Harry Potter and the Edinburgh Spell – Part 2

Welcome back to the Harry Potter and Edinburgh fun for PART TWO!

In case you missed PART ONE, here’s a link to catch you up- CLICK HERE.

Wands at the ready? Read on…

Here’s Your Harry Potter Check List for Edinburgh:

George Heriots School

CAPTION: George Heriot’s School. Image photographed by Court Jeremiah.

1. George Heriot’s School (Address: Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9EQ)–
This stunning school is best viewed just before dusk as the medieval brick-work just ‘pops’ against the colourful sky.


Potter Trail

CAPTION: The Potter Trail isn’t just locations and legends-it’s a performance, featuring performer ‘Becky’. Image photographed by Court Jeremiah.

2. Potter Trail TOUR (Meet at The Greyfriar’s Bobby Statue)–
A free walking tour which takes you to most of the Edinburgh connections with Harry Potter – free, goes for 1-1.5hours – the best reason to go is the Guides are extremely theatrical, it’s a performance that happens to give you the full story of J.K. Rowling and detailed significance of each location, plus key Scottish History – win-win. There’s absolutely no question they haven’t heard before and to add to the fun – you get a wand to play with.
I loved it, shout out to Becky (pictured above) – I see just why Potter Trail is in the Top 20 Best Attractions in Edinburgh on Trip Advisor. HERE’S THE SITE.

 

Greyfriars Kirkyard CJ

CAPTION: Medieval Tones meet Harry Potter where some of the characters’ names were sought. Image photographed by Court Jeremiah.

3. Grey Friars Kirkyard (Address: Greyfriars Place, Edinburgh. EH1 2QQ) –
Here you can walk up and the down graveyard as JK would when she was thinking up characters for the book, who knows maybe it’ll inspire you to write your own amazing stories.

 

Edinburgh Castle

CAPTION: The enchanting Edinburgh Castle ‘on the rock’.

4. Edinburgh Castle (Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG.) –
The Castle itself is a masterpiece and whether you’re on a Harry Potter trek or not, it is a must-see. A Castle on a rock! REPEAT THAT. All the Hogwarts feels.

Elephant House Cafe

CAPTION: Elephant House Café, part of the story that produced Harry Potter but not it’s “birthplace”.

5. Elephant House Café (Address: 21 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN)
Grab a hot chocolate and a spot in the window, best advice is to go quite early – say 7-8am before the crowds, take your seat and watch the city pass you by.
If you’re feeling cheeky – the best little cake shop I’ve ever been to is a couple doors down, nom nom nom.

Nicolson's Cafe

CAPTION: Renamed to Spoon, Nicolson’s Café is set along Nicolson’s Street.

6. Nicolson’s Café- Now renamed ‘Spoon’ (Address: 6a Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DH) –
Have a cuppa’ here! There’s an official plaque there that states it’s use as Rowling’s place to write for the early chapters of HP.  Get away from all that ‘Hype’ of the Elephant House Café and give it a good look. Very close to Edinburgh University while you’re there…

Balmoral Hotel

CAPTION: The Balmoral Hotel, where the last lines of Harry Potter would be completed.

7. Balmoral Hotel – (Address: 1 Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ)
Definitely visit and ‘snap’ away, or have High Tea there! In the chance you do have the kind of coin it would require, you can actually stay in the room (Room 552) where the final book was completed and find the sneaky spot where J.K inscribed her name.

Victoria Street

CAPTION: Victoria Terrace is the most obvious connection to inspiring Diagon Alley. Image Photographed by Court Jeremiah.

8. Victoria Street ( Address: Victoria St., Edinburgh EH1 2HE) – There’s supposedly a few places of inspiration but to me this screams ‘Diagon Alley’. This is renowned by tours and locals as the OBVIOUS replica and favourite. Sadly though, the shops in Victoria Street hear about H.P. ALL THE TIME and are not experts – so please avoid bombarding them with questions, plus; most are just not quite as excited as we are!

Cockburn Street

CAPTION: Cockburn Street, Edinburgh. Also linked to Diagon Alley.

9. Cockburn Street (Address: Cockburn St, Edinburgh.) Another supposed inspiration for Diagon Alley and definitely worth a look. Do you own comparisons with Victoria Street… They’re close in location also.

JK Edinburgh Home

CAPTION: J.K. Rowling’s Edinburgh Home.

