On the trail of Harry Potter
I found myself caught under the Potter spell in 1999 when aged 34 I for some strange reason read the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Potter fans will know it strange as this is the third book in the series, with the majority of the characters and a large slice of the plot laid out in the first two books.
The fact that it stood up as a stand-alone novel, perhaps speaks volumes for the writing skill of Joanne Rowling. I was certainly entranced and soon diving backwards for Philosopher’s Stone & Chamber of Secrets.
So what has Potter got to do with travel? Quite a lot actually. The worlds collide in London, Scotland, Porto and other interesting places through film locations, sites that inspired Rowling and venues that have jumped on the wizarding bandwagon.
I have bumped into a few over the last few years by default or design and have & will share links to them on this page from time to time. Click on the headline links for the related blog post.
The Elephant House cafe where Harry was developed. Unfortunately it suffered a bad fire in 2021 and as at May 2022 was still closed.
The Hogwarts Express railway line near Mallaig, Scotland. The 21 arch Glenfinnan Viaduct featured in several Potter books and is best viewed from a vantage point above the Glenfinnan visitor centre.
Platform 9¾ is somewhere between platforms 9&10 but is invisible to us muggles who have to content ourselves with the excellent Potter shop and photo opportunity on the main concourse.
King’s Cross Station’s smarter neighbour that doubled as the King’s Cross facade in the films.
A legend is born + Hogwarts inspiration at the Duke’s Palace?
Joanne Rowling started formulating the ideas for the Harry Potter series whilst living in Porto. Livrario Lello is a remarkable bookshop in Porto that JKR is said to have visited, whilst nearby Guimaraes has several mediaeval sites that could have been inspiration for Hogwarts.
The Great Hall, The Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, Guimaraes
Knight Statue or Giant Chess Piece?
The film’s props and studio locations near Watford.
Graphic designs from the film series & The History of Magic
As well as the superb scenery at the studios, outdoor shots of Diagon Alley in the films were located at historic Leadenhall Market in the City of London.
The market started in the 14th Century selling meat, poultry, game and fish and was used to depict the famous wizarding shopping street that features such outlets as the Leaky Cauldron pub, Gringotts Bank, Ollivander’s Wand Shop and Flourish & Blott’s Book Shop.
Several scenes were shot at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, most memorably when Madame Pomfrey taught the pupils how to fly their broomsticks.
Visitors can have their own lesson on the very spot that Harry & Co had theirs, plus there are regular guided tours of the various spots where filming took place.
I finally got to see the play of two halves in April 2022. A fabulous few hours of entertainment that any Potter fan should strive to see. Penned by JK Rowling it follows the misadventures of the Potter, Weasley & Malfoy offspring.