We don’t know about you, but we tend to get quite involved with the lives of fictional characters. Like getting teary-eyed when Ron finally kisses Hermione. Or throwing things at the screen when Robert the Bruce betrays Williams Wallace in that field of heather. As such, we get really excited when we get to follow in the footsteps of some of our favourite characters. There’s something quite magical about visiting the real life locations that provided the settings for international film- and TV productions. Here are a few of our favourite silver screen destinations in Great Britain to inspire your next foray to the British Isles:
You’d be hard-pressed to find characters more decidedly British (albeit with a sprinkling of magical ability) than the beleaguered Harry Potter and his merry band of mischief-makers. As such, it only makes sense that large parts of the movies inspired by JK Rowling’s world-famous books would be filmed in jolly old England. Fans of the films can head to London King’s Cross Station where they’ll find Platform Platform 9 ¾ and the Harry Potter Shop, which has been built to resemble Ollivander’s wand shop; or visit the various locations that were used to depict Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at Alnwick Castle, Oxford’s Bodleian Library and Durham Cathedral.
The Da Vinci Code
Adapted from Dan Brown’s 2003 best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code was brought to the screen by Ron Howard and filmed in large part in England and France. Scenes for the movie were shot all over London and iconic London attractions like Westminster Abbey, Fleet Street, Tower Bridge and Big Ben feature quite prominently. Tailor your own walking tour to recreate the backdrop to this gripping thriller!
Aaah, who can forget the endearing ordinary bloke/famous lady love story that saw Hugh Grant playing the floppy-haired bookstore owner to Julia Robert’s American movie star? Relive this heart-warming romance by following in the footsteps of Anna Scott and William Thacker by visiting the famous blue door at 280 Westbourne Park Road, and take a leisurely stroll along Portobello Road and it’s gorgeous market where the epic time-lapse sequence at the heart of the movie was filmed.
The Theory of Everything
Cambridge University is at the centre of the moving film, The Theory of Everything, that tells the story of world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and his early struggles with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It was here that Hawking’s genius, and illness, emerged during his student years and fans can take a walking tour of the university’s historic university buildings, such as St John’s College, to get a feel for his real life mise en scène
Released in 2006 starring Renee Zellweger, Miss Potter is a biographical fiction drama that chronicles the life and times of Beatrix Potter, an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist best known for her children’s books featuring animals, including the charming Tale of Peter Rabbit. Much of the movie was filmed in and around England’s beautiful Lake District, where fans of the writer and the movie can visit destinations like Derwentwater, the location of Potter’s erstwhile holiday home.
The King’s Speech
Westminster Abbey has been depicted in many world-famous feature films, including The King’s Speech, the 2010 film starring Colin Firth that told the story of King George VI’s struggle with a speech impediment. In this particular film, Ely Cathedral stood in the place of the famous Abbey. Travellers can visit this location in the English city of Ely, Cambridgeshire.
Downtown Abbey takes its views to many memorable locations all over England, like charming villages in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Suffolk, Surrey and Berkshire. Some of England’s most beautiful castles also make their appearance. You can look out for Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, Highclere castle in Hampshire and Lincoln Castle on Castle Hill, Lincoln. This award-winning show spans over a decade of delicious drama that unfolds on a sweeping British estate where scandals, ambition, heartbreak and romantic entanglements develop against a backdrop of turbulent historical events. There are a few travel companies that offer Downton Abbey-themed tours in the vicinity, so if you’re in the mood for more than just a self-guided walking tour of the town, you can always sign up for one of those.
JK Rowling lives in Edinburgh, so it makes sense that many of the fictional spaces in the Harry Potter universe would be inspired by actual Scottish destinations. Dyed-in-the-wool Potter fans can head to the Glenfinnan Viaduct (the bridge over which Ron and Harry steer the flying Anglia in Chamber of Secrets); Loch Shiel (one of the two lakes that portray Hogwarts Lake in the films); Eilean na Moine and Loch Eilt (the lake with the island that is Dumbledore’s final fictional resting place), and so much more! Here’s a full list.
Skyfall is one of four Bond films that feature jaw-dropping Scottish scenery. In fact, everyone’s favourite dashing agent actually has some Scottish roots. The story goes that Ian Fleming was so impressed by Sean Connery’s portrayal of his iconic character that he gave Bond a wee bit o’ Scottish heritage – the fictional character’s father was said to be from Glencoe and so it is here where Bond’s family home, Skyfall Lodge, was constructed for the film as well. Fans can head towards Glen Coe, Glen Etive, and the striking peaks of Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag to follow in Bond’s screeching tyres.
Braveheart is the 1996 movie that told the tale of how William Wallace led the Scottish in revolt against the English reign of terror, and managed to bag no less than ten Oscars in the process. It was a powerhouse of a film that put Scotland on the silver screen map and the filmmakers had an absolute field day with the beautiful locations they were given to work with, including the iconic Glencoe, Glen Nevis and Loch Leven. A self-drive tour of these destinations is a great way to explore the Highlands, and hardcore fans can splurge on one of a variety of Braveheart-themed tours throughout the region.
Related: Jump on board our Taste of Scotland tour and explore the region on day 4 of the trip!
Sherlock, the smash hit TV-series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, was filmed at plenty of iconic locations throughout Great Britain, quite a few of which happen to be located in Cardiff, Wales. This includes the National Museum of Cardiff, Cardiff Castle, Kitty Flynn’s pub, Mount Stuart Square, the Senedd, Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant, Three Bears Cave and the Church of St Hilary. Here’s a pretty exhaustive list compiled by two hardcore fangirls.
Doctor Who & Torchwood
The Welch city of Cardiff has been the location of quite a few hard-hitting Hollywood films and international blockbusters. Visitors can traipse in the footsteps of Doctor Who at Roald Dahl Plass, which also happened to be the location of the Torchwood Three headquarters. If you really want to dive head-first into this topsy-turvy fictional, you could even book an immersive Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff.
These are just a few of the most famous silver screen destinations dotted throughout the beautiful reaches of Great Britain – there are plenty more to explore!