My friend Millie, who I met while being an Elf in Lapland last year, is quite possibly the world’s biggest Harry Potter fan. Whoa that’s a bold claim, I know, but she’s unquestionably the biggest Harry Potter fan that I’ve ever met! Since there are quite a few Harry Potter filming locations in Yorkshire and the North East, Millie’s visit to Scarborough was the perfect opportunity to do some Harry Potter inspired sightseeing in an effort to prove to her that The North is better than The South.
The Harry Potter tour of Yorkshire began before Millie had even arrived in Scarborough, when she changed trains at York railway station. The scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone set in ‘Kings Cross’ railway station, where Hagrid gives Harry his ticket for the Hogwarts Express was actually filmed on the bridge in York railway station. It makes sense when you think about it, as York is all round a much prettier old fashioned looking station than Kings Cross and you can see why it was chosen as the perfect filming location for such an iconic part of Harry’s journey to becoming a wizard. Even considering the older parts of Kings Cross and its appearance before modernisation in 2007, it’s a bigger, more streamlined looking station and a far less quaint location than York. The scene wouldn’t have had the same effect if Harry had been given his e-ticket next to a lift on a glass and steel walkway.
Although strictly not a filming location, as Diagon Alley was built as a set (which you can visit at the Studio Tour), there is a street in York called The Shambles, which could easily pass for Diagon Alley with its little old higgledy piggledy Tudor style buildings. Unfortunately, you can’t buy an owl or a nimbus 2000 in any of the quaint little shops and there and there isn’t even a bookshop (they’re really missing a trick there) but you can buy any flavour of fudge you could ever imagine and even pick up a wand for a reasonable price, although Ollivander won’t be there to help make your choice.
Goathland station serves a small village on the North York Moors Railway line and was the filming location of Hogsmeade station in Harry Potter. The station still looks almost exactly the same as it appears in the films and muggles are able to travel to and from Hogsmeade on a steam train but there’s no guarantee that you’ll see the Hogwarts Express. There’s not much in Goathland apart from the station, some wild sheep, a few shops and a pub. The village doesn’t seem to have much interest in the fact that Harry Potter was filmed there. Just like the shambles, the shopkeepers are really missing a trick. The shops all sell Heartbeat (an old British TV drama) memorabilia but only one of the shops stocked any Harry Potter related things. As Millie said, the village doesn’t look much like Hogsmeade but they could definitely attract more tourism than they’re probably getting from Heartbeat by stocking a few more Harry Potter related products and getting Butterbeer on tap in t’pub. You won’t find a Honeydukes or Zonko’s in Goathland but a trip on the steam train makes for a great day out and you can pretend you’ve travelled to Hogsmeade on the Hogwarts Express!
Other nearby Harry Potter filming locations include:
Alnwick Castle in Northumberland was used for exterior shots of Hogwarts Castle in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Durham Cathedral was used for filming some of the corridor and classroom scenes, as well as exterior courtyard shots in the earlier films.
Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales is one of Harry and Hermione’s camping spots while they are on the run in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
Find out how Millie and I met and read my adventures of being an Elf in Lapland: