Is there anyone left who has not heard the story of JK Rowling sitting at a table in a café in Edinburgh, writing her story of the boy wizard Harry Potter? While the Harry Potter series of books were set, and for the most part filmed in England, there are a number of beautiful shooting sites located in Scotland as well. If you want to take a Scotland vacation that includes all the locations where Harry Potter Was Filmed in Scotland, then Authentic Vacations can create the perfect itinerary wrapped with interesting Harry Potter experiences.
Harry Potter Location: Hogwarts Express
The Jacobite Steam Train
The Jacobite Steam Train, seen in every Harry Potter movie, is the Hogwarts Express. The Jacobite Steam Train is a steam-powered locomotive that makes the 84-mile round trip voyage from Fort William to Mallaig and back. Along the way the train passes the highest point in Britain (Ben Nevis), the deepest freshwater loch (Loch Morar), the shortest river (River Morar) and the deepest seawater loch (Loch Nevis). The trip is described as the greatest railway journey in the world.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct provided the iconic shots of the bridge to Hogwarts and the Hogwarts Express steaming toward the school. The Viaduct is located at the top of Loch Shiel in the West Highlands of Scotland. It is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland at 416 yards and it is made of mass concrete, not reinforced concrete. Its height as it crosses the River Finnan is 100 feet. There are 21 semicircular spans, which give the Viaduct its classic profile.
Train between Corrour and Rannoch
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry looks out the window of the Hogwarts Express and sees a lonely cabin sitting by itself in the middle of nowhere. That cabin is the guest house at Corrour and it is the highest point on the West Highland Train Line. It is approximately one mile away from the Corrour station headed in the direction of Rannoch. There are no public roads anywhere near the hut; the only access is by train or by foot.
The Death Eaters boarded the Hogwarts Express at the Great Moor of Rannoch. The moor is about 50 square miles west of Loch Rannoch that is a jumble of blanket bog, lochans, rivers and rocky outcrops. It makes for a very challenging environment for humans to explore, but supports a wealth of flora and fauna. The moor has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as well as a Special Area of Conservation.
Harry Potter Location: Hogwarts Lake
Loch Morar is used for both up-close shots of Hogwarts Lake as well as a number of background aerial shots. Loch Morar is located in Lochaber. It is the fifth largest lake by surface area in Scotland, covering just over 10 square miles. It is also the deepest freshwater lake in the British Isles, with a maximum depth of 1017 feet. And much like Loch Ness, Loch Morar even has its own lake monster, Morag.
Loch Shiel, near Glenfinnan, was used for Hogwarts Lake as well. Buckbeak flew over this lake and Harry and Hermoine look across it from the astronomy tower at the end of Half-Blood Prince. The loch is deep, nearly 400 feet, and enclosed by mountains on the northeast side. There are several islands on the loch, the largest of which has a ruined chapel.
Harry Potter Location: Triwizards’ Tournament
Steall Falls is where Harry battled the Hungarian Horntail during the Triwizards’ Tournament. Steall Falls is a waterfall at the base of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. The approach to the waterfall is through Nevis Gorge. The waterfall is the second highest in Scotland, with a single drop of nearly 400 feet. The Gaelic name, An Steall Bàn, means “the white spout.”
Black Rock Gorge
At the beginning of the bout against the Hungarian Horntail, when Harry is hiding from it, he is hiding in the Black Rock Gorge. The gorge is about a mile long, nearly 120 feet deep and narrow. It is located a few miles from Evanton at the edge of the Evanton Wood. According to legend, a local noblewoman, the Lady of Balconie, was lured into the gorge by the devil. Stand at the top of the gorge and you can still hear her cries.
Harry Potter Location: Dumbledore’s Grave
Loch Eilt was used for a couple of different exterior shots. The loch and surrounding environs were used for shots of Hogwarts grounds. Eilean na Moine Island in the loch was used as Dumbledore’s grave; it was filmed, then digitally placed in Loch Arkaig. Loch Eilt is a freshwater loch in Lochaber in the West Highlands.
The exterior shots of the dragon flight from the last film were shot here. Dumbledore’s grave, which is actually an island in Loch Eilt, was digitally added to Loch Arkaig. Oddly enough, the film did not use either of the two islands in Loch Arkaig for Dumbledore’s grave, even though Island Columbkill, or Eilean Loch Airceig, has a ruined chapel that is a former burial ground on it. Loch Arkaig is located west of the Great Glen in the Highlands.
Glen Coe is one of the most famous glens in Scotland and the site of several exterior shots. Perhaps the most iconic are the shots of Hagrid’s Hut, which were filmed in Clachaig Gully. The small village of Glenfinnian was also used for exterior shots. Glen Coe is a glen of volcanic origins in the Scottish Highlands. It gets its name from the River Coe, which runs through it. The glen is part of the designated National Scenic Area of Ben Nevis and Glen Coe.
The northernmost part of Loch Etive was the setting for Ron and Hermione’s camping trip from the first part of Deathly Hallows. Loch Etive is thought to mean “little ugly one” is Scottish Gaelic and the name comes from the witch associated with the loch. Located in Argylle and Bute, the loch is nearly 32 miles long, but barely 1.5 miles wide. The depth can vary greatly, but the deepest parts of the loch are nearly 500 feet.
And for those die-hard fans who want to see where the Harry Potter story began, no trip to Scotland would be complete with a stop at the Elephant House Café in Edinburgh. It was here that JK Rowling sat with a cup of coffee and wrote, longhand, the series that would make her one of the wealthiest writers in history. She’s not the only writer to have visited – Ian Rankin (Inspector Rebus series) and Alexander McCall Smith (Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency series) have also logged many hours in the café. Head to the third floor to see the nook Rowling favored overlooking Greyfriars Cemetery. And then head to the cemetery itself to see the headstones that inspired many characters’ names, including McGonagall and Thomas Riddell.