10. J.K.Rowling’s Edinburgh Home (Address: 1 Abbotsford Park, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH10 5DX) – Now, I’m really not encouraging any major-stalking… but a little peak never hurt did it? This building is just beautiful and every bit as enchanting as the owner herself.

JK Handprints

CAPTION: J.K. Rowling’s handprints are showcased in Edinburgh.

11. J.K Rowling’s Handprints (Address: 253 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1YJ)-
Very cool to see, the hands that changed history have forever been immortalised in the Edinburgh City Chambers. For good measure, give them a look – J.K. placed her hands down for setting in Caithness Stone after winning the Edinburgh Award in 2008. THE CHAMBERS WEBSITE.

Edinburgh City

CAPTION: Edinburgh city, is like no other. Curtesy of Wikipedia.

12. Walk around Edinburgh City (especially Old Town)– just like J.K. Rowling would in her day to day and I’m sure for further inspiration of imagery, characters and the world of Harry Potter.

If you’re still not done AND WAY TOO EXCITED…
Why not Continue the ‘Harry Potter’ Journey in Scotland:
Most of the significant Harry Potter scenes were filmed in the Harsh Highlands of Scotland – Fort William, Glencoe, Glenfinnan Viaduct, Loch Leven and more.

Glenfinnan Train

CAPTION: Hogwarts Express over Glenfinnan Viaduct thanks to Instagrammer/Photographer Grant Sloane – @rolling_sloane

Here’s a few connections for you specifically:
1. You know the flying-car scenes in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets when Ron’s driving above the train? Well that’s filmed in a place up North called Glenfinnan Viaduct where the Jacobite Train steams on through twice daily. Plus if you grab a spot up high- it’s a great view, and you too can grab that ‘Insta-worthy image’ of it’s journey passed you.
Oh and FYI, it’s totally possible to ride the Jacobite Steam Train/Hogwarts Express, CLICK HERE.
2. Filming of Hagrid’s Hut took place in Glencoe, although the Hut itself has been dismantled since the final movie it’s still a great area to check out for HP-feels. – INFORMATION HERE.
3. The Valley of Ben Nevis – The tallest Mountain in the British Isles, the valley below was used for the filming of  Quidditch Matches in the movies.

MY TWO HOT TIPS:
Avoid Edinburgh in August especially, as a resident of Edinburgh I know first-hand how insane August is- the sun is often shining, and the amazing and equally chaotic ‘International Fringe Festival’ is on for the month. Delays are intense across the city. So unless you HAVE to go then- don’t. You’ll be able to get uncluttered photos and actually check things out without the rush or the queues.
-Before touching the plane down in Edinburgh – I suggest you have a HP’ Movie Marathon just to amp-up your excitement levels.

NEED A PLACE TO STAY DURING THE HARRY POTTER FUN? In Edinburgh, you could say ‘spoilt for choice’, we have 3 hostels here all within Old Town borders and in the heart of all Harry Potter places listed in Edinburgh above – Royal Mile Backpackers, Castle Rock Hostel and High Street Hostel – CLICK HERE.

The success of Harry Potter stems on the readers’ ability to connect and relate to the characters – even if they’re technically the real witches and wizards…
The best thing we can take from J.K. Rowling is that it’s never too late to be who we are born to be – at any age, in any circumstance, in any place.
But for now, it’s time to experience the mystery and the magic Edinburgh had on J.K Rowling and the profound influence it had on the Harry Potter world.

Written by Court Jeremiah.
STH Blog Writer/Photographer.
www.courtjeremiah.com
@courtredhanded_
Please Note: All opinions stated in this Blog are entirely those of the Author.
Images photographed by Court Jeremiah are not to be taken or used without permission.

Harry Potter and the Edinburgh Spell – Part 1

Edinburgh

Where the magic begins…

Calling all HARDCORE Harry Potter fans! There’s a Harry Potter ‘Prequel’ you may have not know about yet… so I am inviting you to join me in turning our ‘Time-turners’ back and to whisk ourselves to the Old Town cobble streets of Scotland’s Capital: Edinburgh.
The year is 1994, because that’s where this story really takes-off.

J.K. Rowling (born 1965) had experienced a fateful moment on a journey from Manchester to London, just 4 years earlier. She thought of Harry Potter whilst gazing into the country-side as it passed her by and when experiencing a ‘traditional’ UK 4 hour train delay.
A little boy who didn’t know he was a wizard had cast a spell on her mind.

