Step this way for the Hogwarts Express

As Harry Potter hits the big screen for the third time, Paul Rodgers reveals the schoolboy wizard's haunts

Pack your wand, your wizarding robes and your Care of Magical Creatures text. Anyone who hasn't had enough of J K Rowling's Harry Potter after five books and three films - the latest, The Prisoner of Azkaban, opens this Friday - can visit the most famous places in the magical world.

Take the Hogwarts Express

The Hogwarts year begins at King's Cross station in London. Scenes from the films were shot on platforms 4 and 5, and the sign marking Platform 9 3/4 has been moved to the west wall of the station. The red-and-black Hogwarts Express can be boarded only by students of the school of witchcraft and wizardry, but muggle steam trains can be caught across the country. Visit www.uksteam.info for schedules. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, for example, runs steam trains between Grossmont and Pickering, with a stop at Hogsmeade (Goathland). Adult tickets cost £12 return, children £6.

Dedicated fans will want to take the West Coast Railway Company's Jacobite Express from Fort William, Scotland. The route crosses the 21-arch Glenfinnan viaduct seen from the air in The Chamber of Secrets. Glenfinnan is also where the soul-sucking dementors stop the train in the latest film. The 84-mile, day-return trip to Mallaig costs £25 for adults and £14.50 for children and departs at 10.20am, Monday to Friday, 7 June-8 October.

Purists should head for the National Railway Museum in York, where 5972 Olton Hall, the locomotive that pulls the Hogwarts Express, is appearing until 7 June in a celebration of 200 years of rail. Olton Hall can be chartered at around £12,000 a day. The museum, though, is free, and opens daily from 10am to 6pm, except 24-26 December.

Wander in the castle grounds

Making its debut in The Prisoner of Azkaban is Virginia Water, Surrey, as the lake and grounds outside Hogwarts, including the paddock where Hagrid's pupils meet Buckbeak the hippogryph. This man-made lake is seven miles around and features the Temple of the Gods, a Roman ruin imported from Tripoli, a waterfall over stones from the ruins of a Saxon settlement, The Robber's Cave and a 100ft totem pole to commemorate the Duke of Cumberland's victory at Culloden.

Perhaps the closest muggle game to quidditch is polo, with riders on horses instead of brooms. Some of the best chukka-watching is near Virginia Water at Smiths Lawn, the home of the Guards Polo Club (01784 434 212; www.guardspoloclub.com). Tickets to the Hildon Queen's Cup Final on 13 June cost from £15.

Search for Hagrid's hut

Hagrid's Hut, the sundial garden and a set nicknamed "the bridge to nowhere" - reportedly part of the route from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts - had to be demolished after filming for The Prisoner of Azkaban in Glencoe last summer. But you can still see the dramatic views of Torren Lochan and Signal Rock forest which drew director Alfonso Cuaron. Visitors can enjoy walking, cycling, sailing, horse-riding and fishing in the glen while staying in the Clachaig Inn (01855 811 252; www.clachaig.com), directly across the road from the film location, where b&b costs from £30 per person.

Explore the castle

Alnwick Castle in Northumberland was the scene of Nevile's uncontrolled flight in The Philosopher's Stone and the flying car's crash-landing into the Whomping Willow in the second film. Young wizards and witches will get hours of entertainment racing down embankments on broomsticks (£2.50 at the gift shop). Tours of the castle cost £7.50 for adults or £10 for a joint ticket covering the gardens, with children under 16 entering free. The castle is open from April to October from 11am (last admission 4.15pm), and the gardens are open from 10am every day except Christmas. GNER (08457 225 333; www.gner.co.uk) runs trains to Alnmouth from stops along the east coast main line and an Arriva (08701 201 088; www.arriva.co.uk/northeast) bus will take you close to the castle entrance.

Go south across the Tyne to Durham where the cathedral's cloisters were used in The Philosopher's Stone for the musical interlude with Hedwig. The cathedral plays down its connection to Harry Potter, but visitors will not be disappointed. Among other wonders, it contains the treasure of St Cuthbert, the seventh-century bishop of Lindisfarne. The cathedral is open until 8pm during the summer and entrance is free, although a donation is requested. The treasury, the monk's dormitory and the tower have varying hours and charges.

Sneak into the library

The great hall at Christchurch was too small for Hogwarts, but it inspired the dining room used in the films. Numerous other shots were taken at the college. Visitors are allowed in at any time but some areas are off limits during term time. Entrance costs £4 for adults and £3 for students. Unless you have an invisibility cloak or a reader's card, the only way into the Bodleian library is with one of the four daily tours. For £4, you get to sneak into Duke Humphrey's library, the restricted section in The Philosopher's Stone, and the Divinity School, better known to fans as Madam Pomfrey's infirmary. Unfortunately, no one under eight is allowed.

Visit the Leaky Cauldron

The purple triple-decker Knight Bus was last seen on the streets of South London around Borough Market. Stoney Street, where Harry is dropped off at the Leaky Cauldron, is a hive of activity between 2am and 9am, when the wholesale food market closes. Visitors may want to try the gourmet retail market on weekends, which features more than 70 stalls.

The other famous London location is Gringott's Bank, known to muggles as Australia House, in the Strand. Unfortunately, the goblins only allow two ways in to the Exhibition Hall, either by invitation to an event or on London Open Day, which this year falls on 18 and 19 September.

Paul Rodgers travelled to Alnwick and Durham courtesy of GNER (see above) and stayed at Farnley Tower, Durham, b&b from £70 per double (0191-375 0011; enquiries@farnley-tower.co.uk).

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk