Harry Potter Film Locations: Back To Hogwarts Day!

HARRY POTTER SPOILER ALERT (but if you don’t know what happens by now, are you likely to care)!!
While I was away in Scotland a week and a half ago, I came across a few sights that seemed a bit familiar (joke – we went out intentionally to find these places).  Since today is September 1st, when the train left at 9:00am for another school year at Hogwarts, I thought I would share these with you all:

First we drove past Loch Eilt, which is the lake seen in a few of the Harry Potter films, and, of course, the final resting place of Albus Dumbledore:

Loch Eilt, resting place of Dumbledore
Loch Eilt, resting place of Dumbledore
Another view across Loch Eilt
Another view across Loch Eilt

It was raining verily, and I was recovering from a BARE migraine, so we didn’t get a chance to go out in the kayak and look around the islands and explore them (which I had hoped).  We went back to Glenfinnan.  I’d expected the viaduct to just be visible from a lay-by or something, but apparently not.  We parked at Glenfinnan train station and found out there was a walk to get to the viaduct.  Fans of the Harry Potter films will remember that the Glenfinnan Viaduct is where the Hogwarts Express can be seen iconically making its way to the school every September 1st (somewhere around 20-40 minutes into most of the films).

The walk to the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
The walk to the Glenfinnan Viaduct.  It looks like it belongs in Harry Potter before you even go anywhere!

The sign at the start said 1-2 hours walk, but we found the walk to be much quicker, and you get your first glimpse of the Glenfinnan Viaduct after just 10-15 minutes of walking (uphill):

The first glimpse of the viaduct
The first glimpse of the viaduct, with a standard British train on it (no, trainspotters, don’t ask me to define a “standard” British train).

We got closer and the views were absolutely stunning:

Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Glenfinnan Viaduct.

I took a panorama shot as well – click to enlarge:

A panoramic shot of the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
A panoramic shot of the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

I was very taken with it, and even though it was pouring with rain (hence the mistyness to all these pictures) I stayed for a good few minutes.  When it was time to go back, we were at the “first glimpse” viewing point when we heard a STEAM TRAIN!!!  I was so excited, I RAN back to the first glimpse point, and waited patiently to snap some pictures.

Sadly, as you will see from my photos, the misty drizzle has wrecked the background (this was my second camera, because it has the best zoom and it was raining so I didn’t want to wreck my new-second-hand Canon EOS).


I resorted to my second ever use of photo editing software to try and get the above image to come out better, and I don’t really know what I’m doing, so it came out like this:

The steam train on the Glenfinnan Viaduct, “fixed” with pixl editor.

If anyone has any suggestions for how to fix the first picture, I still have the original.

We did look for Steall Falls as well when we were around Ben Nevis, but we walked down by the river for about a mile and we never found it so we gave up and came back.

On the way home, we also passed by

Alnwick Castle:

Alnwick Castle, best viewed from the side of the road.  There are NO VIEWS FROM THEIR EXPENSIVE CAR PARK.
Alnwick Castle, best viewed from the side of the road just off the A1. There are NO VIEWS FROM THEIR EXPENSIVE CAR PARK.

We were going to go in but tickets are priced at DAMN EXPENSIVE and the whole place was teeming with kids and I had a head injury and they’d purposely only got one ticket booth open with another member of staff to one side selling a more expensive ticket, presumably this was orchestrated to try and increase sales of the more expensive ticket that meant you didn’t have to wait at the ticket booth.  Additionally, you have to pay for parking on entry (instead of pay and display or pay on exit), and you don’t find out ticket prices until after you’ve done this, unless you’ve looked online.  All in all, I thought the management of the castle was exploitative of guests, so even though we’d been fleeced for £3 of car parking money already, we decided to cut our losses and carry on home.  Shame, I would have liked to have seen it, it’s been on my “want to see” list for a while (being in Robin of Sherwood the 80s TV show, and a bunch of other stuff as well) but the confusing and over complicated ticketing prices combined with the tacky attempts to get us to spend more on an expensive ticket and swarms of badly behaved children everywhere all just put me right off.

I hope these pictures brightened up your Back to Hogwarts day, let me know if you need any information for planning a trip to see any of these sights, e.g. locations (that’s the Harry Potter Guide where I found some of the locations, and it’s fabulous. There were a couple of locations we didn’t find, which was a shame, but Scotland’s a huge great wilderness of things!

Author: Torie Adams

I am a thirtysomething travel writer, lifestyle blogger, photographer, and USA Today bestselling author in Ireland, aka Mama Adventure. As a writer, I have written articles that are published in Offbeat Bride and on Buzzfeed, and as a photographer, I have taken photographs that are published in local and national news outlets in the UK. I have a blog at www.mamaadventure.com Twitter: @mamaadventurez

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