This was a year that altered her life enormously – not just by dreaming up Harry Potter, her mother also passed away at the end of 1990, and Rowling was extremely close with her, saying that the death brought “guilt and worry and anxiety” into her life.

In the years that followed: she married a Portuguese man, moved to Portugal and would have a daughter – but all of it was not as successful as first envisioned.
From it suicidal thoughts weaved their way into her every day, and she had hit rock-bottom.

Returning to 1994 she decided to make the return to the UK, and to Edinburgh to be with her baby sister Dianne.

J.K. returned as a shattered, divorced version of herself, & a single mother. She was as poor as poor could be without being homeless.
But no matter what her financial position was – she never lost her ideas for Harry Potter.
They started to flood her mind again.

Giving herself just one year to complete it– she would spend a great deal of time in Edinburgh’s coffee shops – ‘Nicolson’s Café’ and ‘Elephant House Café’ mostly. In fact, she’s quoted as saying that coffee shops were great because the cost of coffee was cheaper than heating her home. For hours her tiny daughter would lay beside her sleeping whilst Rowling wrote.

You see “this is a city people quite literally fall in love with”, no exception for Rowling – the old world feel, the gothic architecture, hidden pockets of mystery are scattered through the city and an even bustling pace of other creatives is evident. When it came to building the books – characters, locations and imagery were all vastly inspired by Edinburgh.

J.K. Rowling’s days were either spent wandering the city or in coffee shops.
When she wandered, she passed places like George Heriot’s School – the most expensive in the area but the only one offering Single-Parent Scholarships – it also comprises of 4 towers and 4 houses… are we taking note? Combine that with the likes of Edinburgh Castle which can be seen from George Heriot’s – and ideas for Hogwarts developed, Edinburgh Castle was intriguing to her being mounted on a large ‘rock’.
She’d also wander through the Greyfriar’s Graveyard gazing at headstones for ideas of ‘Old-world’ first names and last names for characters – the most obvious links being Tom Riddle and Professor MacGonagall.
On her wanders, were the streets of Victoria Street and Cockburn Street – laced with cobble, unique bends in the road, little shops stacked against each other – the resemblance to Diagon Alley is also uncanny.

HP BOOKS.

CAPTION: The Harry Potter book collection.

The first book was completed in 1995, she did it – stuck to her one year goal too.
And the rest as they say- is history…

This ‘edition’ of Harry Potter is ‘Fairytale meets tragedy’ – the wonderful writing of HP really commenced in Edinburgh and ended in Edinburgh- the last link to the last story’s creation being the Balmoral Hotel where she completed the book. Edinburgh is where a story was brought to life – fed, nourished, loved and where it would grow from a simple idea.

JK Rowling holding book

CAPTION: Rowling holding her final Harry Potter book.

It’s a funny thing how being an Author is a considerable risk to most people, and that definitely didn’t stop with J.K.Rowling – she suffered, what seemed like endless criticism for her dreams of writing books, even way before ‘Bloomsbury’ picked it up, it was dismissed as not good enough for publication by two dozen other Publishers…
and I bet they all feel like ‘Royal Idiots’ now… just a thought.

J.K Rowling now lives in her own ‘small castle’ in Edinburgh with her family.

~

HERE’S SOME FUN FACTS –
-JK Rowling used a very old Type Writer which is near-on-extinct in today’s society. See no fancy iPad required! And today is worth a collective $545 million dollars for her Harry Potter legacy – which technically makes her richer than the Queen!
– J.K. Rowling hails from England, but is notably 1/4 Scottish and her parents’ love blossomed on a train ride to Scotland.
– Edinburgh was the first UNESCO City of Literature. How appropriate?!
– As a child she began to dream of being an author and creating stories for those small too.
-HP was filmed in Warner Brother’s Studios in England, but most location filming was done in Scotland.
-The Harry Potter books (all 7) were published in 10 years exactly 1997 to 2007 and the 8 Blockbuster movies between 2001 and 2011.
-The HP Books have been translated 79 times and today 450 million copies have been sold word-wide. Impressive stuff.

Look out for part two where we talk about the awesome places to see and do all things Harry Potter!

 

Written by Court Jeremiah.
STH Blog Writer/Photographer.
www.courtjeremiah.com
@courtredhanded_
Please Note: All opinions stated in this Blog are entirely those of the Author.
Images photographed by Court Jeremiah are not to be taken or used without permission.

