Glenfinnan Valley on the Glenfinnan Viaduct. In the movies, you’ll also see Ben Nevis and the spectacular countryside around Glen Nevis.Glenfinnan Viaduct – this beautiful railroad track can be seen in the flying car scenes in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s located at Lochaber, in the highlands of Scotland. The railway is incredible – an enormous, arching bridge, 100 feet above the ground. There are 21 large arch supports holding the bridge up, over the 1,000 feet it crosses in the valley. It was built between 1897 and 1901. You can take a Harry Potter train (the Jacobite Steam Train) on this route – learn more here: westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/Jacobite_Details.html
You can view the viaduct from the parking lot of the Glenfinnan Monument. This was erected in 1815 to commemorate the place where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard, starting the 1745 Jacobite Rising. There’s a gift shop there, a restroom, and free parking.
Glen Nevis, Fort William
Used as the background scenes for the Quidditch games, this area is quite extraordinarily beautiful. The waterfall at Ben Nevis, Steal Falls, is the scene of Harry’s battle with a dragon in the Triwizard Tournament (film 4). Fort William is a lovely port town, with a fantastic pedestrian walking downtown. There are fun restaurants, shops, and a memorial statue of Donald Cameron, Chief of Clan Cameron. Fort William is also part of the Calendonian Canal (from Fort William to Loch Ness at Fort Augustus). Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK, and is the end of the Grampian Mountains. Remember when Hagrid was skipping stones? That was filmed at Loch Eilt, near Fort William.
Glencoe (a spectacularly beautiful location in the western Highlands) is the location of Hagrid’s hut, on the slopes of Ben Nevis. It was also the primary location for the outdoor shots in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
You can actually stay near Loch Torren (as we did), and walk to see across the lake where it was filmed. Note – all sets are now down and the area is natural again. We highly recommend staying at the Glencoe Cottages – owner Victoria Sutherland is extremely friendly and knowledgeable, and the Cottages have won green awards in Scotland. You’ll be right next to the River Tay, and enjoy natural beauty unsurpassed. And, you can walk each morning to view the location of Hagrid’s Hut – it’s only a few hundreds yards from the cottages! Your kids will thank you (ours does). We loved staying at Glencoe Cottages!
Scotland is full of beauty and good food and friendly people. Add to it seeing the places from Harry Potter, and you’re in a traveler’s/book lover’s delight. What are you waiting for??
All photos copyright Jessie Voigts, except where noted.
Article originally published on Wandering Educators.