Let’s take you on a beautiful, magical journey on the Pottertrail

Of course, the books are better. The Potter movies do no justice to the moving narrative of JKR’s words. But, some of them were beautifully shot, in locations that would forever infuse us with Potter nostalgia. What if you could go on a magical journey on the Pottertrail, reliving your favorite Harry Potter moments? Here is what your itinerary must look like, if you wanted to plan that fantasy tour:

Platform 9 and 3/4

Platform 9 and three quarters
Pic courtesy: Sam Howzit (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

All Harry Potter journeys must start at Platform 9 and 3/4, right! The magical platform that appears only for the Hogwarts deserving, between platforms 9 and 10. In reality, platforms 4 and 5 in London’s legendary King’s Cross Station were labeled 9 and 10. Potter fans have now commemorated the spot with a trolley, disappearing into the wall. You can get your Potter moment sealed in a photo, scarf and all, at the spot.

Diagon Alley and Leaky Cauldron

Diagon Alley
Pic courtesy: Aurelien Guichard via Flickr (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Remember the time Harry’s half-giant, tender-hearted BFF, Hagrid, takes him on his first magical shopping trip to Diagon Alley. The hidden street, exotic, yet friendly, where Harry found his friends, and discovered his celebrity status, remains a Potterhead pilgrimage till date. The scenes were shot in London’s Leadenhall Market, a vintage marketplace existing since the 14th Century. The place is adorned with a breathtaking, ornate roof structure, and endearing cobbled streets. The market, only a 3 min walk from the Monument tube station, is a tourist attraction of London.

Hogwarts Express

Glenfinnan viaduct
Pic courtesy: 96Tommy via Flickr (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Potterhearts will forever leap with joy at the warm memory of the Hogwarts Express, weaving its way through a lush landscape, inching towards the only place Harry ever felt ‘at home’. What would I not give to be on a train that transports me to that world. Well, you might get the same feeling if you take a train from Fort William to Glenfinnan. The journey will take you over the picturesque Glenfinnan Viaduct, represented as the Hogwarts bridge in the Potter movies. The bridge has been featured in many a films, not just the Potter series.

 The viaduct lies on the Western Highland line in Inverness-shire, Scotland. The line is used by passenger trains operated by ScotRail, between Glasgow Queen Street and Mallaig. Additionally, in the summer, the heritage Jacobite steam train operates along the line. It is a popular tourist event in the area, and the viaduct is one of the major attractions of the line.  It is such a tourist draw that British Railway Police have had to issue warnings not to walk on the viaduct, due to several near misses with trains.

Hogwarts Castle

Unfortunately, there is no ‘one’ Hogwarts Castle. The film series has used several landmarks to shoot different ‘wings’ of the legendary school of Magic. 

The Durham Cathedral, a World Heritage site in Northern England, has been used for many external shots of the castle. Other buildings that have been used for external and internal castle shots are:

  • Alnwick Castle, home to Dukes of Northumberland, 
  • New College, Oxford
  • Lacock Abbey, near Melksham train station (setting for Snape’s potion class)
  • Gloucester Castle, an hour from Birmingham, has been used for multiple shots of Hogwarts corridors

Forbidden Forest

Pic courtesy: Timo Newton Syms via Flickr (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

How many desolate afternoons have I spent hoping to take a walk in the fringes of the Forbidden Forest. Well, one can, at the Swinley Forest in Bracknell. The forest is a large expanse of Crown Estate woodland, across Surrey and Berkshire. It is mostly a plantation of Scots Pines. Unfortunately, for the shooting, they had to cut down 160 trees, permission for which was granted by the Queen herself.

Pic courtesy: Gautier Poupeau via Flickr (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

On a side note, 12, Picket Post in Bracknell also served as 4, Privet Drive in the first movie. For later movies, they created a set very similar to the street in question.

Hogwarts Library

Admit it, the Bibliophile in you has always wanted to break in to the Forbidden section in the Hogwarts Library. While I cannot give you a secret pathway to reach the darkest books in magic, I can tell you which Library was used to represent the fictional one we love. 

Duke Humfrey’s Library is the oldest reading room in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. Duke Humfrey was a great connoisseur of art and literature, and donated his precious collection of 281 manuscripts to the library in 1447. Thus his name on the board. Today, it is primarily a reading room for Maps, Music, and pre-1640s rare books. 

The Great Lake

Pic courtesy: Gil Cavalcanti (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Also known as the Black Lake, it has forever intrigued us with the pitless mysteries is holds for the Hogwarts students. The lake became a primary plot tool in the Triwizard Championship. 

Loch Shiel, a 28km long, 400ft deep freshwater loch, in Fort William, Scotland, represents the lake in the movies. The lake is a breathtaking visual, surrounded by picturesque mountains on all sides. Recently, local tourism has started boat trips for tourists, on the loch. One of the best views of the loch can be seen from the top of the Glenfinnan monument

Thank you for traveling with us on our fantastic journey of Pottermania. All of this is on my bucket list. What did I miss? What would you add to your Potter pilgimage?

 

 

About Anumita Ghosh

Anumita believes her calling has to do with the written words. She loves to write and read, and has recently given up a(n) (almost) rocking career in the Corporate to pursue her passion. Yes, she is slightly off her rocker, but then the society has been largely accepting of her madness. She is the co-founder of Blank Slate Chronicles and a struggling domestic apprentice, not to mention a loving (yet inadequately skilled) mother to a toddler.

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Anumita Ghosh

Anumita believes her calling has to do with the written words. She loves to write and read, and has recently given up a(n) (almost) rocking career in the Corporate to pursue her passion. Yes, she is slightly off her rocker, but then the society has been largely accepting of her madness. She is the co-founder of Blank Slate Chronicles and a struggling domestic apprentice, not to mention a loving (yet inadequately skilled) mother to a toddler.

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