From Page to Screen to View; Visiting Harry Potter Landscapes
By Jessica MacDonald
For all those Harry Potter fans thinking about studying abroad, this post is for you.
I myself am a huge Harry Potter fan. When I was a little girl and the first book had come over to North America, it was my mom who saw it on the news. She was intrigued by the story and decided to buy a copy to read to me; it was how she taught me to read novels. We would read the first book together every night before bed, from there I started to read them on my own and once I was finished reading the latest instalment, she would be the next one to read it. Every year we looked forward to a new Harry Potter movie or book coming out. She was with me for every midnight premiere and book debut. It was always a special bond that my mom and I had.
I think me, like most Harry Potter fans, grew up with the books. As Harry, Ron and Hermione went through their years at Hogwarts so did we. They became characters we could relate to. Hogwarts was a place where we could imagine, creatures and spells were all new knowledge in which we wanted to know more about. The Wizarding World was new and exciting to all its readers.
Fast forward to me coming out here to Scotland, I knew that it was an important place for Harry Potter and all the fans. A lot of Potter fans know that J.K Rowling was residing in Edinburgh while she was writing Harry Potter and some of the movie sets and scenery are taken from places in Scotland. If you are a Harry Potter Fan at all, then Scotland is a place you need to visit. Take it from a huge fan, it is like being at Hogwarts. Of course, I brought my original Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with me to every place I visited. So if you hold Harry Potter as near and dear to your heart as I do, here are some of the places in Scotland you need to visit.
Let’s start with the first well know place to Harry Potter fans, Edinburgh. Now before I go any further I do need to recommend a tour which is called the Potter Tour. It is free (yay for students!) and it takes you to all of the places which inspired J.K Rowling’s world and characters. First thing was the graveyard, Tom Riddles grave lies in Greyfriars Kirkyard. It is at the back of the graveyard and down a hill. Greyfriars Kirkyard is also said to be the place which inspired a scene from the Goblet of Fire in which Harry is brought to the graveyard and Voldemort comes back to life.
Right by the tombstone is the school which inspired Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. George Harriot’s School can be seen through the gates of the graveyard and once you see it, you can see how it inspired the magical school we know to be Hogwarts. They even have four houses in which the students are divided into. Sound familiar? This location can also be seen from the next spot, which most Potter fans know as there is always a line out the door.
The Elephant House Café; this is one of the many café’s where J.K Rowling wrote the early chapters of Harry Potter. This is a fan favourite and I would recommend it for sure! The coolest thing about this café is the fan graffiti left in the bathrooms. Fans of the series have written on the bathroom wall from all over the world. It is crazy to think that a series has touched the lives of so many people. Another café is called Spoon café. It was changed from Nicholson’s café which was owned by J.K Rowling’s brother-in-law.
The last place in Edinburgh is the street which inspired Diagon Alley; Victoria Street and Candlemaker Row. There is even a Harry Potter store now opened on this street. If you can I recommend going in; they have some great collector’s items for any Potter fan, including a ‘Scots’ edition of the books. I did purchase one as a collector’s item.
For the next couple of spots, a trip to the Highlands of Scotland is a must! The Highlands are beautiful and filled with lots of picture-perfect sceneries. Much of the backdrops for the Harry Potter films were taken from the Highlands of Scotland. Hagrid’s hut scenes, as well as many of the wide shot scenes of Hogwarts, were taken from Glencoe up in the Highlands. Another location in which many Harry Potter fans must see is the famous bridge in which Harry and Ron are trying to catch up with the Hogwarts Express by taking the famous flying car in the Chamber of Secrets. The Glenfinnan Viaduct is amazing to see not only do you get the scenery of the famous bridge, but from the viewpoint, you can also see the Black Lake particularly when Harry is flying over on Buckbeak in the Prisoner of Azkaban film.
The final one on this list is not in Scotland; however, it is only a two-hour train ride away and is worth the day trip. Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England has been featured in many films over the years including Transformers: The Last Knight, Downton Abbey, Elizabeth, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves to name a few. To Harry Potter fans, it was some of the Hogwarts grounds for the first and second films in the franchise. They even have a ‘broom flying’ lesson for people to take part in. So of course, my friend and I decided to borrow one for a couple of photos. When you watch the film, you can see exactly what scenes were filmed at this castle.
As you can see, there are many places to see in Scotland that have to do with Harry Potter. Seeing all of these sights through the eyes of a Potter fan was incredible; from reading the books to watching the movies growing up to seeing what inspired this incredible world, as well as locations used to transform the series to the big screen. These are all locations that I recommend for all you Potter fans to see.