Isle of Skye’s Prehistoric Gem

Imagine for a moment you could go back in time… as far back as even 170 odd million years to when the mighty dinosaurs still ruled this earth.
The dinosaurs were powerful, they were fearless and without a doubt- the champions of a world we will never fully understand.
They’ve gone now but have since left their marks in the forms of bones and GIGANTIC footprints.

It might not be Thursday but let’s have some Throwbacks to the days of watching Jurassic Park at home on the television, watching in amazement as the prehistoric beasts came to life in front of us and the characters fighting for their lives against them. Maybe you were once a tiny human who walked around ‘roaring’ at the top of your lungs to anyone near, in hopes you’d terrify them. Those were the days!
Dinosaurs are still awesome, and guess what? The dinosaur fun doesn’t have to end in your childhood.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

Back in 2015 a small group of researchers from Edinburgh University were led by a palaeontologist named Steve Brusatte to find dinosaur remains in Duntulm in the Highlands of Scotland. Even though their chances of finding dinosaur bones were small (almost as small as the country itself) they did happen to find something else, which was, in my opinion – pretty damn cool: very well preserved fossilized footprints. The footprints preserved by sedimentary layers in rocks and belonged to Sauropods (a breed of dinosaur which weighed more than 10 tonnes!). The researchers were very excited, and for good reason! Not long after the discovery, these prints were concluded as some of the very best dinosaur tracks found in the world! National Geographic called it “the largest dinosaur site ever found in Scotland”. In the Isle of Skye footprints have been found in areas such as Staffin Beach & Duntulm. The prehistoric footprint collection has seen travellers & locals nickname the area– ‘Dinosaur Isle’ or ‘Jurassic Island’.

I hope you’re making a trip up to the Isle of Skye! The beaches on their own are uniquely beautiful – some parts sandy, some salty and some have plenty of green mossy rocks. Make stops along the way to gaze into the rock pools. All that beauty aside… you must remember – you’ll literally be going on a dinosaur hunt, which means you also get to refer to yourself as Dinosaur Hunter (hashtags and all) . I promise you’ll smile to yourself cause’ you’ll actually be walking in the footprints of dinosaurs and embracing your own Jurassic story.
Many visitors to the say that the experience will have you questioning your part in the evolutionary experience. Just imagine comparing your feet or your hands to these larger than life prints.


The footprints are there, but it must be said #dinosaurhunter, that they can be as tricky to find them as the dinosaurs themselves- many travellers have visited and left the area having not found them. Instagram tags barely make up 300 images; partly for this reason.
Challenge accepted- I hear you say, that’s what I want to hear!

Now.. here are my Top-Tips to get the most out of your search..

Isle of Skye, Staffin Beach, Dinosaur Footprint.

  1. Stream the very first ‘Jurassic Park’ movie ever made – circa 1993. And watch it the night before! Get those adventure feels flowing, and hey if you’re keen – do 2,3 & Jurassic World too!
  2. Get up early to check them out! Low tide is the best time.
    Investigate the low tide times of the site you’re visiting prior. The central township of Portree has a tourist information centre which identify these times and/or looking it up online. Depending on which location you are going to visit & what time of the year- start times could be 4am or later.
  3. Wear some non-slip Gumboots/Galoshes/Wellies, no time for wet feet when we are Dinosaur Hunters.
  4. Check out the quirky Staffin Dinosaur Museum where the team there have a wealth of knowledge and offer priceless guidance to finding the coveted footprints.
  5. Get an epic shot of yourself in your best dinosaur pose next to a footprint!
    The seemingly common ‘Millenial’ question these days is: “if it isn’t on social media did it actually happen?” – might as well make it a great one!
  6. Someone once told me “every misadventure leads to a great story” – maybe you don’t find them straight away, maybe you lose a gumboot or fall in the water? – but those things MAKE A STORY when you tell the grandkids about that epic time you followed some clues and went dinosaur hunting.

Have fun ticking this prehistoric little beauty’ off your bucket-list.

And if you’re chasing a place to stay while you get you’re ‘dinosaur hunting’ on… look no further than Scotland’s Top Hostels local Skye Backpackers – Only a short drive to the dinosaur sites. CLICK HERE.

Written by – Court Jeremiah.
@Courtredhanded_
STH Blogger.